Of 130+ applicants, 25 undergraduates receive awards to pursue research

PULLMAN, Wash. – Twenty-five students from a record pool of applicants for Washington State University awards in undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activities will each receive $1,000 to support their work.

“We are pleased in particular that so many freshman and sophomore students will be able to launch their first projects with the help of this funding,” said Shelley Pressley, director of undergraduate research, a program in the Office of Undergraduate Education. “We had the largest applicant pool ever this year, with more than 130 students competing for awards.”

She thanked the faculty and staff reviewers who read applications and reference letters.

More awards to come

The awards come from three funds: Auvil Scholars Fellowships are going to 22 students (two will share one award); the James A. Weir Undergraduate Research Fellowship to one student; and the Norma C. Fuentes and Gary M. Kirk Undergraduate Research Award to two students.

Pressley said an announcement will be made soon about recipients of two other research awards: the DeVlieg Foundation Grant for engineering students and Weyerhaeuser support for research in biofuels.

While Auvil applications and awards are typically made in fall, the next round of applications will be this spring for awards effective in fall, Pressley said. They will be the 2014-15 awards.

For more information on these and other awards and programs, visit http://UndergraduateResearch.wsu.edu.

Many freshmen, sophomore winners

Of the 25 recent recipients, three are freshmen, eight sophomores, seven juniors and seven seniors. Twelve are members of the WSU Honors College.

Compared to applications, the College of Education has the highest percentage of awardees (33 percent). The College of Engineering and Architecture has the most recipients (nine), followed by the College of Arts and Sciences (eight).

Awardees listed

The 2013-14 undergraduate research award recipients, faculty mentors and projects:

Fuentes-Kirk Award:

Patrick Gavin, senior in electrical engineering and Honors College mentored by Jacob Leachman; electrical development of the first university aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen and a fuel cell.

Amalia Vacca, senior in digital technology and culture at WSU Vancouver mentored by Dene Grigar; multimedia book (“AppBook”) used by educators to produce an interactive, immersive environment for teaching scientific concepts to students middle school through college.

Weir Fellowship:

Misa Shimono, junior in psychology at WSU Tri-Cities mentored by Dee Posey; relationship between a student’s mindset, statistics anxiety, statistics self-efficacy, achievement goals and performance in statistics class.

Auvil Scholars Fellowship:

Parot Charoonsophonsak, freshman in mechanical engineering and Honors College mentored by Mary Beth Hammerstrom; green energy including alternative fuels, energy generation and efficiency.

Zachary Reeves, freshman in electrical engineer mentored by Amit Dhingra; custom algorithms to execute programs and analyze data in the genomics and biotechnology lab.

Mia Ryckman, freshman in biology and Honors College mentored by Norman Lewis; stereoselectivities of the (+) and (-) pinoresinol-forming dirigent proteins from flax.

Philip Behrend, sophomore in mathematics and Honors College mentored by Dave Crowder; dilution effect (related to species richness) in disease ecology.

Michelle Chan, sophomore in animal science and Honors College mentored by James Pru; molecular mechanisms that direct development of the female reproductive system.

Vikram Chandra, sophomore in bioengineering and Honors College mentored by Murali Chandra; work on a recently discovered mutation in the human cardiac troponin T (cTnT).

Gabriel de la Cruz, sophomore in computer science mentored by Shira Broschat; dominant pathways by which resistance genes are propagated.

Natalie Nelson, sophomore in animal sciences and Honors College mentored by James Pru; chemoattractant protein stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and its role in establishing early pregnancy.

Joseph Olsen, sophomore in bioengineering mentored by Wen-Ji Dong; novel luminescent down-shifting (LDS) materials to solve the spectral mismatch issue of cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells.

Abigail Smith, sophomore in chemical engineer mentored by Bernard Van Wie; map distribution of cell adhesion molecules on the chondrocyte membrane and correlate density of adhesion molecules with the mechanical properties of cartilage tissue.

Joseph Traverso, sophomore in mechanical engineering mentored by Nikolaos Voulgarakis; mathematical model to study dynamics and thermodynamics of enzyme motion in DNA.

Sophie Ascaso, junior in zoology/pre-vet and Honors College mentored by Kwan Hee Kim; transcriptional interaction and influence of RARA and DMRT1 in the neonatal testis.

Brianna Berg, junior in biochemistry and Honors College mentored by Jonel Saludes; whether the isolated transmembrane domain (TMD) of prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) will form a dimer, which may help explain the dimeric form of intact PSMA.

Bryce Henderson, junior in biochemistry/microbiology and Honors College mentored by Hector Aguilar; interactions between two viral glycoproteins responsible for fusion and entry of a virus into the host cell, specifically paramyxovirus such as influenza and Nipah virus.

Evan Klein, junior in biochemistry, Spanish and Honors College mentored by John Alderete; growing E. coli to yield expression of a recombinant protein, actinin-string of epitopes (ACT::SOE), a linear protein comprised of the epitopes detected by women and men exposed to the sexually transmitted infection trichomonas vaginalis.

Joelle Martin, junior in biology, and Amy Nusbaum, junior in psychology, mentored by Paul Whitney; testing hypothesis that individual differences in reversal learning performance in people without brain injury are due to the differences in expectations people develop about choice outcomes.

Thanh-Thuy Dinah Nguyen, junior in education mentored by Susan Finley; At Home At School (AHAS) program’s impact on Asian American and Pacific Island (AAPI) students, specifically do AAPI students face barriers and challenges that impact learning in local school districts.

Maher Abujelala, senior in computer engineering and Honors College mentored by Matthew Taylor; artificial intelligence and robotics research using quadcopters (quad-rotor helicopters).

Jasmyn Bolar, senior in entrepreneurship/marketing mentored by John Kalu Osiri; entrepreneurial marketing research for a student founded online service called AlbumScanning.com.

Vanessa Rose, senior in environmental and ecosystem sciences mentored by Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens; harmful algal blooms affecting Vancouver Lake during the late summer months.

Katie Van Cleave, senior in biology mentored by Sue Ritter; how and where essential metabolic fuels – glucose and fat – are monitored and how fluctuations in availability of these fuels alters food intake.

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