SURCA presents undergraduate research awards

A group photo of the 2022 SURCA winners
At the awards ceremony, 43 students from WSU Pullman and Vancouver and the Global Campus were announced as recipients of 33 awards (photo by WSU Photo Services).

PULLMAN, Wash.—More than one-third of the Washington State University students who presented posters at the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) 2022 on March 28 will receive monetary awards for their top-quality efforts.

SURCA is the unique WSU-wide venue for students from all majors, years in college, and all WSU campuses to share their mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities, and have judges evaluate their work shown on a poster. At this year’s event, around 140 students from four campuses were among those accepted to present 112 posters to 90 judges. Faculty, postdoctoral students, and community experts used a common rubric to evaluate and score presentations across nine SURCA categories.

At the awards ceremony, 43 students from WSU Pullman and Vancouver and the Global Campus were announced as recipients of 33 awards. In total, nearly $8,000 will be given to support their efforts.

Showcasing high-impact activity and learning

“It is always a pleasure to see what our students are researching, and to have them together to present in person in one room again this year was great,” said Jeremy Lessmann, director of the WSU Office of Undergraduate Research. It is part of the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA) in the provost’s office.

“Undergraduate research is vital to our university as a high-impact activity that enriches every student’s academic pursuits, and to host SURCA as the premier place to showcase their work is both an honor and a tradition,” said William B. Davis, interim vice provost for academic engagement and student achievement.

SURCA 2022 awardees

Four levels of awards in each SURCA category are possible, ranging from the top crimson award to the second-highest gray award, and also covering early-career awards for first-year and sophomore students and a novice researcher award for those engaged in a project for two semesters or less.

By SURCA category, the top presenters’ names, majors, mentors, and project titles for 2022 are:

Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Sciences


  • Dana Pittman
    Biochemistry and Honors College
    Mentor: Bill Davis

    “Implementation of Coefficient of Variation for Fluctuating Mice Ecology When Modeling Zoonoses Using Stochastic Methodologies”

Organismal, Population, Ecological Evolutionary Biology


  • Randi Richards (WSU Vancouver)
    Mentor: Stephanie Porter

    “The Distribution and Genetics of Resistance to UV Irradiation in Nitrogen Fixing Soil Bacteria”


  • Alexander Iritani
    Environmental and ecosystem sciences
    Mentor: Michael Phelps

    “Influence of Egg Size and Egg Metabolism on Survival and Fitness of Chinook Salmon Embryos”

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology


  • Alexandra Malena
    Neuroscience and psychology
    Mentor: Ryan McLaughlin

    “Long-Term Effects of Maternal Cannabis Use on Offspring Emotional Reactivity and Anxiety-like Behavior in Rats”
  • Olivia Hayden
    Biochemistry and Honors College
    Mentors: Alan Goodman and R. Marena Guzman

    “Dredd Protects Against Coxiella burnetii Infection in Drosophila melanogaster
  • Evelyn Rowe
    Basic medical sciences and Honors College
    Mentors: Alan Goodman and Chasity Trammell

    “Insulin-mediated Antiviral Immunity to WNV Using the Drosophila melanogaster


  • Rafael Urrutia-Camargo
    Neuroscience and Honors College
    Mentor: Ryan McLaughlin

    “Effects of Lateral Habenula 2-Arachidonylglycerol Manipulation on Dorsal Raphe Nucleus Immediate Early Gene Expression”
  • Stephen Fawcett
    Microbiology and Spanish and Honors College
    Mentor: Michael Letko

    “Characterization of Novel Cell Lines for Viral Infection Assays”
  • Sean Thompson
    Genetics and cell biology and Honors College
    Mentor: Ryan Driskell

    Natalie Williams
    Microbiology and Honors College
    Mentor: Ryan Driskell

    “Developmental Timing of Rete Ridges in Porcine Skin Offers Insights into Human Skin Formation” 
  • Alexandra Puzon
    Microbiology and Honors College
    Mentor: Steven Roberts

    “Characterizing Mechanisms of Indel Mutations Induced by APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B”
  • Ty Gray
    Mentor: David Rossi

    Justine Strickler
    Biology and neuroscience
    Mentor: David Rossi

    “Genetic Drift of the C57BL6/J Mouse Supports a Role of the Cerebellum in Genetic Predilection to Alcohol Use Disorder”

Research Proposal


  • Kalli Stephens
    Genetics and cell biology
    Mentor: Wipawee Winuthayanon

    “Proteomic Analysis of Extracellular Vesicle Content in the Mouse Oviduct During Early Pregnancy”


  • Olivia Willis
    Neuroscience and psychology and Honors College
    Mentors: Cheryl Reed and Xianming Shi

    “Exploring the Stereotypes of Scientists in Fourth Through Eighth Grade Students”
  • Maya Nuno
    Neuroscience and psychology and Honors College
    Mentor: Angela Henricks

    “Sex Differences in the Drinking Behavior of Dependent and Non-dependent Rodents”

Applied Sciences


  • Lauren Forseth
    Mentor: Qiang Zhang

    “Multifunctional Hierarchically Porous Materials for the One-pot Fixation of CO2 with Alkenes”


  • Ivy Woltering
    Environmental and ecosystem sciences
    Mentor: Arjan Meddens

    “Analyzing Post-wildfire Regeneration Via Satellite Remote Sensing in the Umatilla National Forest”



  • Noah Howell
    Computer science and Honors College
    Mentor: Lydia Gerber

    “The Impact of Taoism on Women in China”

Engineering and Physical Sciences


  • Gunnar Sly
    Chemical engineering and Honors College
    Mentor: Jean-Sabin McEwen

    “Elucidating X-ray Photoelectron Spectra of RhCu SAAs from First-Principles”
  • Christine Lovingier
    Mentor: Cliff Berkman

    “PSMA Targeted Turn On Probe for Imaging Cargo Release in Prostate Cancer Cells”
  • Eleanor Curtright
    Civil engineering and Honors College
    Mentor: Pete Robichaud

    “Reflective Ash: Determining Spectral Signatures of Wet and Dry Wildfire Ash”


  • Zakora Moore
    Mentors: Bernard Van Wie and Kitana Kaiphanliam

    “Determining Kinetic Parameters for a Mathematical Model to Optimize Growth of Cancer-fighting T Cells in a Perfusion Bioreactor”
  • Emma Gunter
    Strategic communication and Honors College
    Mentor: Lynne Cooper

    Jacob Mahon
    Mechanical engineering
    Mentor: Lynne Cooper

    Reid Parsons
    Mechanical engineering and Honors College
    Mentor: Lynne Cooper

    Evan Rodriguez
    Bioengineering and Honors College
    Mentor: Lynne Cooper

    Calli Shafer
    Finance and marketing
    Mentor: Lynne Cooper

    Caden Weiner
    Computer science and Honors College
    Mentor: Lynne Cooper

    Rachel Willison
    Mentor: Lynne Cooper

    “Aircraft Skin Defect Inspection Via Drone”
  • Emma Speight
    Physics and astronomy
    Mentor: Brian Collins

    “Dynamics of Ordering of Conductive Polymer Films Printed Under Controlled Airflow”
  • Joshua Bilsky
    Chemistry, physics, and astronomy and Honors College
    Mentor: Fred Gittes

    “Statistical Analysis of Brownian Motion Data Published in Jean Perrin’s Book ‘Les Atomes’”


  • Erich Whitley
    Chemical engineering and Honors College
    Mentor: Su Ha

    “Bimetallic Catalysts for the Ethanol Oxidation Stage of the CAPER Process”

Arts and Design


  • Ruben Estrada, Ben Fleiss, Camree Kunze
    Architectural studies
    Mentor: Minyoung Cerruti

    “Circle Care Pediatric Hospital”


  • Ailee Simpson
    Human development
    Mentors: Shelby Ruiz and Julia Day

    “Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC) Program”

Social Sciences


  • Caitlin Ottaway
    Neuroscience and psychology and Honors College
    Mentors: Courtney Kurinec, John Hinson, Paul Whitney

    Matteya Proctor
    Neuroscience and psychology and Honors College
    Mentors: Courtney Kurinec, John Hinson, Paul Whitney

    Cheyenne Schneider
    Neuroscience and psychology
    Mentors: Courtney Kurinec, John Hinson, Paul Whitney

    “Sleep Loss and Risk Taking: An Integrative Review”
  • Mollee Gray
    Neuroscience and Honors College
    Mentors: Paul Whitney and John Hinson

    “The Relationship Between Somatic Markers and Working Memory in Risky Decision Making”


  • Bailey Maykovich
    Communication and society and strategic communication
    Mentor: Erin Tomson

    “That Girl: The Evolution of Female Archetypes and Their Impact on Young Women’s Mental Health”
  • Brianna Cabral
    Criminal justice and criminology and psychology
    Mentor: David Makin

    “Public Safety Employee Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
  • Sierra Sumner (Global Campus)
    Mentor: Lee Daffin

    “Trauma Bonding in the Family-of-Origin”


  • Jacqui Thomasson
    Journalism and media production, management and Honors College
    Mentor: Lisa Waananen Jones

    “Ethical Decision Making in Relation to Myocarditis News Headlines”     

Next Story

Recent News

Brad Corbin named to NCAA Division I Council

The National Collegiate Athletic Association recently appointed Corbin, deputy director of athletics, to the council for a four‑year term.

New spring wheat variety named for pioneering Black family

Bush soft white spring wheat honors settler George Bush and his family who helped indigenous populations battle disease and saved fellow settlers during the 1852 famine.

Robotic gripper for automated apple picking developed

A robotic gripper developed by WSU researchers was able to successfully grab more than 87.5% of the apples in an orchard without damaging the fruit.

Celebrating Pride Month

WSU President Kirk Schulz shares a message of encouragement and support for national Pride Month.