Largest SURCA competition names 51 top researchers


By Beverly Makhani, Office of Undergraduate Education

SURCA logoPULLMAN, Wash. – The 2015 Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) at Washington State University broke many records March 30 – in participation, attendance and number of winners, awards and sponsoring donors. 

Judges presented 44 awards to 51 winners. Participating in SURCA were 189 students from four campuses plus WSU Extension.

“The quality of presentations made by students in disciplines across the university and the depth of knowledge they expressed about their projects was outstanding,” said Shelley Pressley, director of undergraduate research, a program in the WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, host of the event.

Several SURCA participants indicated they are co-authors of research papers in progress that they anticipate will be published in scholarly journals.

“The impact of their work is furthering the efforts of their mentors while also adding to the knowledge base in their field,” Pressley said.

Five sponsors provided a generous pool of award money: Alturas Analytics, Inc.; The Boeing Co.; Decagon Devices, Inc.; the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program; and the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

“We anticipate even larger events in the future, with more employer connections and recognition for students,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “As WSU’s signature event for undergraduate researchers, SURCA’s future is exciting.”

An abstract booklet describing every project is on the SURCA website.

The highest award is the Crimson, followed by Gray. Novice Researcher awards are for students who have worked one or two semesters on their projects and show exceptional promise. Early Career awards are made to freshmen and sophomores.

By SURCA category, the 2015 winners, their fields of study and mentors are:

Applied Sciences
Crimson:  Jessica Murray, food science and hospitality business management, mentor Craig Morris

Gray: Victoria Minette, food science, Carolyn Ross

Arts and Design
Crimson:  Adam Denny and Frankie Dunn, digital technology and culture, Dene Grigar, WSU Vancouver

Gray:  Miranda McCrory and Uris Giron, interior design, Kathleen Ryan

Early Career: Alyssa Korinke and Kate Palermini, digital technology and culture, Will Luers, WSU Vancouver

Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics and Information Sciences
Crimson: Daniel Herrera and Joseph Traverso, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering respectively, Nikolaos Voulgarakis, WSU Tri-Cities

Crimson: James Pappas, history and humanities-general studies, Noriko Kawamura

Gray: Joshua Johnson, history, organic agriculture certificate and Honors College, Robin Bond

Early Career: Claire Thornton, history and Honors College, Lydia Gerber

Engineering and Physical Sciences
Crimson: Benjamin Schuessler, materials science and engineering, Pui Ching (Amy) Wo; Zane Duke, bioengineering and Honors College, Anita Vasavada; and Ashton Powell, chemistry, Paul Benny

Gray: Alexander McCue, chemistry, Aurora Clark; Muad Saleh, materials science and Honors College, John McCloy; and Samuel Byrd, bioengineering and Honors College, Howard Davis

Novice: Joseph Kabel, materials science and engineering, John McCloy

Molecular, Cellular and Chemical Biology
Crimson:  Samantha Grover, bioengineering, Dmitri Tolkatchev; Sophie Ascaso, zoology/veterinary medicine and Honors College, Kwan Hee Kim; Brianna Berg, biochemistry and Honors College, and Jack Hyder, general studies-biological sciences, Jonel Saludes; and Alexandra Vaughn, neuroscience, Krzysztof Czaja

Gray: Hannah Pulcastro, neuroscience/pre-med, Bertrand Tanner; Kayla Cribbin, zoology/pre-med and Honors College, Joanna Kelley; Miles Linde, biochemistry and philosophy and Honors College, and Marina Martin, biochemistry/pre-med and Honors College, Alan Goodman; Vikram Chandra, bioengineering and Honors College, Murali Chandra; and Brandon Graham, bioengineering and Honors College, Wenji Dong

Novice: Megan Caruso, bioengineering and Honors College, Monica Hinds

Organismal, Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Biology
Crimson: Edward Thomas, agricultural biotechnology, Dean Glawe; and Katie Wat, wildlife ecology and conservation, Lisa Shipley

Gray: Travis King, zoology and Honors College, Daniel Thornton; Kayla Titialii, zoology, Erica Crespi; Nicholas Greene, neuroscience and psychology, Rebecca Craft; Scott Mitchell, biology, Dave Evans and Sarah Anderson; and Daniel Nicoara, biochemistry, Raymond Quock

Social Sciences
Crimson: Quinn Sullivan, apparel, merchandising, textiles and design, Ting Chi; Maira Birrueta, psychology and Spanish, Paul Kwon; Lauren Rachel Young, history/pre-law and Honors College, Lydia Gerber; and Ariana Garcia, sociology and social sciences-general studies, Kathleen Rodgers

Gray: Colleen Chalmers, psychology and human development and Honors College, Brittany Rhoades Cooper; Amy Nusbaum, psychology, Paul Whitney and John Hinson; Melissa Halley and David Saldivar, psychology and zoology respectively, John Hinson, Paul Whitney and Arig Aboulenein; Rebecca Ly, management information systems, Doug Hindman; Geddie Lojas, nursing and Honors College, Gail Oneal, WSU Spokane; and Iris Charlotte Koning and Joelle Martin, psychology and neuroscience respectively, John Hinson, Paul Whitney and Christina Wilson

SURCA winners Daniel Herrera and Kayla Titialii also received matching monetary awards from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program for first-generation or multicultural students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.