School of Biological Sciences – Outstanding Senior 2020

Thomas LeClair.

Thomas LeClair

Mount Vernon, Washington


  • Bachelor of Science in Biology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music

Clubs, Organizations, Leadership, and Service

  • Honors Student Advisory Council – Historian
  • Honors College Mentor
  • Allegro: Student Association for Music Advocacy – President, Treasurer, Historian
  • WSU Organ Club – Co-founder and President
  • WSU Madrigal Chamber Singers and Concert Choir
  • WSU Global Scholars Hall Government – Vice President, Community Relations Chair
  • Concordia Lutheran Church – Pianist
  • Plays the Bryan Hall Clock Tower Carillion
  • WSU’s Struppler Theater Organ was rediscovered by Thomas behind a wall in a large classroom in Webster Hall. He initiated research and trouble-shooting of the power issues, eventually updating it with a modern electrical system.
  • WSU Historical Building Preservation Committee – Undergraduate Representative

Internships and Employment

  • WSU Department of Housing & Residence Life – residential technology assistant
  • College of Arts & Sciences Student Ambassadors – President, Vice President, Public Relations Coordinator
  • Month-long job shadow at a mixed-practice veterinary clinic in the Netherlands
  • WSU Access Center – lab assistant
  • Cougar Marching Band – digital media intern

Undergraduate Research

  • Working in Dr. Wesley Dowd’s Marine Ecophysiology Laboratory, studied how mussels tolerate heat stressors; built lab computers; and helped maintain breeding lines or copepods for study on how multiple stressors affect physiological responses.
  • Honor’s Thesis: Toward an Understanding of Friesland’s Village Organs. Included five weeks of archival and field research in the Netherlands, along with statistical analysis of collected data.

Education Abroad

  • Southeast University International Honors Program, Nanjing, China: two-week cultural exchange through the WSU Honors College to learn about Chinese history, culture, economics, and language.

Awards and Recognition

  • Fulbright Scholarship Recipient
  • 2020 College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Senior in Biology
  • Top 10 Senior – Visual and Performing Arts
  • Pass with Distinction – WSU Honors Thesis
  • WSU Honors College S. Town Stephenson Award
  • President’s LEAD Award
  • WSU Foundation “Why WSU?” video contest – 1st prize
  • Washington State Opportunity Scholar
  • WSU Regents Scholar
  • WSU Research Scholar
  • Multiple academic and music scholarships

Faculty Comments

“I have known Thomas for roughly 2.5 years and I have gained a strong appreciation for his character, creativity and problem-solving skills, and work ethic. Thomas is an excellent student; he is curious and engaged far beyond the minimum expectations; and he exhibits a substantial degree of maturity. Thomas also lost a very close family member in the last academic year, a tragic and unexpected event that he handled with a poise far beyond his years. He juggles his incredible variety of activities with an extraordinary calm.

“In my opinion, Thomas possesses all the requisite skills and background for success in whatever field he chooses to pursue, and he represents many attributes that reflect very positively on WSU as an institution. In summary, Thomas is a remarkable human being.”  –Dr. W. Wesley Dowd

Personal Statement

My time at WSU has been full of amazing opportunities made possible by incredible people. I am grateful for the relationships I have formed with faculty, staff, and friends; their support and encouragement shaped my WSU career and opened up possibilities I could only dream of when I first arrived as a freshman. The people who took a chance on me and welcomed me in—whether to a lab, a choir, a job opportunity, or a myriad of other experiences—allowed me to have a rich and meaningful four years here, and I am thankful for the impact they have had on my life.

Honored Faculty and Mentors

  • Arlene Parkay, CAS assistant director of Recruitment & Retention
  • Wesley Dowd, associate professor, School of Biological Sciences
  • Richelle Tanner, postdoctoral researcher, School of Biological Sciences
  • Jill Schneider, instructor, School of Music
  • Lori Wiest, professor, School of Music
  • Audrey Van Nuland, advisor, School of Biological Sciences
  • Denise Snider, advisor, School of Music
  • April Seehafer, director, Distinguished Scholarships Program

Future Plans

Thomas will study during the next year at Bangor University in Bangor, Wales, through his Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a master of science degree in marine biology. He plans to return to Pullman to earn a doctoral degree through the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, where he has already been accepted. Thomas ultimately hopes for a mixed-practice career in a rural area, working with hobby farms, companion animals, and wildlife rehabilitation, while spending what free time he has continuing to make music with choirs and as an organist.