Summer research brings undergraduates to WSU

By Michelle Fredrickson, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture

PULLMAN, Wash. – Nearly 60 undergraduates from around the country have arrived at Washington State University for unique summer research experiences working with faculty mentors on a wide variety of projects.

“You get to live, learn, breathe, eat and sleep research,” said Shelley Pressley, director of undergraduate research, part of WSU’s Office of Undergraduate Education, as she addressed many of the students on their first day.

She coordinates summer research across a dozen projects in Pullman and on WSU’s urban campuses. Disciplines range from computer science to atmospheric research and smart environments, and from horticulture and psychology to veterinary medicine. Funding comes through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other sources.

Every student will work with a faculty mentor on a specific part of an ongoing research project. At the end of the session – programs typically run 10 weeks – the students’ work will be shared at a poster presentation Aug. 2 in the Smith CUE atrium. Throughout summer, brownbag luncheons will provide students with networking opportunities with research faculty.

The summer programs emphasize important components of undergraduate research – mentoring by faculty, originality of work, use of methods accepted and normal within the particular discipline and sharing of project processes and outcomes via the poster presentation.

For students hoping to pursue research in the future, getting training as an undergraduate is important. Participants get to experience what graduate school might be like and determine if they are suited to a research-oriented career. More immediately, students expand their resumes and get a feel for different types of careers.

Many of the students live in one of two WSU fraternity chapter houses, which gives them the opportunity to make connections and learn about different types of research their new friends are doing.

“It’s one more great opportunity to see what various fields’ research is like,” Pressley said.

She also emphasized the fun aspect of summer in the Pullman area. Her office gathered information suggesting recreational activities and more for the students. She encourages the students to have some fun exploring the area and participating in activities unique to the Palouse and eastern Washington.

Learn more about these summer programs at