PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University Emeritus Society of retired faculty has presented to students five undergraduate research awards and two grants in arts and humanities.

“Our organization underscores its mission to continuously advance our university, community, and state by making awards each year to exceptional students engaged in scholarly pursuits,” said Tom Brigham, society executive secretary and retired psychology professor.  “We are very pleased that our awards are something of a tradition at WSU, and we are happy to make a difference for so many.”

Society member Larry Fox, retired veterinary clinical science and animal sciences professor, made the award presentations at an April 14 event hosted by the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA).

Emeritus Society Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Awards

First presented in 2009, these $500 awards in five categories are intended to encourage students to strive for scholarly excellence. Recipients for 2022 are:

Diana Alonso, a digital technology and culture major mentored by Ruth Gregory; in the award category of arts, humanities, and creative activities for the project, “Design a Website for Undocumented Students Interested in Higher Education in Washington State.” It seeks to identify the obstacles that undocumented students encounter when pursuing a higher education and help overcome those barriers by creating a resource website for incoming and current undocumented Washington college students.

Jared Keinhofer, a computer science major mentored by Marcus Blaisdell; in the award category of engineering and applied science for the project, “LSTM versus Plot-based CNN for EEG Emotion-detection Tasks.” It involves gathering data from an electroencephalogram to create smart adaptive spaces that can respond to the user’s current emotional state, as detected from neurophysiological data in real-time and using two machine-learning approaches.

Shir Levy, a communication and society and psychology major mentored by Christopher Barry; in the award category of social, economic, and behavioral sciences for the project, “Perceptions of Confrontational Behavior in Sport Situations as a Function of Athlete Status, Narcissism, and Psychopathy.” The research shows that confrontational behavior is viewed differently as a function of sport versus non-sport contexts, and a person’s history as an athlete or non-athlete, and the perceiver’s self-reported narcissism, psychopathy, and self-esteem.

Forrest Fearington, a neuroscience major at WSU Vancouver mentored by Allison Coffin; in the award category of biosciences for the project, “Investigating a Molecular Mechanism of Noise-induced Inner Ear Synaptopathy.” This research investigates synaptopathy following acoustic trauma.  It is hypothesized that excess glutamate release following noise exposure binds calcium-permeable AMPA receptors, and that this excess receptor activation alters calcium influx in postsynaptic ganglion neurons causing synaptic damage.

Wyatt Wallis, a physics and astronomy major mentored by Mark Kuzyk; in the award category of physical sciences and mathematics for the project, “Characterizing Dye Doped PMMA by the Young’s Modulus Measured Against Intensity of Light, CTA Concentration, and Method of Fastening.” The research investigated the consequences of applying tensile stress to a number of properties of PMMA fibers.

Emeritus Society Undergraduate Research Grant in Arts and Humanities

These awards were new in 2021 and each provides $1,000 to support original undergraduate scholarships in the arts and humanities. Recipients for 2022 are:

Nakia Cloud, an anthropology major and linguistics minor mentored by Trevor Bond. His project, carried out in cooperation with the Tribe Cultural Resource Program, is part of a grant-funded effort to digitize and interpret Nez Perce Native American material culture as it is linked to the McWhorter Collection at W-S-U. This will help preserve Nez Perce tribal history by recording video interpretations and memories of current members as they respond to historical photos, documents, and artifacts.

Tanya Rivera, a speech and hearing sciences major mentored by Georgina Lynch. This project examines Hispanic families with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and seeks to determine the factors that shape how they navigate healthcare delivery, from diagnosis through initial treatments.