Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS)
In 1999, Washington State University Graduate School was designated as an ARCS recipient school. The first ARCS Fellowships were awarded to the College of Veterinary Medicine through the Seattle Chapter of ARCS. The Seattle Chapter is one of twelve chapters of the ARCS Foundation which has supported graduate education in the natural sciences, medicine and engineering.
By offering financial incentives to graduate students, the ARCS program further encourages the study of science, medicine, and engineering at the most prestigious universities in the United States. Since 1958, the ARCS Foundation has awarded over $66 million to support research in the fields of science and technology. Nationally, 14 ARCS chapters support graduate fellowships at 43 universities. ARCS Foundation Fellows possess outstanding scholastic records and proven abilities, and receive multiple offers to study at other top national universities.
For more information about ARCS, please visit, the Seattle Chapter (ARCS).
2018-19 ARCS Scholars
Shannon C. Allen is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Immunology and Infectious Disease program. She is an NIH Protein Biotechnology Trainee interested in studying zoonotic diseases. In 2016, Shannon earned her bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from Middle Tennessee State University. While attending MTSU, Shannon completed an independent honors thesis in chemistry. Using bioassay guided fractionation and nuclear magnetic resonance analysis, she isolated, purified, and identified the compound responsible for anti-viral activity in Snapdragon. After graduating, she worked for one year as a quality control technician for Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories in Nashville, Tenn. performing microbiological and environmental testing. The following six months, she worked as a research assistant at East Tennessee State University studying the relationship between hypertension and kidney disease. After completing her Ph.D., Shannon hopes to become a principal investigator at a major university, conducting research and training future microbiologists. As an avid hiker and rock climber, Shannon made the most of her move from Tennessee to Washington, visiting beautiful places along the way, like Black Hills National Forest and the Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. Shannon is an animal lover and has a pet Chihuahua Yorkie mix named Daisy.
Rowan J. Calkins is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Neuroscience at Washington State University currently performing lab rotations to find a supervisor for her PhD program. She has performed research in a variety of fields, including: the protein-localization changes and creation of a proteome for the plant Nicotiniana benthamiana under viral infection by various rhabdoviruses; work in the Alltech, Inc. Nutrigenomics lab under Dr. Ronan Power researching the effect of dietary selenium on weight gain and brain inflammation, and; research into the effect of low-dose arsenic exposure on the metastasis of cancer cells. In her current summer internship, she has performed experiments to investigate the effect of homocysteine treatment on bEnd3 endothelial mouse cells, which has indicated an increase in proliferation under treatment not previously shown. Rowan earned her undergraduate degree in agricultural and medical biotechnology with a minor in biology from the University of Kentucky, where she graduated with a 4.0 GPA. After completing her PhD, she intends to continue her education and research neurodegenerative diseases and neuron repair in either a post-doc or an industry research lab. Rowan is originally from Wedgewood, Minn., but moved to Lexington, Ky., in high school and remained there until moving to Washington in August 2018. She loves singing, has been involved in various choirs since childhood, and has gone on many national tours and two international tours to Spain and Eastern Europe with the University of Kentucky Women’s Choir. In her free time, she enjoys taking care of her fish and her dog, Apollo, videos games and fantasy stories, and spending time on or under the water either boating or scuba diving. She hopes to continue performing as part of a choir, learning the guitar, and participating in Dungeons and Dragons storytelling with her current and future friends.
Elizabeth Campbell is a first-year PhD student, NIH Protein Biotechnology Trainee, and ARCS fellow in the Immunology and Infectious Diseases Program at Washington State University. She earned a combined honors bachelor of science (biology) and bachelor of music (vocal) degree from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada. She completed her undergraduate research with Professors Song Lee and Scott Halperin at the Canadian Center of Vaccinology. Her project focused on characterizing a protein-based oral mucosal vaccine against Bordetella pertussis, and antigen-targeting as a method to enhance the immune response to vaccine antigen in the oral cavity. Elizabeth also participated in the Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program at Harvard University, Mass., in Professor David Weitz’s lab. She worked on engineering and characterizing polymer-shelled microcapsules via the microfluidic technique to encapsulate enzymes for detergent dispersions. Her contributions to the project lead to a publication and patent submission. Elizabeth also worked at BASF, a chemical company in Wyandotte, Mich., where she helped develop a research platform on the interaction between bio-active materials and detergent formulations, and contributed to the development of an application test for bacteria removal from textiles. Elizabeth will begin at Washington State University rotating with three professors and working on various projects before deciding where her thesis work will be conducted. Upon graduation, she hopes to start her career in the research and development branch of the biotechnology industry. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys traveling and outdoor activities such as skiing, sailing, or canoe tripping.
Shane Carrion is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Animal Science under the supervision of Dr. Zhihua Jiang. His graduate studies will be assisting in comparative genome biology, attempting to construct a toolset that can profile the transcriptome and its multifaceted variants to accurately predict its impact on the phenome. Shane earned his bachelor of science degree in biology from University of Colorado Colorado Springs. During his time there, he was involved in research on the role of a set of genes in the Post Mating Prezygotic barriers that had recently evolved in two sister species of flies. This was completed under the direction of Dr. Jeremy Bono, resulting in several presentations. He is planning to continue working in the field of genetics in an industry capacity upon graduation. Shane’s wife works in university research and his son is going into eighth grade. A non-traditional student, Shane has spent time working in several industries the last 11 years before discovering his passion for biology, prompting a major career change. He enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and animal menagerie, hiking, home projects, and playing the latest video games with his son.
Dr. Mitchell T. Caudill is a first-year veterinary resident in the Combined Residency in Anatomic Pathology/PhD program within the College of Veterinary Medicine. He received a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology from the College of William and Mary, where he studied animal behavior. His research activities included summers spent studying primate communication at the Smithsonian National Zoo and San Diego Zoo, and a trip to Cameroon to study chimpanzee tool use. Additionally, while on campus he worked in an environmental toxicology lab documenting the effects of environmental mercury on songbird immune response, resulting in a publication. He completed his doctorate in veterinary medicine at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, where he additionally researched and published on the genetic regulation within the bacteria Brucella abortus, the agent responsible for the major zoonotic disease brucellosis. In his free time, Mitch enjoys playing modern board games and spending time with his wife and two cats, Vena and Cava.
Elizabeth (Liz) W. Goldsmith is a first-year PhD student and a first-year veterinary anatomic pathology resident in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology. Liz earned a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Macalester College in 2007. After graduating, she worked seasonally in wildlife field research in Alaska while guiding dog-sledding trips in northern Minnesota in the winters. Liz returned to school at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to complete her prerequisites for veterinary school from 2011-2013. While there, she conducted research on the population genetics of terrestrial rabies hosts in Alaska and worked as an intern for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Health and Disease Surveillance Program. In 2013, Liz began her master of public health in epidemiology from the Colorado School of Public Health and her doctor of veterinary medicine from the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. During her time at CSU, Liz worked on collaborative research projects with Alaska Department of Fish and Game and with the National Park Service, focusing on brucellosis and rabies in wildlife populations. As a veterinary student, Liz also completed immunology research on sex-specific differences in CD8+ T-cell response to infection at Cornell University and a research project with MPI Research, a contract research organization, on injection site background pathology in rabbits used for vaccine research. After completing the Combined Anatomic Pathology Residency/PhD Program at Washington State University, Liz will work as a boarded veterinary pathologist in academia or in industry. Liz has continued to be involved in the sled dog community, volunteering as a member of the veterinary team for the Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race in 2015 and 2017 and skijoring with her retired sled dog, Drum. In her free time, Liz enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, and hiking with her two dogs, Drum and Evelyn. She also has a snuggly grey cat, Otter Pop, and recently added four chickens to her home.
Dowen Jocson is an incoming first-year PhD student in the Department of Entomology under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Beers and Dr. David Crowder. She investigates vibrational communication in pear psyllids and how disruption in communication could be integrated in pest management. Dowen earned her bachelor of science degree in biology with a concentration in plant sciences from Saint Louis University. During her undergraduate career, she spent two years of research comparing reproduction success and pollinators of the two color morphs of Viola pedata, which was recently published in the Journal of Pollinator Ecology. She also earned her master of science degree in biology from Saint Louis University with her thesis focusing on how temperature may influence mating behaviors such as male mating signals and female mate preference in a Hemipteran (Enchenopa binotata). Dowen has four pending manuscripts stemming for her master’s thesis. After completing her PhD, she hopes to work with the USDA on developing non-chemical pest management strategies. Dowen has a red-eared slider named Michelangelo that has a huge personality. She loves playing board games, cooking, baking, napping, and looking at bugs.
Matthew A. King is an incoming first-year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in chemistry with a research emphasis and minors in mathematics and biology from Concordia University Irvine. Matthew conducted research for seven years under Dr. and professor Kenney in the fields of spectroscopy and inorganic synthesis, with his most recent work based on binuclear chromium complexes. After completing his PhD, Matthew hopes to work in a national lab before returning to academia. Matthew enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing games, and going to museums with his wife.
Merri Metcalfe is a first-year PhD student in the Bread Lab at WSU Mt. Vernon. Her research will focus on the accessibility, quality, and affordability of grain-based products from Western Washington with an emphasis on making nutritional food more available within our communities. She completed a master of science in sport nutrition at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) in May 2018 and is a registered dietitian by trade—but a philosopher at heart. She has spent many sleepless nights thinking about why we are here, the meaning of it all, and our place in this world. She has experience working in clinical dietetics, eating disorder treatment, and sport nutrition, but most recently has been moved by the great need to improve our food system. After learning about the Bread Lab at “Grain School”, an annual event at UCCS, she was incredibly inspired by both its mission and purpose, and decided to apply to their PhD program. The rest is history. She has never been more excited for a next step. In her free time, Merri enjoys cooking—especially with local ingredients—and her favorite place to be is boating on Lake Shasta where she loves wakeboarding in the early mornings when the water is calm. Finally, in the last few months she has started to develop a slight addiction to rock climbing.
Katherine Naasko is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Haiying Tao. She is working in cooperation with the NRCS to complete a soil health assessment project, looking at physical, biological and chemical aspects of soil in the Palouse. Growing up in Michigan, she tries to include outdoor activities in her daily routine, including hiking and photography. Katherine received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Michigan State University, where she graduated as an academic scholar. She discovered the importance of chemistry in the field of agricultural sciences as she received a minor in science, technology, environment and public policy, as well as a second minor in environmental studies and sustainability. She also had a summer internship working for a soybean, wheat, and corn pathology lab studying aphids and apothecia mushrooms. In addition to field experience, she also worked as a technician in MSU’s Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory. Entering into a graduate program in the Pacific Northwest is a dream come true for Katherine. After completing her PhD, she would like to utilize her unique educational background by working for the NRCS to address issues in soil fertility and improve efficiency, sustainability and productivity to improve soil health.
Miguel Rosas is a first-year rotating PhD student in the Plant Molecular Sciences Program. Miguel earned his bachelor of science in biology from California State University San Marcos. While there, he worked under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Escobar investigating nitrate induced class III glutaredoxin proteins and their regulatory role in the primary root growth of Arabidopsis thaliana. His contribution resulted in a publication in the Journal of Plant Physiology with two others well on their way. After completing his PhD, Miguel wishes to move back to San Diego and work in the biotech industry on recombinant protein production in plants before returning to academia. Miguel hopes to one day be a professor at the same university where he attended as an undergraduate. In his spare time, Miguel likes to go backpacking with friends, have bonfires at the beach, go on hikes with his dog, read science-fiction novels, and enjoy pizza with his family.
Eduardo J. Sánchez Díaz is a first-year PhD student in chemical engineering with Dr. Jim Petersen as his advisor. Eduardo earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico. While there, he conducted several research projects, the most recent for a course conducted by Dr. Omar Movil comparing the benefits that graphene electronic tattoos have over the standard electrodes. During and following his PhD career, Eduardo would like to continue developing his skills and acquire knowledge to create a better environment and quality of life for humans and nature with his research. Eduardo is an athletic student who enjoys outdoor activities, especially mountain biking, and other activities such as working on cars.
Kayla A. Spawton is a first-year PhD student at Washington State University’s Department of Plant Pathology under the supervision of Dr. Lindsey du Toit and Dr. Tobin Peever. She studies the ecology and management of fungal pathogens of vegetable seed. Kayla earned her bachelor of science degree in evolution, ecology, and biodiversity with a minor in fungal biology and ecology from the University of California, Davis. As an undergraduate, she contributed to research projects on sudden oak death in California’s coastal forests, soft rot of table grapes, and pitch canker of Monterey Pine. She also conducted an independent project on the insectgall diversity of a population of native sagebrush in California’s eastern Sierras. This research became her honors thesis and was later published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. After graduating, she worked as a microbiologist for three years at an agricultural biotechnology company researching plant-associated bacteria and fungi that promote crop growth. She then briefly returned to UCD to lead the California stream monitoring project of sudden oak death. After completing her PhD in plant pathology, Kayla hopes to work in university agricultural extension where she can conduct and communicate research of plant pathogens that growers are encountering. While not learning about fungi, Kayla enjoys watching films, ranging from those produced during Hollywood’s silent era to foreign new releases. She also enjoys crocheting, hiking, and listening to podcasts.
2017-18 ARCS Scholars
Brent Arnoldussen is a first-year Ph.D. student in the plant pathology department under the supervision of Dr. Mark Mazzola. His project will focus on the genotypic effects on the variation of exuduate composition of apple rootstocks, and their subsequent effects on recruiting beneficial microbes to the rhizosphere, which impart resistance to apple replant disease. Brent earned two BS degrees in horticulture and biology from The University of Wisconsin-River Falls. While there, he was highly involved in a variety of undergraduate research projects, most notably, his Ronald E. Mcnair Scholars project, looking at the effects of mycorrhizal helper bacteria on the colonization and growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Brent also worked on the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative project for 3 years for Dr. Silva. In addition, he has done work with bioremediation, a project which was presented at the National Council on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and two projects working with molecular genetics for a strawberry and ageratum breeding program on campus. At UWRF Brent served as president and treasurer of the Student Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and served as the student liaison on the faculty sustainability working group. Coming from an agricultural background, Brent’s main interest is in growing much of his own food and working with community farms and organizations to teach people about food production, as well as outdoor activities like fishing and backpacking. Upon the completion of his degree, Brent hopes to hold a faculty position working in research and extension in fruit or vegetable crop pathology, working to make production more economically and environmentally sustainable.
Megan Asche is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Entomology under the supervision of Dr. Richard Zack. She specializes in honeybee biology and agroecology. Over the next three years, Megan will be investigating the apiculturally significant predator/prey relationship between the family Vespidae and the species Apis mellifera (L.). Her master’s work was done at Washington State University where she studied the foraging and hygienic behavior of honeybee strains. Megan was awarded a B.A. in design from Western Washington University in 2007. She worked as a professional designer for over six years before beginning her career in science. Megan is an award-winning macro insect photographer and has contributed to many international scientific and outreach publications. After completing her Ph.D., Megan wishes to work within the commercial beekeeping industry before returning to academia.
Rachel M. Bone Relat is a veterinarian and first-year student in the Combined Residency in Anatomic Pathology PhD program. Rachel graduated with honors from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2017. In addition to her anatomic pathology residency, she will also pursue a Ph.D. through the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology. Currently, her interests are in virology, aquatic medicine, and herd health disease outbreak prevention. While attending veterinary school, Rachel was sponsored by Winrock International and the USAID to work in Bangladesh with local researchers and farmers to develop molecular techniques used to diagnose shrimp diseases. Prior to veterinary school, Rachel attended the University of Rhode Island and completed a M.S. in biology, specializing in sustainable agriculture and food systems under the guidance of Dr. Marta Gomez-Chiarri. Rachel earned her B.S. in ecology, behavior, and evolutionary biology with a minor in conservation biology from UCLA. During her academic tenure, Rachel has studied aquatic parasites in Costa Rica, effects of plant-based diets in carnivorous fish, and herpes viruses in sturgeon. After completing her Ph.D., she hopes to pursue her love of aquatic diseases within academia. Rachel is a 3rd generation veterinarian whose father and grandfather graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. While at UCLA Rachel played club water polo, and was nominated as an All-American Honorable Mention for her role as goalie. Married this past June, Rachel and her husband are looking forward to new opportunities for outdoor adventuring, and for her to improve her fly casting while in Washington.
Cody Cockreham grew up in New Mexico playing basketball, wrestling rattlesnakes, and trying to avoid the scorching desert sun. After graduating with a B.S. in chemical and materials engineering from New Mexico State University, he is pursuing his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Washington State University. His research prior to WSU includes working on synthesizing metal-organic frameworks for use in carbon capture technologies at New Mexico State University and developing electrospinning methods to control fiber diameter for in-situ vascular grafts at the University of Pittsburgh. For Cody, the most important thing in his current research and his career is to improve sustainability through new environmentally cleaner technologies because he is interested in preserving the natural beauty of the Earth. At New Mexico State University, Cody was the president of the Biomedical Engineering Society and a guest judge for the home brewing class. Cody has visited twenty countries in Europe and loves to travel.
Sedelia Dominguez earned a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. While at St. John’s, she conducted research for two years with Dr. Rachel Zufferey of the Biology Department. Her research included the study of arthropod-born protozoan parasites that cause important diseases in humans and animals. Over the span of two years, she conducted a combination of genetic, molecular and cell biology, and biochemical approaches. Soon she will be receiving a publication for a review on lipidomics and anti-trypanosomal chemotherapy. She hopes to continue to conduct her research in disease prevention and treatment at the CDC. Over the course of the past two years, Sedelia traveled to Honduras and Ghana to provide health preventives, treatments and education for underdeveloped communities. Outside the lab, Sedelia enjoys working out and spending time with family and friends.
Amanda L. Foreman is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology. She is a NIH Protein Biotechnology trainee, and will be completing rotations in laboratories in the Immunology and Infectious Disease program. Amanda earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in animal and nutritional sciences at West Virginia University. Her undergraduate and graduate work at West Virginia University examined the roles of nutrition on avian health and performance. This research lead to a publication on the effects of different diets on the health and well-being of cockatiels. She then completed a graduate certificate in infectious disease control at Thomas Jefferson University. At Thomas Jefferson University, Amanda’s research focused on developing a rabies virus based therapeutic colon cancer vaccine. Furthermore, she developed cell-based assays to show the success of the vaccine in vivo. This research lead to a publication on the effects of CD4+ T-cell help on antitumor immunity. While completing research at Thomas Jefferson University, Amanda also worked full-time at the biotechnology company Wuxi Apptec. She worked in the viral clearance department to determine the efficacy of drug purification processes in different pharmaceutical companies. Upon graduation from Washington State University, Amanda would like to become a principal investigator in academia focusing on preventative and therapeutic approaches to infectious diseases. When not engaging in scientific research, she spends her time outdoors with her dog, home brewing, and reading.
John A. Hadish is a first-year Ph.D. student who will be doing rotations in the Department of Molecular Plant Sciences. He is interested in applying the latest genetic techniques to agriculture in order to pursue a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world. John earned his B.S. degree in biology from Luther College where he was a part of several research projects and was a recipient of a McElroy Grant. He also was an NSF intern at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center where he performed research on developing a CRISPR Cas9 genome editing tool for Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. While at Luther John ran on both the varsity cross country and varsity track teams, and was involved in the schools chapter of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. He enjoys camping, gardening and reading science fiction books.
Ellis Hammond-Pereira will be a first-year Ph.D. student in the School of Chemical Engineering under the direction of Dr. Steve Saunders. He will begin research on the development of yolk-shell based nanocomposites to homogenize heterogeneous catalysts. Ellis earned his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Oregon State University. During this program, he worked as a learning assistant, and helped pioneer the Engineering Learning Assistant program at Oregon State under Dr. Milo Koretsky. The program was successfully implemented and is still in use. After completing his Ph.D., Ellis aims to conduct research and development of semiconductors. He is driven by a love of taking in and sharing knowledge, which has led him to consider a career in higher education. In his spare time, he enjoys both writing and deconstructing music, graphic design, video games, and fencing.
Lee Opdahl is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Tarah Sullivan. The subject of his dissertation research will be in the area of metal and micronutrient transformations by the rhizosphere microbiome that enhance plant nutrition and crop productivity. Lee earned his M.S. degree in animal science, and his B.s. degree in biology, microbiology, and biotechnology with minors in chemistry and psychology at South Dakota State University. During his master’s degree, he worked to identify candidate cellulose-metabolizing bacteria in the rumen of beef cattle, resulting in two articles soon to be submitted for publication. After his Ph.D., Lee will work for Ralco Agriculture based out of southwest Minnesota, where he will conduct research on crop enhancing products such as micronutrient fertilizers and seed treatment. Lee enjoys many outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, and canoeing, and also enjoys global travel, which he plans to do more of once he has completed his Ph.D.
Gregory L. Pearson will be pursuing his Ph.D. in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology & Pathology at Washington State University starting fall 2017. His primary research interests are focused on rickettsial organisms, but he is generally interested in vector-borne disease. Gregory earned a B.S. in exercise science with a minor in biology and a M.S. in biology at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. As a graduate student, Gregory completed a thesis under the supervision of Dr. Alison L. Fedrow, which was entitled “The surveillance of ticks and tickborne pathogens in the understudied region of southwestern Pennsylvania.” Also during this time, he was chosen as an intern for the Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (Summer 2016, Summer 2017) and worked in Dr. Allen L. Richards rickettsial diseases laboratory at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. As an undergraduate at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Gregory competed on the track and field team as a discus, shot put, and hammer thrower. He is regularly involved in weightlifting, playing sports, and hiking or other adventurous outdoor activities.
Kelly M. Ramsay is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease at Washington State University. She is also pursuing a residency in veterinary anatomic pathology through the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology and College of Veterinary Medicine. Currently, Kelly is exploring various labs, but she ultimately hopes to investigate zoonotic diseases that could ultimately lead to the improvement of both human and animal health. Kelly earned her B.A. degree in English literature and creative writing, with a minor in chemistry, from California State University, Long Beach. She then went on to intern at a marine mammal rehabilitation facility, as well as an exotic feline breeding and research center. She earned her D.V.M. at the University of California, Davis. During this time, she developed an interest in pathology and research. Volunteering at clinics that practiced a “one health” approach (the concept that human, animal and environmental health are inextricably intertwined) further drove her interest in researching diseases that affect both humans and animals. During her clinical year, she was an extern with the Johns Hopkins University Department of Comparative Pathobiology, as well as the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. After completing her residency and Ph.D., Kelly hopes to pursue a career in academia. This would allow her to pursue all her favorite aspects of pathology: diagnostics, teaching and research. In her free time, Kelly loves nature, traveling, weight lifting, dancing and discovering new craft breweries. Recent adventures include sledding down a volcano in Nicaragua, surfing in Kauai and hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
Matthew D. Romero is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Biomedical Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Jean Celli. He is principally interested in host pathogen interactions, particularly the molecular mechanisms used to bolster immunity or evade immune detection. Matthew completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas Tech University in microbiology. While in Lubbock, Matthew conducted research on bacterial toxins derived from human pathogens and how host cells respond to intoxication. Additionally, Matthew has taught several laboratory courses in immunology and microbiology and appreciates the opportunity to educate and communicate with young scientists. Outside of the laboratory, Matthew enjoys a few rounds of bowling, a few games of racquetball and a couple pints of homebrewed beer. Cooking is something Matthew is passionate about, and loves shopping in farmer’s markets for new or fresh ingredients to try in a dish. He is hoping to pursue a career in the biomedical industry, and is fortunate for the many opportunities provided by Washington State University to meet this goal.
Jessa Thurman is a first-year P.hD. student entering the Department of Entomology under the supervision of Dr. William Snyder. She will investigate parasitoid-host interactions for natural pest control in agricultural systems. Jessa earned her B.S. in biology from Hendrix College, where she also completed two years of research on the seed dispersion of anachronistic fruits alongside independent research on new species of gall wasps from Costa Rica under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Moran. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Jessa embarked on a year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study different applications of entomology in Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Peru, and the United Kingdom. The various projects within each country ranged from studying entomophagy, the consumption of insects, to using insects to control pests in tropical crop systems. While on the Watson Fellowship, Jessa was also awarded a William J. Fulbright to study the biological control of arthropod pests in macadamia nuts using parasitoid wasps for 2018. After completing her Ph.D., Jessa plans to further develop the methodology and social work required for using natural pest control. Jessa has worked as children’s librarian for six years and thoroughly enjoys teaching kids of all ages about the outdoors. She also organized TEDx events for her college and ran a local radio show on scientific research from Arkansas, her home state.
Joel A. Velasco is a first-year Ph.D. student in molecular plant sciences under the supervision of Dr. David Gang. His research seeks to elucidate the genomics of biosynthetic pathways that produce novel and important plant specialized metabolites. Joel earned his B.S. in biology with a botany emphasis from Boise State University. While there, he conducted two years of research into the effects of drought on the symbiotic association between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and Artemisia tridentata (sagebrush) under the direction of Dr. Marcelo Serpe. Joel also participated in the NSF-CEPCEB REU Program in Next Generation Plant Biology at the University of California Riverside for two summers under the guidance of National Academy of Sciences member Dr. Julia Bailey-Serres, which resulted in a publication that is currently in the review process. After completing his PhD, Joel wishes to pursue a postdoctoral position at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany with the hopes of obtaining the experience necessary to secure a position at a biotechnology firm, and eventually returning to academia and continuing to broaden the knowledge about specialized plant secondary metabolite synthesis. Joel is one of nine children and is a first generation college graduate. While at Boise State, Joel was a McNair Scholar and a resident mentor for TRIO Upward Bound. He enjoys any activity that involves puzzles and critical thought. He is also an avid music listener and live-music enthusiast.
Halle Weimar is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience Department at Washington State University. Born and raised in Kennewick, Washington, she earned a B.S. in neuroscience from WSU in 2017. Continuing her studies at WSU, Halle is rotating in the laboratories of Dr. Jon Davis, who studies feeding behavior, and Dr. David Rossi, who investigates development of the cerebellum. After receiving her Ph.D., Halle plans to further refine her skills through a postdoctoral fellowship and eventually become a teaching faculty and researcher. Throughout her current and future endeavors, Halle will strive to provide high-quality research to the growing body of work surrounding the human brain and nervous system. In addition to neuroscience, Halle enjoys hiking, photography, and travel.
2016-17 ARCS Scholars
Lori Bedient is a veterinary medical resident in the combined anatomic pathology/Ph.D. program at Washington State University. She received her B.S. in agriculture and D.V.M. at Kansas State University. While a veterinary student, Dr. Bedient had the opportunity to attend Aquamed, an intensive aquatic pathobiology program at Louisiana State University. Here she found a deep passion for both cultured and wild aquatic health issues. After graduation, she practiced small animal medicine for three years before returning to academia. She is most interested in opportunities in aquatic pathology and toxicological research and hopes to teach pathology after finishing her residency. She is a U.S. Army veteran, serving as a nurse in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and numerous stateside and overseas assignments. She and her husband have two little girls that keep her busy in her spare time.
Jacob Bray is a Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student at Washington State University under the guidance of Dr. Jean-Sabin McEwen. In this program, he will be focusing on catalysis research. In 2013, Jake graduated from Michigan Technological University (MTU) with a degree in chemical engineering. During his time at Michigan Tech he spent 15 months in Kentucky as a process engineering co-op for Domtar Paper Company. Jake is also the co-founder of a start-up alternative agriculture company, Northern Aquaponics LLC, which won the best technology award of $10,000 at Central Michigan University’s New Venture Competition in 2013. Following graduation, Jake began his career as a chemical engineer for the mid-western utility company, We Energies, working as the subject matter expert for all of the We Energies power generation assets in areas such as air quality control, waste water treatment, and various process and project operations. Jake married Maria, his fiancée of six years, this past September in their hometown of Marquette, Michigan. They enjoy spending time with their two dogs, Maple and Lentil, adventuring outdoors, and have a passion for coffee and coffee roasting, good breweries, spicy foods, and long road trips.
Jonathan Eagle is a Ph.D. student in plant pathology, interested in researching disease resistance and integrated disease management using cultural, chemical, biological, and biotechnological approaches. Jonathan earned his B.S. in biology at Henderson State University, where he was a member of the Honors College, a student leader, and an office assistant for the College. He served as president of the Biology Club, was president of the Henderson Honors College Heart and Key Service Organization, and was an active member of the Student Government Association. He is also a member of Beta Beta Beta, the Biological Honors Society as well as Gamma Beta Phi International Society. In 2014, Jonathan worked in in the laboratory of Dr. Javier Brumos at North Carolina State University as part of an NSF funded REU program, where he studied the regulation of auxin biosynthesis, examining specifically the effects of either activating or repressing selected transcription factor on the activity of the master auxin biosynthetic gene TAA1. Following his research, Jonathan presented at the Summer Undergraduate Symposium at NCSU. The summer of 2015, Jonathan traveled to Belize to conduct fieldwork on marine conservation and ecology as a member of the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Program at Henderson.
Rachel L. Gewiss is a Ph.D. student in the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University, with plans to study reproductive biology. Rachel earned her bachelor’s of science in genetics, cell biology, and development from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. A large part of her education there was doing research in Dr. David Zarkower’s laboratory for three years. Her senior thesis encapsulated her work on the potential role of Sox9 in sexual transdifferentiation of the mouse ovary. Rachel also spent a summer working at the Jackson Laboratory through their Summer Student Program in 2015, where she looked at the molecular role of RNA-modifying enzymes in the testis under the guidance of Dr. Robert Braun. After completion of her Ph.D., Rachel plans to continue research in academia in the reproductive biology field. Outside of the laboratory, Rachel is an avid curler, and was part of the 2013 University of Minnesota team that won the College Curling Nationals. She was also the Journal Club facilitator for the Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development Club. Rachel loves spending time in nature, playing the viola, and going to petting zoos.
Noe Gomez is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Animal Sciences at WSU. Originally from Santa Barbara, California, Noe went on to earn a B.S. in animal science with a minor in biology from the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo in 2014. He then relocated to the University of California, Davis, were he conducted research in the area of ruminant physiology and completed an M.S. in animal biology in 2016. At WSU, Noe will be working in the laboratory of Dr. Min Du conducting research in the area of nutrient metabolism. After his Ph.D., Noe hopes to get some experience as a livestock nutritionist before returning to teach and conduct research at the university level. His primary objective is to contribute to the field of science, which seeks to improve the efficiency of food production along with teaching the next generation of agricultural scientists. When not in the lab or covered in cow manure, Noe enjoys competitive volleyball games, long runs across the Palouse, and guitar jam sessions with his musically talented friends.
James R. Hepler is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Entomology under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Beers. His research focuses on integrated pest management for the brown marmorated stinkbug, an invasive insect pest of deciduous tree fruits. James graduated from the University of California, Riverside, where he earned his bachelor’s of science in entomology and plant biology. As part of his University Honors thesis he conducted two years of research into the reproductive behaviors of the carob moth, a pest of dates, under the direction of Dr. Thomas M. Perring. After earning his Ph.D, James intends to become a professor of entomology to combine his enthusiasm for agricultural pest research with his desire to teach others. James is active in his church’s college ministry and served as the president of The Well Christian Club at UC Riverside during his senior year. He is an avid long-distance runner, and enjoys traditional archery, hiking, and caring for his backyard citrus and pomegranate trees in Riverside, California.
Benjamin W. Lee is a Ph.D. student working under Dr. David Crowder in the Department of Entomology. He investigates how patterns of landscape and climate can affect the distribution and spread of insect pests and plant pathogens in agricultural fields. Ben earned a bachelor’s of science in entomology at Cornell University in the spring of 2016. While at Cornell, he conducted research on the physiology and ecology of the native and invasive lady beetles of New York State, resulting in the publication of his senior thesis. After graduate school, Ben would like to use his knowledge of agricultural and landscape ecology to improve subsistence farming in developing countries. He is a strong proponent of supporting local foods and farmers, and is a wine enthusiast who hopes to someday receive a master sommelier certification.
Becky H. Lee is a Anatomic Pathology Residency/PhD student in the Department of Veterinary Pathology and Microbiology at Washington State University. Becky recently graduated from a 4-year veterinary medicine program and received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of California, Davis. Using the summer during her vigorous veterinary school training, Becky completed research projects involving sequencing genomes and identifying genetic markers as therapeutic targets. Her most recent work with the T35 NIH Program at Stanford University is currently in the process of being published, and exemplifies comparative medicine in applying human medical therapies to animal disease. Upon starting at WSU, Becky hopes to find a research environment that can further expand her interests in comparative medicine and pathology. As extracurricular at UC Davis, Becky continued to develop her passion for shelter animals, and was an avid participant of fostering neonatal kittens and a Chihuahua rescue program. She enjoys outdoor adventures such as hiking, and is a novice photographer with her husband and animal family. She also enjoys at-home activities such as cooking and fiber art.
Alice Olson is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Molecular Plant Sciences and a part of the National Institute of Health Biotechnology Training program. She will be working with Dr. Helmut Kirchoff and Dr. Mark Lange to study photosynthetic membranes and terpenoids, respectively. Alice graduated with her bachelor’s of science in Environmental Science at the University of Wisconsin – Stout. While she was there she worked with Dr. Vande Linde on developing new methods for preventing the uptake of the heavy metal cadmium in crops. After obtaining her Ph.D., Alice plans on pursuing research in plant molecular structure. While working on her bachelor’s, Alice worked as a chemistry tutor, naturalist educator, and teaching assistant. She has a deep passion for teaching others about what she’s learned and helping them find success in their own lives. She also enjoys spending time outdoors, playing board games, and traveling.
Mikayla M. Strauss is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Kim Campbell and Dr. Arron Carter. She will be working with high throughput phenotyping in winter wheat. Nikayla received her bachelor’s degree in Soil and Crop Sciences with a concentration in plant genetics, breeding, and biotechnology from Colorado State University. During her time at CSU, she worked for the winter wheat breeding program under Dr. Scott Haley and was awarded the Triticeae Coordinated Agriculture Project grant for undergraduate research. With this grant, she developed a KASP marker assay for a novel trait in winter wheat, and also presented this research in the undergraduate research competition at the SASES national meetings. Also while at CSU, Nikayla was president of the Agronomy Club for two years. After completing her Ph.D., Nikayla hopes to become a cereal grain breeder. In her free time Nikayla enjoys hiking, backpacking, shooting, fishing, snowshoeing, and dancing.
Kaitlin Witherell is a Ph.D student in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease. She will be doing rotations in three laboratories for the first year and then select from one of those to begin her research project. She has a bachelor of science degree in Microbiology from the University of California Davis. While there, she worked at the University of California Davis Comparative Pathology Laboratory identifying microbes, particularly pathogenic microbes in a variety of submitted research animals including: fish, mice, rats, rabbits, and many others. For one summer she was a student lab assistant in a neurobiology laboratory. She also conducted research for two summers as an intern at Biolog Inc. After completing her Ph.D., Kaitlin would like to eventually run a microbiology laboratory in industry studying infectious disease. Outside of school, Kaitlin enjoys hiking, kayaking, jogging, baking, and spending time with friends and family.
2015-16 ARCS Scholars
Tara Burke Lewis is a PhD student in the Department of Crop Science, co-advised under the supervision of Dr. Arron Carter and Dr. Ian Burke. She is investigating herbicide resistance in wheat. She has enjoyed developing a cross-disciplinary skillset in the life sciences, initiated by a biotechnology vocational degree from the Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Maryland, which resulted in an internship at the FDA-CFSAN in 2003. She received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural biotechnology and master’s degree in plant and soil science from the University of Kentucky. Tara held lab technician positions in plant protein science and tobacco/tall fescue analytical chemistry laboratories at the University of Kentucky, and wrote a graduate thesis, “Selection and Basis for 2-4D Tolerance in Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).”
Christal R. Clements is a Clinical Microbiology resident/PhD student in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology. She has interests in infectious and zoonotic diseases and immunology. Christal obtained her DVM from Tuskegee University, and once she has completed her residency, would like to work to understand the biological mechanisms of poorly understood infectious organisms with efforts to create effective vaccines or treatments. Once she has completed her PhD, she would like to continue performing research and eventually enter academia.
Rachael DeTar is a PhD student in the Molecular Plant Science Program at Washington State University. In addition to the ARCS fellowship, she received a National Institute of Health Biotechnology Training Fellowship. She intends on rotating in several laboratories before choosing an advisor. Her research interests include photosynthesis, nutrient assimilation and metabolism in plants. Her goal during her time at WSU is to develop a better understanding of the biochemistry of plants and use these discoveries to improve agriculture and food security. In the future, Rachael envisions working in industry and using her knowledge of plant biology to develop crops that are higher yielding and resistant to climate stress. Rachael earned her B.S. in Biology summa cum laude from Colorado State University in the College of Natural Sciences. She also won a prestigious American Society of Plant Biologists Summer Undergraduate Research fellowship. Rachael is an author on two research papers, and is first name author on one paper.
Matt Marcec is a PhD student at Washington State University with the Molecular Plant Sciences program. Matt has earned an M.S. in biology from Northern Illinois University where he studied proteins of unknown function using the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. . Matt also taught two lab courses at NIU, the fundamentals of cell biology and the biology of land plants. Matt enjoys teaching and loves to study plants and plans to work in academia or industry hopefully studying how plants respond to their environment and how they can continue to feed and aid humanity. Matt also has a technical certificate in emergency medicine received from Florida College of Jacksonville where he volunteered as an EMT for three years.
Ryan Oliveira is a PhD student in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology. Ryan earned both his BS and DVM from Tufts University, where he researched lead toxicity in New England’s bald eagles and co-authored a federal publication. He coordinated his veterinary school’s tutoring programs the year after its founding and aspires to continue teaching in his career. After he completes his PhD, he wants to stay involved in wildlife disease and work in academia. His specific career interests include epidemiology, ecotoxicology, and zoological pathology.
Nicholas (Nick) D. Pokorzynski is a PhD student in the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2013 with his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology/Biotechnology. At Michigan State, he investigated the genetic basis of algal lipid biosynthesis in Dr. Christoph Benning’s laboratory. He currently has several research interests, and hopes to narrow them down during his first-year laboratory rotations. His first rotation will be in Dr. Susan Wang’s laboratory studying the “radical SAM” superfamily of enzymes to better understand the unique and difficult methyl-transfer chemistry performed by a subfamily of this enzyme and how it may relate to antibiotic synthesis.
Joseph M. Taylor is a PhD student in the Department of Entomology under the supervision of Dr. William Snyder. He investigates the role of natural arthropod predators in controlling insect agricultural pests. Joseph earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Russian language and culture from Washington and Lee University. While there he conducted three years of research into the feeding and hunting habits of generalist arthropod predators under the direction of Dr. Lawrence Hurd, which resulted in a publication and three additional articles well underway. After completing his PhD, Joseph hopes to work for the USDA on pest management before returning to academia and continuing to broaden his knowledge about the complex interactions between insect predators and their prey.
Jenny M. Voss is a PhD student at the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering of Washington State University. She is interested in working in the fields of catalysis and nanotechnology in hopes of finding solutions to current energy, environmental and medical challenges. Jenny earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Washington State University with honors while participating in multiple intramural sports teams, engineering clubs and two years on the women’s club soccer team. She spent two summers interning with BP Alaska and P66 Ferndale Refinery as a safety and operational risk engineer and as a process engineering intern respectively. After completing her PhD, she wants to work in a national lab with university connections as an academic professor focusing on both experimental and theoretical catalysis. She also strives to develop methods to produce economical catalysts to synthesize alternative fuels to supplement diminishing fossil fuel supplies.
Naomi K. Wallace is a PhD student in Neuroscience. She earned her BS in Psychology with a concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Denver. Naomi completed an undergraduate senior thesis on the relationships among socioeconomic status, sleep problems and mental health in 8- to 10-year-old children. She spent a semester abroad in Maastricht, The Netherlands, where she was able to learn more about positive psychology and the philosophy of science.
Breanna Wong is a PhD student at Washington State University’s Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. She earned her B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Idaho in 2015. During her time as an undergraduate, she represented the University of Idaho two years in a row in an international design contest hosted by New Mexico State University called Waste-Management Education Research Consortium (WERC). ). Breanna and her team won first place both years for their design of a floating solar cell system on a mine tailings pond and a radiative cooling system utilizing the night’s sky. During the summers, Breanna interned with Hewlett-Packard, first as a product steward and then as a metal deposition intern. The latter helped her realize her desire to seek out a PhD and to do research in thin films.
Jessica K. Wong is an anatomic pathology resident and PhD student in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology. Jessica earned her undergraduate degrees in Biology and International Comparative Studies from Duke University and her DVM from the University of Georgia. Jessica plans to use her pathology residency and PhD training to add to her diagnostic tools for investigating infectious disease and population health at the human-wildlife-livestock interfaces. Her dream job is to work in academia as a veterinary pathologist with both teaching and diagnostic duties.