May 15: Fry to receive award from WSU Libraries

By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries

Bryan-Fry-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Students of Bryan Fry’s “Honors Writing and Research” (English 298) class earn every bit of their research chops over the course of the semester. The bibliography for their final paper counts for 50 percent of the class grade.

A senior instructor in Washington State University’s Department of English, Fry said he believes the process leading up to the first typed word means everything.

“The more you emphasize research in the class, the better they can write,” he said. “Their research should lead them someplace; I want to see where they started and where they ended up. We allow our research to take us on a journey.”

Fry works with a student.

For helping the next generation of scholars navigate that journey, Fry will receive the 2014 WSU Libraries’ Excellence Award during a reception at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 15, in the Terrell Library atrium. The award recognizes a non-library WSU faculty or staff member who has shown consistent support for the WSU Libraries.

Recipients are chosen based on encouraging students to use the libraries; personal use of the libraries; personal support of or contributions to the libraries’ collections or services; interaction and cooperation with library faculty; and service on library-related committees.

Model team teacher

Fry, who also earned the College of Arts and Sciences’ Award for Excellence in Teaching by an Instructor this year, revamped the English 298 curriculum recently to include WSU librarians in his students’ preparation for advanced research.

Corey Johnson, WSU Libraries’ head of library instruction and Fry’s nominator, has worked with Fry to design and deliver the course’s library instruction sessions.

“Bryan Fry is one of the top instructors I have worked with in my 11 years at WSU,” Johnson said. “He is unique in that he suggests specific resource databases and journals that might be useful for the library instruction sessions. He clearly spends a great deal of time engaging with the research assignments he crafts for his students and has taken care to know and understand library resources available at WSU.

“Bryan understands the importance of finding topic-relevant, scholarly sources, and all of his courses feature many research skills-enhancement activities,” Johnson added. “It is not surprising to read comments from his students such as ‘I had never truly learned how to research before.’”

From biomedical engineering to Dr. Joseph E. Murray

One of those students is Victor Charoonsophonsak, a mechanical engineering major who took Fry’s course last semester.

The first human kidney transplant medical team and patients, from left to right: Dr. Joseph E. Murray, recipient Richard Herrick, Dr. John P. Merrill, donor Ronald Herrick and Dr. J. Hartwell Harrison. (Photo courtesy of Harvard Medical School via Wikimedia Commons)

For his final research paper, Charoonsophonsak wrote about Dr. Joseph E. Murray, the surgeon who performed the first successful human kidney transplant on identical twins Richard and Ronald Herrick on Dec. 23, 1954.

But it took the freshman and the rest of his classmates a semester of writing multiple assignments, refining searches and synthesizing source material to boil down topics to their final choices. Charoonsophonsak started with the broad topic of biomedical engineering, moving from there to organ transplantation to its history, its pioneers and finally to Murray.

“One thing I guarantee that I will take away from this class is the ability to conduct research,” Charoonsophonsak wrote in his cover letter for the final paper. “We spent half the semester learning techniques, taking tours to the library and even sitting down with one of the librarians to learn search techniques…

“There definitely were times that I struggled to find something through my research,” he added. “I can remember when I was trying to dig deeper into the topic of organ transplantation, but could not find a focus until I stumbled on the man, Dr. Murray. Yet, I was not complacent in the research I had done. I was able to dig even deeper, finding so much more detail and history behind my topic.”

Feedback like Charoonsophonsak’s is why Fry finds great rewards in emphasizing research as well as writing in English 298.

“This English course became more of a history course,” Fry said. “How many classes on campus have freshmen writing about a topic like this?”


Bryan Fry, WSU Department of English senior instructor, 509-335-2561,
Corey Johnson, WSU Libraries head of library instruction, 509-335-7735,
Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries public relations/communication coordinator, 509-335-6744,