The Washington State University Association for Faculty Women (AFW) has awarded five graduate students for the highest level of scholarly achievement, service, leadership, and professional potential. The AFW congratulates these outstanding students.


The Harriett B. Rigas Award


The Harriett B. Rigas Award honors Harriett B. Rigas, professor of electrical engineering at WSU, and an early president of the AFW. One outstanding doctoral student was selected.

  • Xinyue (Sheena) Dong

    Pharmaceutical sciences doctoral student
    College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at WSU Spokane

    Xinyue (Sheena) Dong

    Dong researches the design and engineering of novel nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems for improved therapy of ischemic stroke and glioma. An accomplished researcher and effective communicator, she has 13 peer-reviewed papers, six as first-author or co-first author, and received awards for the 2019 WSU Three-Minute Thesis Competition (first place), and first and second place for the 2018 and 2019 Research Day Poster Presentation Competition. In 2020 she will pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.


AFW Founders’ Awards


The AFW recognizes two outstanding master’s students this year with the AFW Founders’ Awards.

  • Ashley (Q) Quast

    Master’s student in Fine Arts
    College of Arts and Sciences

    Ashley (Q) Quast

    Quast explores conceptual themes of absurdity, humor, and futility through performance art. In 2019 she curated the week-long Palouse Performance Showcase, and in 2020 created Midwinter Parade in Pullman. Her work has manifested as puppets, pop-up parades in public spaces, and as a traveling performance series to people’s homes. She has presented nationally and internationally and is the first Fine Arts Graduate Fellow in the NextGen and Publicly Engaged Fellow Program at WSU.

  • Julian Ankney

    Master’s student in English
    College of Arts and Sciences

    Julian Ankney

    Ankney is a Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) scholar and social justice activist. Ankney studies Indigenous feminism using the oral traditions of Nimiipuu and also explores digital literary tools to tell Indigenous stories. Recently, she presented a paper at the Modern Language Association Conference in Seattle entitled Decolonizing Digital Space Through Telling Stories, highlighting digital tools that could help revitalize Native languages. Her work has significance for Indigenous language reclamation and for social justice awareness of gender inequality, decolonization, sovereignty, and human rights for Indigenous Peoples.


The Karen P. DePauw Leadership Award


The Karen P. DePauw Leadership Award honors Karen DePauw, who served as Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education at WSU from 1989 to 1997. The award, established with the Graduate School, recognizes an outstanding doctoral student with demonstrated leadership components in their research, teaching, or service.

  • Lindsay Lightner

    Doctoral student in Mathematics and Science Education
    College of Education

    Lindsay Lightner

    Lightner promotes equitable access and diversity in the education system. In an effort to fill critical teacher shortages in low-income and minority-represented communities, Lightner examines alternative pathways for paraeducators to obtain teacher certification. With another research team, she explores ways to better support English language learners and refugee students and families in science learning pedagogy. Her advocacy for equity and diversity extends to volunteer work with community youth and to WSU service activities on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women since 2009, Women of Distinction Awards Committee, and WSU Tri‑Cities Diversity and Inclusion Council, naming only a few from her long list of activities.

  • Shandeigh Berry

    Doctoral student of Nursing
    College of Nursing

    Shandeigh Berry

    Berry researches the psychological, emotional, and spiritual experiences associated with perinatal loss and grief. With respect and compassion, Berry conducts and coordinates interviews for a multi-site study using technologies such as the telehealth system’s cloud-based storage, smart home sensors, and in-home assessments. Recognizing a need for perinatal bereavement support services, Berry is leading a charge to build a network of perinatal palliative care program resources and to persuade hospice and palliative care organizations to offer parents perinatal grief counseling services.

For more details see the AFW website.