Annual graduate student awards were presented by the WSU Association for Faculty Women (AFW) recently. Honorees are:
Founders award

First place: Gitanjali Shrestha, human development, graduated magna cum laude and with honors in sociology from Southern Arkansas University. Her translational research at WSU in Laura Hill’s laboratory focuses on substance abuse prevention, specifically on the real-world dissemination of the “Strengthening Families Program” for parents and youth. She has developed a technical assistance package and piloted its use in King County. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. degree in developmental science and prevention.

Second place: Changqing Zhou, entomology, received her B.A. in plant protection from Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Technology in Guangzhou, about a two-hour drive north of Hong Kong. She joined the laboratory of Laura Lavine to identify variations in populations of the western tarnished plant bug using DNA barcoding techniques. One of her supporters writes, “Zhou easily ranks in the top 10 percent of students that I have seen in my 30 years at WSU in terms of dedication and work ethic. She is also outstanding academically.”

Third place: Sara V. Simmons, applied microeconomics, graduated magna cum laude from Central Washington University in economics with mathematics and philosophy minors. She joined Ken Casavant’s research group to examine the impact on the environment, economy, energy consumption and shippers caused by the extended lock closure on the Snake River. She has written two interim reports, given two conference presentations and created a versatile and useable model for further technical evaluation of these impacts. Casavant writes, “Sara is the most creative, organized and hardest working masters student I have had in my 42 years here at WSU.”
Harriett B. Rigas Award:

First Place: Jennifer L. Schei, phyiscs and astronomy, received her B.A. in physics from the College of St. Benedict at St. John’s University in Minnesota. Her interdisciplinary research is co-mentored by Matthew McCloskey in physics and David Rector in neuroscience. Her research combines optics and neuroscience to develop brain imaging technologies with high spatial and temporal resolution. By analyzing the scattering of light through neural tissue, her studies are opening the door to new noninvasive techniques that will lead to unprecedented understanding of the basic mechanisms of sleep. She has published eight high-profile papers and is first author on two book chapters. McCluskey goes so far as to predict that “she will be one of our most famous alumnae.”

Second place: Connie M. Remsberg, pharmaceutical sciences, graduated summa cum laude in biology with a minor in chemistry in 2006 from the University of Idaho. She entered a combined Pharm.D./Ph.D. program at WSU and received her Pharm.D. in 2010, also graduating summa cum laude. Her research focuses on the preclinical effects of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of polyphenolic compounds in the laboratory of Neal Davies. Her studies have resulted in 25 peer-reviewed articles and 40 abstracts. She recently accepted a prestigious post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco with Les Benet, one of the most cited pharmaceutical scientists in the world.

Third place: Sandra D. Taylor, veterinary microbiology and pathology, received her B.S. in veterinary science and, two years later, her DVM degree from WSU. She began pursuing a career in academics with an internal medicine residency at the University of California. Shortly thereafter, she received diplomate status in internal medicine. Her Ph.D. research focuses on applying her clinical expertise to the performance of translation research, utilizing large animal models to fill gaps in human infectious disease. Under the mentorship of Robert Mealey, she has determined that neutralizing antibodies could control lentivirus infection in horses, a disease similar to human HIV infection. Before graduation in December, she received two offers for tenure-track positions at veterinary medical schools. She accepted the position at Purdue, where she is teaching and running her own laboratory.