The Association for Faculty Women’s Outstanding Graduate Student Awards recognize exceptional performance in academics, teaching, and mentoring, and outreach or service, as well as leadership qualities and professional potential.

AFW Founders Award 2016-2017

Jordan Engelke

Department of English
Thesis: Intersectional Approaches to Digital Technology

Jordan is a McNair scholar graduating this Spring with an MA in English and a Certificate in Digital Humanities and Culture. She has presented her research nationally at, for example, Berkeley, Arizona State and Las Vegas. She is President of the English Graduate Organization, and is a leader in WSU’s Graduate Pride Alliance. Jordan has a long history of social activism, noted by her nominator as “the champion of social justice”. Her activism at WSU has been recognized with the Master’s Student Service Award. She has lead SafeZone Ally Training, and created a resource pool for first-time teachers in response to her own experiences. She became the first Graduate Assistant for the Critical Literacies Achievement and Success Program that serves under-represented students in the Department of English. She also skates for a local roller derby team.

The Harriett B. Rigas Award 2016-2017

Nicole Kelp

Molecular Biosciences
Dissertation: Non-classical hormone receptors in female reproductive physiology and pathology

Nicole began her studies in the School of Molecular Biosciences having been recognized as a high achieving undergraduate and admitted into the STARS program (Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies). This is a program for accelerated advancement in molecular biosciences, an aim that Nicole is clearly demonstrating. The focus of her graduate research is on women’s health with results that have implications for treating women’s diseases such as endometriosis and uterine cancer. Her nominator notes, “Nicole’s research projects are extensive and the effort she has made to this point, both intellectually and in terms of independently completing the experiments, are exceptional.” Indeed, it is her work ethic, curiosity, and intellectual capacity that earned her a 3-year NSF fellowship, among several other awards, and which contribute to an impressive publication record at this stage in her academic career. Nicole’s passion for science is evident in volunteerism with a science outreach program for high school students, in her mentoring of undergraduate students in Molecular Biosciences, in mentoring WSU Honors College students as they prepare their honors presentations, and in serving as a New Graduate Student Prestigious Fellowship Workshops panelist and proposal editor. Her outreach and interests are far from unidimensional. In addition to her accomplishments in research, Nicole has participated in humanitarian work in central China and in Afghanistan with refugee women.

Davi Kallman

College of Communication
Dissertation: Life Without Boundaries: A Positive Deviance Inquiry of Communication Behaviors that Influence Academic Success of Learning-Disabled University Students

Davi has a strong history of working to create awareness of stereotypes and prejudices about persons with disabilities. As an individual who has dyslexia, she well knows the social and physical barriers that face students with disabilities, and it is this experience that has motivated her to address the needs of marginalized populations. Davi, who has served in several leadership positions at WSU and professional organizations, has been recognized for her service, teaching and engagement. Among her awards are the WSU President Leadership award, GPSA Student Instructor of the Year Award, Myiah Hutchens Community Engagement Award, Prabu David Leadership Award, and Carson B Warner Award for excellence in poster design. In addition, Davi was a leader in establishing the Wiley Research Exposition at WSU. She has provided instrumental assistance in the establishment and implementation of the WSU Graduate School Professional Development Initiative (PDI), which provides graduate students opportunities for professional development and career enhancement. Davi created a website, coordinated 14 events with over 700 participants, and has created a system whereby the PDI is sustainable after she graduates. Beyond her service and leadership, Davi has maintained an active research program which uses media-based interventions to reduce stigma and prejudice against those with disabilities.

Karen DePauw Leadership Award 2016-2017

Kari Ann Gaither

Pharmaceutical Sciences
Dissertation: Mechanisms of Action and Regulation of ATF5 in Cancer and Cellular Stress

Kari’s research focuses on cancer that affects women’s health. Her work has potential to find specific molecular targets for breast cancer, and will inform potential cancer therapies. She has a passion for research that, in her words, “stems from a desire to positively impact lives through scientific discovery”. She is the recipient of a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for a student in the STEM disciplines, an honor that is given, in part, for scientific outreach. Kari’s outreach crosses her research community, the WSU community, and communities throughout Washington State. At WSU she was a volunteer presenter for a session on how to apply for the NSF fellowships; she is one of two students who organized and established an Association for Women in Science (AWIS) chapter in 2014. This feat required securing financial support from several Deans at WSU. She is currently the graduate representative to the WSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women. In addition, she is an active supporter of opportunities that encourage youth to participate in STEM experiences. To this end she has engaged with K-12 youth around STEM, mentored low income high school students, and has been a judge at high school STEM competitions. Kari’s accomplishments are especially impressive because she is a first-generation college student. She has successfully navigated the challenges and expectations of higher education, excelled in her work and leadership roles, and continues to give back to the community through her mentorship and the enthusiasm for STEM, which she shares with youth and others.