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Undergraduate researchers receive WSU SURCA awards

PULLMAN, Wash.— More than 235 students, presenting just over 200 posters, landed a total of 51 awards at Washington State University’s largest-ever Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) this week, according to Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, which hosted the event.

The undergraduate awards totaled $10,900. Twenty students were presented with the highest crimson awards, while 18 received the second-highest gray awards, 6 received novice awards, given to those who worked no more than two semesters on their research and showed exceptional promise, while two earned early career awards, reserved for freshmen and sophomores only, and five got honorable mentions.

The awards were presented in each of SURCA’s eight participation categories, which are designed to cover all majors in all disciplines across the institution. The number of awards possible in each category is determined by the number of students participating. The molecular, cellular, and chemical biology category was the largest with 51 posters presented by 52 students.

“There were so many strong presentations,” Mary F. Wack, WSU vice provost for Undergraduate Education, said at the awards ceremony. “I was inspired to observe firsthand the knowledge, excitement, and passion all of the students brought to their projects.”

SURCA Poster Session Awards 2016
SURCA Poster Session Awards 2016

Wack told the students that “with your mentors, you are creating solutions to societal, technical, and many more types of problems, and you are generating vast amounts of new knowledge. The university, the state of Washington, our nation, and the world will benefit from your efforts. For that, you are all winners.”

Mary Sánchez Lanier, assistant vice provost, thanked all participants, their mentors, judges, volunteers, and sponsors of the fifth annual poster event, which is open to students in all grades and majors on every campus in the WSU system. Sponsors included: Alturas Analytics, The Boeing Company, Decagon Devices, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program, and the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

“It is the great numbers of people who believe in undergraduate research that make an event like SURCA possible, but it is the student researchers themselves who make it successful, and by all measures, SURCA 2016 was a great success,” said Sánchez Lanier. “At our top research university, we can be very proud of every participant and their tenacious pursuit of knowledge.”

SURCA 2016 marks the fifth year that students participating in mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities made public presentations on their work, and “it is this exchange of information that advances all fields of scholarship,” Sanchez Lanier said. The day of the event—March 28—marked the 126th anniversary of Washington State University, as well. And 2016 is also the year that the Office of Undergraduate Research, which is part of WSU Undergraduate Education, celebrates its 10th anniversary. SURCA is traditionally the closing event for WSU Showcase Week.

A complete list of awards and award-winning students is available online at

For more information, visit the website.

Media contacts:

Shelley Pressley, Director of the WSU Office of Undergraduate Research, 509-335-5488,

Beverly Makhani, Director of Communication, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679,

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