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The School of Biological Sciences SBS Stories

Registration is open: Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students

Registration for the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Indianapolis, Indiana, November 14-17 is now open.  This has been a great meeting for WSU undergraduate students involved in any type of biomedical research. Students are encouraged to submit abstracts and apply for travel awards.  A couple of important things:

  1. Student travel awards are found on the blue “apply for a judge travel award” link on the ABRCMS web site .  (I am told this will soon change to a more obvious link).  All qualified students should apply for a travel award.
  2. All undergraduate students, not just students from underrepresented groups, are welcome at the meeting and will benefit from the STEM presentations, professional development opportunities, and the graduate school and summer programs fair with more than 300 programs recruiting students.  Graduate students are also welcome.

PAID Summer Research Opportunities for Undergraduate

Looking to get some research experience this summer? The following SBS faculty members are looking for undergraduates to work in their labs. Email them directly to apply!

At WSU Pullman:

Dr. Wes Dowd (

           Project: Multiple stressors of tidepool copepods

Dr. Erica Crespi and Jesse Brunner ( or

           Project: Stress and disease ecology in the wood frog – ranavirus system

Dr. Ben Harlow (

           Project: Gaining technical lab experience in the WSU Stable Isotope Core Facility

Dr. Mechthild Tegeder (

            Project: Molecular biology of plant nutrient dynamics

At WSU Vancouver:

Dr. Jonah Piovia-Scott (

            Project: Amphibian conservation in the Cascades and Sierras

SBS Graduate Students Take Top Honors

Pictured: Erika Serrano

Inaugural Week of Women in STEM

By: Sophia O’Brien

WSU’s inaugural Week of Women in STEM will be held April 2-5. It is a week to celebrate, acknowledge, and inspire women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Women remain underrepresented in all fields of STEM, and are continually paid less than their male counterparts. Women can be credited for many accomplishments in science, but have historically been shadowed by male peers. While there are pioneers for women in the STEM fields like Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, Mary Leakey, and Rosalind Franklin, young girls are still in dire need of role models in their everyday lives. The week is designed to help Washington State University women in STEM gain the confidence they need to excel in their futures.

On Monday, a screening of the acclaimed movie Hidden Figures will take place, it is the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. CUB Auditorium at 8 p.m.

Events continue on Tuesday with a keynote address by Cougar Alumnae, Starbucks Executive V.P. and Chief Technology Officer, Gerri Martin- Flickinger.

A dinner on Wednesday night will include a networking session and panel discussion with STEM professionals. Dr. Noel Schulz, WSU First Lady and professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will moderate the discussion. This is a private event that required previous registration and invite.

Thursday includes workshops by AAUW on salary negotiations. It will compromise of two workshops, one for those just beginning in their careers, and another on how to advocate for a raise or promotion. AAUW’s research on the gender pay gap shows that, one year out of college, women are already paid significantly less than their male counterparts.

The week wraps up with showings of WSU Performing Arts production of the play Silent Sky. Based on the true story of astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, the play explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed—until men claimed credit for them.

Animal Cognition, Communication Expert Pepperberg to Deliver Jonas Lecture in Biology at WSU

Dr. Irene Pepperberg will present the 2018 Robert Jonas Lecture in Biological Sciences, “Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots,” on Tuesday, March 27, at 6:00 p.m. in Todd Hall, 230. Pepperberg is a lecturer and research associate at Harvard University and well known for her comparative studies into the cognitive fundamentals of language and communication. She was one of the first to work on language learning in animals other than the human species. She is also active in wildlife conservation, especially related to parrots.

The 2018 Robert Jonas Lecture is sponsored by the WSU Zoology Club, School of Biological Sciences, and College of Arts & Sciences. The lectureship was established in memory of professor “Bob” Jonas, who taught biology and wildlife management at WSU for 25 years, and brings to campus prominent speakers on important conservation and environmental topics.