By Madison Rosenbaum, Tri-Cities marketing & communications intern

Kathleen-McAteer-80RICHLAND, Wash. – Seven undergraduate students have been awarded research grants as part of the inaugural Chancellor’s Summer Scholar Program at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

The intention is for students to perform research across all disciplines, regardless of preferred or declared major, said Kathleen McAteer, undergraduate education coordinator in the Office of Academic Affairs and clinical assistant professor of biology. Students will work collaboratively with assigned faculty mentors, cultivating problem-solving and communication skills.

Initially, three students were to be selected and awarded $3,000 each. But because of student interest and the merit of their project ideas, seven applicants were chosen to receive funding.

The 2014 summer scholars are:

• Matt Engel, mentored by James R. “Dick” Pratt, received $3,000 for replanting sagebrush and researching a management plan for maintaining biodiversity in response to increasing fire frequency.

• Elinor Lake, mentored by Sena Clara Creston, received $3,000 for an interdisciplinary study of professional women in education using artistic, literary and historical methods in the fields of digital technology and culture and fine arts.

• Megan Smith, mentored by Judy Morrison and Jonah Firestone, received $3,000 to examine “What Makes a STEM School?” She will look at how the Pasco School District is preparing teachers and developing curricula focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Four students were each awarded $500:

• Geoff Schramm, mentored by Pratt, is working on wildlife refuge water quality research.

• Joshua Shely, mentored by Vince Herbert, is exploring plant-virus-herbivore interactions in legume crops.

• Joseph Traverso, mentored by Nikolaos Voulgarakis, is researching increasing the efficiency of numerical simulations in mathematics.

• Leslie Walker, mentored by Naidu Rayapati, is tracking an emerging soil-borne virus disease in Washington vineyards.

Learn more about WSU Tri-Cities and its commitment to dynamic student engagement, dynamic research experiences and dynamic community engagement at


Kathleen McAteer, WSU Tri-Cities Office of Academic Affairs, 509-372-7371,
Madison Rosenbaum, WSU Tri-Cities Marketing and Communications student intern,
Melissa O’Neil Perdue, WSU Tri-Cities Marketing and Communications manager, 509-372-7319, cell/text 509-727-3094,