Colin Mannex

Washington State University has selected Colin Mannex as its new associate director of the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR).

“Colin brings a wealth of experience in education to the program and is excited to help our university and students advance high-impact learning activities associated with student research, scholarship, and creative activities,” said Mary Sánchez Lanier, assistant vice provost.

“I’m looking forward to building relationships with my colleagues university-wide as we find new, exciting, and unexpected points of connection in the work that we do to enhance student experience and success at WSU,” said Mannex.

The OUR is part of the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

Mannex third to lead OUR

Mannex earned a B.A. in English and drama from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and an MFA in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from the Yale University School of Drama in New Haven, CT. He was a visiting assistant professor in histories of performance at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA, and a resident teaching fellow at Yale in English and theater classes. He worked as a dramaturg at Yale Repertory Theatre and was managing editor of Yales’ Theatre Magazine. Most recently he chaired the English department at Bentley Upper School in Lafayette, CA, where he also taught English, served as class dean, and was varsity head coach for the cross country and track and field team.

The first OUR director at WSU in 2006 was Dave Bahr, mechanical and materials engineering professor. He was succeeded in 2011 by Shelley Pressley, civil and environmental engineering associate research professor and associate dean for student success in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.

OUR overview

Undergraduate research—which also includes scholarly pursuits and creative activities with a faculty mentor—has long been promoted at WSU as beneficial to students in all majors. It, along with other high-impact learning practices, helps undergraduates engage more deeply in their education. “Research” might include seeking resolutions to contested questions, making empirical observations, using cutting-edge technologies, and experiencing the excitement that comes from working to answer important questions, said experts in education.

WSU established the Office of Undergraduate Research as the university’s central resource for information and programs on the topic. Since, the OUR has embraced a broad set of responsibilities, such as hosting the annual, university-wide Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA); helping support summer research programs in STEM fields; offering top student researchers roles as peer mentors to others who are exploring how to get started and find a mentor; delivering workshops; offering the UNIV 199 research skills course; and providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships so student researchers can concentrate on their investigations rather than have to work at other jobs.

According to the National Survey for Student Engagement in 2019, 25 percent of WSU seniors reported they had worked with a faculty member on a research project.

Mannex comes at an exciting time

Mannex joins the OUR at a particularly exciting time. Students, with their mentors, are currently invited to submit abstracts for SURCA 2021 on March 29, and faculty, postdocs, and other professionals are being asked to sign up as judges for SURCA. In addition, the OUR application for undergraduate research awards is currently open and several new awards have been added.