Outstanding Graduates 2020
Each year, outstanding graduate students are selected by their program faculty and recognized by the Graduate School for their contributions to the community, strength of scholarship, leadership abilities, teaching excellence, academic achievement, and promise for the future. These outstanding graduates completed degrees Summer 2019 through Spring 2020. Congratulations!
Master of Science, Kinesiology - Exercise Science
Maxx is one of those rare students who does exceptionally well in all his classes, is humble, respectful, and an excellent team player. In addition, he was also an excellent graduate teaching assistant. Students provided very positive feedback about Maxx’s teaching style and mentioned that he was direct, clear, and patient when teaching and was always willing and available to help outside lab time. Overall, Maxx is an exceptionally bright student with strong teaching, organization, and leadership skills.
Master of Science, Chemistry
Douglas Baumgardner is a veteran of the Armed Services who received his B.S. in chemistry from WWU in 2018. He worked on many collaborative projects in the Chemistry Department as an undergraduate, but took on a novel project for his M.S. thesis in the Gilbertson lab, looking at the reduction of nitrogen oxides, which are severe environmental pollutants. Doug wrote an invited manuscript that was published earlier this year (2020) as a perspective to Dalton Transactions. While working on his project he discovered some novel reduction methods for nitrogen oxides that will be submitted soon for publication in a high impact journal. As a teaching assistant, he was consistently one of the most dependable and patient TAs the department has had during his tenure. He helped develop numerous new laboratory modules in the Physical/Inorganic lab courses and he was also a highly-regarded TA in the Instrumental Methods lab. He did all of this while starting a new family and commuting to work from Skagit every day. He will be entering the Ph.D. program in Chemistry at the University of Washington next Fall.
Master of Science, Environmental Science
Integrating Synthetic Biology Derived Variables into Ecological Risk Assessment Using the Bayesian Network – Relative Risk Model: Gene Drives to Control Nonindigenous M. musculus on Southeast Farallon Island
Ethan Brown managed to prepare his thesis proposal, take the required graduate level classes, serve as a TA, now serves as an RA on one of our projects, has presented his research at the appropriate meetings, and will be attending a Ph.D. program at the University of Notre Dame. His thesis research is an outgrowth of work looking toward the assessment of the use of synthetic biology in manipulating the environment. The model that he uses is a hypothetical CRISPR introduced sterility gene drive introduced to mice introduced to the Farallon Islands. Using the MGDrive population model, the use of exposure-response models to describe toxicity, and the application of the Bayesian network relative risk model (BN-RRM) he was able to show the trade-offs in using the gene drive mouse and the application of the rodenticide in 12 different scenarios. Contrary to much of the noisy debate regarding the use of synthetic biology in such management scenarios, the use of gene drive modified organisms will not be a panacea or a plague, but needs to be considered case by case.
Master of Science, Computer Science
Alex Covington was a two time nominee for WWU student employee of the year; worked in IT and software development; and gained both high school and college teaching experience. His masters research involves designing a new programming language and implementing a compiler for it. He has been hired by Advanced Micro Devices working in their compiler code optimization group, and will start work there after graduation.
Master of Education, Language and Literacy
Kait has been a strong collaborator and contributing member of her graduate cohort. She embraces inquiry as a stance, learning with and from others as well as offering support. She has been an enthusiastic and thoughtful class member, who is conscientious about her work and goes beyond class requirements. Throughout her program of study, she has developed an extensive knowledge of children’s and adolescent literature, both of the books themselves and of the ways in which these books can be used to support critical thinking about cultural and social issues. Outside of her graduate studies, Kait serves as a reflective educator who pushes herself to continue her professional learning. She puts a great deal of thought and effort into her teaching and is constantly inquiring into ways to make her teaching more effective. Our department recognizes Kait for her strong contributions to our program as well as her visceral dedication to the students she serves.
Master of Science, Geology
Cody Duckworth was selected based on the strength and breadth of his scholarship during his two years at Western, during which time he conducted months of fieldwork researching active faults on the Olympic Peninsula. His skills as a field researcher are complemented by his strength in quantitative modeling, resulting in submission of first-author and co-author publications from his thesis work, as well as receiving the 2018 Parke D. Snavely Jr. Cascadia Research Award from the Geological Society of America. Cody was extremely hard-working, but generous in giving his time to help other students. He was also infamous around the department for cooking really delicious fried chicken.
Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing
Dulani has poems forthcoming in the journal Waxwing; he serves as assistant managing editor for the Bellingham Review; and he has participated in multiple prestigious conferences as a poet and activist. Dulani has also been active as a Kundiman fellow and an outstanding teacher.
Master of Education, Environmental Education Residency
Matthew is a dedicated, thoughtful, and resourceful educator. His work as a TA with environmental interpretation class and commitment to social justice stood out. For his final project, he returned to his roots as an actor by writing a play that deals with eco-grief and hope. Matt’s work is humble and powerful and comes with deep consideration of the people and other-than-people that make up his communities.
Master of Arts, Environmental Studies
Riley Hine is a knowledgeable and approachable TA for undergraduates; she is a good friend and support for other graduate students; and she engaged in important departmental discussions related to diversity, equity and inclusion, including being a facilitator for the Environmental Justice minor reading seminar. In addition to that, she successfully defended a well-written and researched thesis supported by a robust mixed-methods study that examined hikers' experiences of water resources on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Her findings have identified water management recommendations for the use and protection of water resources on the PCT that are valuable to trail managers and hikers alike.
April Jane M. Hoag
Master in Teaching
April Hoag’s Everett MIT cohort is full of star students, but April’s dedication to and excellence in teaching are the reasons for her nomination. Through three practicum experiences and student teaching in public high schools, she has shown competence in teaching and assessment that make her look like a seasoned professional. She differentiated instruction and assessment for students with severe physical disabilities, severe writing difficulties, and for other variations in background and ability with compassion and creativity, allowing all students be actively engaged and reach course goals. Her classroom management seemed effortless, student-centered, and highly effective, far beyond what is expected from someone with many more years of experience. As she completes her final MIT requirements this spring, she is teaching a WWU Theatre Arts class, switching gears on short notice to re-create it on-line.
Master of Arts, English
Jo has served as the student representative on the Graduate Studies committee this year, where she provided wise and invaluable insights on a range of issues. She's also started working to change the world beyond the university in her work with Jeremy Cushman at the Whatcom County Health Department. Jo will be heading to Austin to start doctoral work in rhetoric in the fall.
Master of Education, School Counseling
Rachael Jacobus is a school counselor who grounds her work with children and families in compassion and optimism. She brought wisdom and resourcefulness to our program from her many years of teaching middle school science but always practiced a “beginner’s mind”—open to new ideas and grateful for the opportunity to learn from others. Rachael excelled in her internship this past year at Blaine Primary School where she became a trusted member of the school support team. She has proven that she is the type of collaborative school counselor who is going to make an enormous difference in the lives of the young people she works with in the future. We all feel lucky that she chose WWU for her graduate training in counseling and wish her the best!
Master of Arts, Rehabilitation Counseling
Kyle Jones had years of experience working with individuals with intellectual disabilities prior to joining the rehabilitation counseling program. While he was in the program, Kyle consistently demonstrated energy and enthusiasm for the material and was always willing to participate in course discussions – usually with a sense of humor. He displays a genuine commitment to partnering with individuals with disabilities to enhance their lives. Kyle is currently employed as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with the WA Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. He has continued to demonstrate tremendous proficiency when working and advocating with the people he serves and is making a big difference in their lives.
Master of Arts, History
Over the past two years in the MA program, Emily Lampert has put forth the effort and dedicated the time necessary to become one of the most industrious and creative students in our program's history. She has distinguished herself as a smart and model student. I am continually impressed with Emily’s maturity, wherewithal, and willingness to dive headlong into the research.
Master of Science, Experimental Psychology
Kendall Lawley completed her MS in Experimental Psychology in Fall 2019. Her thesis identified tragic gaps in the research on LGBTQ identity and physical and behavioral health. Kendall was especially praised for her scholarly productivity, methodological innovation, and strong writing skills.
Master of Science, Biology - Marine and Estuarine Science
Jake Lawlor, of Austin, TX, first started researching impacts of ocean acidification on baby oysters as an undergrad intern at WWU’s Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC). He built on that work for his master’s research aimed at understanding climate impacts on oyster connectivity in the Salish Sea. For his project, Jake developed a novel experimental approach, conducted research in Hong Kong, honed his expertise in statistical modeling and R computer programing, and presented his work at an international conference. Jake’s thesis produced one scientific paper (under review for publication), with another in preparation. Jake was on the Graduate Student Advisory Committee and several faculty search committees, worked as a science journalist for Washington Sea Grant, and managed SPMC’s social media. Jake’s communication skills impressed Washington State Governor Jay Inslee so much during a tour of SPMC that the Governor awarded Jake with a certificate recognizing him as “The Most Inspirational Washingtonian of the Day.” In January, Jake began a PhD program at McGill University, where he will use the foundation built during his MS to examine the impacts of life histories of marine invertebrates on climate-induced biogeographic range shifts.
Master of Science, Kinesiology - Sport and Exercise Psychology
Sam is extremely thoughtful about concepts, analyzing more deeply than typical students. She excelled as a teaching assistant. Sam had duties not only in her primary area but also with the introductory course to the major. She was always readily available to students outside of class. Sam has recently started her doctoral studies in Positive Organizational Psychology and is a member of the Positive Sport and Performance Psychology Lab leadership team at Claremont Graduate University.
Master of Arts, Anthropology
As underrepresented minority (URM) scholar and parent, Ms. Cecilia Martin exemplifies the generation of scholars that seek to examine research with and for diverse communities. Ms. Martin’s research examined limited water access in the daily lives of members of the Teso tribe (Iteso) living in Amukura, a small rural village located in Busia County in western Kenya. Her participatory action research was critical of international NGO practices and worked in partnership with members of the village to create local solutions to water access.
Master of Education, Environmental Education
Sarah brought new energy into Environmental Studies and Environmental Education world - and many students and faculty benefitted from her intellect, curiosity, and humility. During her two years with us, she presented at multiple conferences on the subject of Critical Animal Studies and post-secondary education. She also taught a pilot course on Critical Animal Studies at the college, and developed curriculum for furthering the subject in middle schools.
Master of Professional Accounting
Haley Sandberg is intelligent, hard-working, and motivated. Throughout the completion of the program, she demonstrated great perseverance and initiative. She was not only motivated to learn the material, but put a great deal of work into developing her own ideas and perspectives. Last but not least, Haley has a very pleasant personality and is well-liked by her professors and peers alike. Based on Haley’s outstanding record of academic excellence and dedication to the field of accounting, the faculty in the accounting department is very pleased to choose her as the Outstanding Graduate Student for the 2020-21 academic year.
Master of Education, Environmental Education Residency
Christine’s fastidious planning, ability to curriculum build, and ambition are legendary. All these came true with her work with Cascades Montessori Middle School in Bellingham, a work study and research project she engaged in through teaching a Climate Action class there. She developed curriculum, delivered it, and then created a nuanced and powerful project that explored the limitations, value, and positive outcomes of the work.
Emma Rigby Santana
Master of Science, Environmental Science - Marine and Estuarine Science
Springtime benthic fluxes in the Salish Sea: Environmental parameters driving spatial variation in the exchange of dissolved oxygen, inorganic carbon, nutrients, and alkalinity between the sediments and overlying water
Emma Rigby's research on the biogeochemistry of Puget Sound sediments filled a huge gap in understanding how bottom sediments affect water quality in the Salish Sea. It was well known that several areas in Puget Sound experience low levels of dissolved oxygen, corrosive bottom water, and changing levels of nutrients. But before Emma's research the importance of bottom sediments on water quality was not well known. Emma's thesis work changed that. In two years she collected a PhD-sized dataset on sediment geochemistry from 42 stations throughout Puget Sound. She spent two months on small vessels conducting experiments to measure chemical exchange between the sediment and overlying water. She spent four months carefully analyzing samples from these experiments for dissolved oxygen, nutrients, pH, and other solutes. And, she discovered that sediment biogeochemistry does in fact significantly affect water quality in many parts of Puget Sound. Her findings will be used by the Washington State Department of Ecology to better manage Puget Sound resources. Emma’s research is currently in review for publication. Since graduating from Western she has been working as a scientist for Gravity Marine Consulting in Everett, WA.
Master of Science, Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Brooke is a counselor who is steadfast in her authenticity and compassion and has a strong vision to effect change in the world of social justice. She has developed a clinical practice in line with her personal and professional values and has had great success honoring the stories, experiences and histories of her clients--as well as her own. Brooke is a creatively critical thinker who challenges her clients and her colleagues to think beyond what they think they already know or what they think is possible in order to discover new narratives and possibilities. And she is a great listener~ one with presence and kind attention who identifies the honor within making space for others and the healing that can be found there.
Master of Arts, Environmental Studies
Kay Sullivan developed a case study that expands our understanding of two important social science constructs: socio-economic wealth and civic agriculture—revealing, in effect, new facets of the constructs. Her leadership skills include ability to listen, being goal-oriented and solution focused, excellent organizational capabilities, productive collaboration abilities (including in challenging situations), ability to empathize with others. Where Kay excels is in her communication skills. Her hands-on skills and authentic enthusiasm are the perfect combination for an optimal learning and service experience. Kay was a superb TA for two years in both Environmental Studies and Environmental Sciences, and was an invaluable “second adult” in the global learning programs. Her social media and online delivery of material/skills are excellent. She wants to use the teaching skills she has learned, and practiced, as a TA for a full-time position. She shows particular creativity, potential for success, and leadership potential. Her maturity and independence is substantial, her motivation and diligence, noteworthy.
Master of Science, Chemistry - Biochemistry
Chris Swanson joined the Spiegel lab as a recent WWU BS Chemistry graduate. Joining a biochemistry research lab without prior biochemical experience was associated with a fairly steep learning curve that Chris embraced enthusiastically. His project examined how a novel antibiotic, argyrin B, inhibits the process of bacterial translation. Chris delved deep into various assays to uncover new ways in which we think the antibiotic works, and his thesis defense not only highlighted his efforts, it also shifted the previously understood inhibition paradigm. As a department citizen, Chris was an inclusive, enthusiastic and highly engaged student and peer mentor. He was always welcoming to new colleagues, both in our own lab as well as neighboring labs, and was patient and thoughtful with training new students. Due to his insatiable curiosity, he learned many of the nuances of macromolecular crystallography, mammalian tissue culture and ancestral reconstruction computational techniques to complement his other biochemistry training.
Master of Science, Experimental Psychology
Rachael Waldrop earned her MS in Fall 2019. Her thesis investigated one of the most important topics plaguing our nation today. She was praised by faculty for her analytic skill and insightful contributions to class discussions.
Master of Education, Language and Literacy
Jessica Wallace is not only an outstanding Kindergarten teacher, she is also a dedicated scholar and a cheerleader for her colleagues. Although Jessica is still at the beginning of her career in education, she is already becoming a leader.
Master of Business Administration
The MBA program is pleased to honor Kang Wu as this year’s outstanding graduate. Kang sacrificed a great deal to undertake and complete his graduate studies in the US at WWU, and was an excellent student and colleague with his classmates.