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Washington State University Graduate School

ARCS: Recruiting the Brightest Scholars


Since 2000, the WSU Graduate School has been a strategic partner with the ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation Seattle Chapter, which provides financial awards to outstanding Ph.D. students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Each year the best and brightest scholars are selected to become ARCS Fellows from the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, the College of Architecture and Engineering, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. These highly capable individuals, with three years of financial support from the ARCS Foundation, become the next generation of scientific leaders and innovators.

The ARCS fellowships enhance WSU’s ability to recruit the best students while also providing students the opportunity to grow in confidence and leadership skills. ARCS Foundation Seattle Chapter members include a long list of philanthropists whose generous donations have enabled 1,115 fellows from WSU and the University of Washington with awards totaling more than $15.4 million since it was founded in 1978. There are currently 38 ARCS Fellows studying at WSU.

Second-year Ph.D. student Drew Neyens, a 2013-2016 ARCS Fellow and neuroscientist, is looking at how the brain works in relation to eating and appetite control. He says that the hormone leptin increases the brain’s sensitivity to signals that tell us to stop eating.

“A person with higher levels of circulating leptin will feel full sooner,” he says. “People who are insensitive to leptin may not know when they’re full. If we can gain a better understanding of this process, we may be able to combat obesity.”

In addition to the mentorship of the ARCS Foundation members, the advantages of being an ARCS Fellow are broad. “Being an ARCS Fellow holds me to a higher standard of research,” says Drew. “It creates peace of mind and provides amazing connections in the scientific community.”

But being an ARCS Fellow doesn’t just influence life as a student. ARCS Fellows have graduated into the world to accomplish some pretty amazing things. Caroline Herndon, an ARCS Fellow from 2006 to 2009, is now a postdoc at Harvard Medical School studying the process that prompts the body’s natural immune system. Like Drew, Caroline describes her ARCS Fellowship as rewarding, especially getting to know the ARCS members.

“I always came away feeling inspired, and I’m not sure anyone knew how much it meant to me,” she says.

The ARCS Fellowship is just one way the Graduate School is attracting high-caliber graduate students to WSU. We understand that research at a Tier-1 research institution like Washington State University hinges upon graduate students working side-by-side with faculty. By recruiting bright scholars who help strengthen research, advance knowledge, and participate in the world of discovery, the Graduate School is fulfilling its mission of service to society.

The ARCS Fellowship is just one of the many scholarships that the Graduate School facilitates. To find out more, visit

Bill Andrefsky, Dean
Bill Andrefsky, Dean

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