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Association for Faculty Women 2014-2015 Recipients: Graduate Student Awards

2014-2015 AFW Awards for Outstanding Women in Graduate Studies

The Association for Faculty Women announces its 2014-2015 award winners for outstanding women in graduate studies. These awards recognize superlative academic and scholarly accomplishments, as well as professional potential of women graduate students at WSU completing their degrees in the 2014-2015 academic year (graduation dates: December 2014, May 2015, August 2014).

  • The AFW Harriett B. Rigas Award is presented to a doctoral student.
  • The AFW Founders Award is presented to a master’s level student.

AFW Founders Award 2014-2015

Aubrie Schlegel is a master’s student in the Community Counseling program in the College of Education. She has been a strong advocate for women’s rights throughout her career at WSU with a particular focus on survivors of trauma, assault, and human trafficking. Her thesis focused on changing attitudes, knowledge and skills related to fighting against human trafficking through the use of an exceptional educational video, which took a full year to create. Her advisor and nominator, Laurie McCubbin, notes that a thesis is not required in her program, with fewer than 5% of students electing to do one. Her outreach and teaching also focus on recovery from trauma and violence. Dr. McCubbin says, “She has been truly an inspriation to me as a professsor and has taught me to be a better mentor, teacher, and advocate. She also inspires those around her in her calm, accepting and gentle manner to consider ways each one of us can make a difference. She embodies the best of what WSU has to offer.” Aubrie hopes to continue her work in human trafficking prevention through education to health care providers, law enforcement officials, and teaching professsionals, as well as providing direct service in mental health care to survivors of trauma.

Jennifer Kiser is a master’s student in Animal Science in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. Her research involves identifying the genomic regions associated with susceptibility to a fatal incurable disease in cattle that is found in over 60% of large dairy herds, and her contribution has opened the door to eradicating the disease through breeding for disease-resistant animals. She is a productive scholar, an excellent and engaging teaching assistant, and a leader in her lab. Her advisor and nominator, Holly Neibers, writes: ” About a year into Ms. Kiser’s research project our laboratory manager had to leave WSU for health reasons. This was a terrible situation because we were about to obtain several thousand tissue samples that needed to be coded into the database and processed. Jennifer’s ability to quietly and calmly step up and take charge filled a large void and brought stability to the lab… Jennifer stands out as the most outstanding graduate student that I have had the honor to mentor.” After graduating, Jennifer will stay on as the full-time lab manager for Dr. Neibergs and continue with the research she has started.

AFW Harriett B. Rigas Award 2014-2015

Anya Rasmussen is a doctoral candidate in Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her research on the response of a semiconductor to extreme conditions of pressure required intricate experiments at two national synchtron facilities. She discovered that the material undergoes a phase transition at a world-record low pressure and that it displays unusual properties at high pressures. She was awarded a prestigious Advanced Light Source Doctoral Fellowship and is performing independent research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory this year — the first time a WSU student has been awarded this fellowship. Her nominator and advisor, Dr. Matthew McCluskey, describes her as an excellent communicator and dedicated, highly talented teacher who is especially committed to recruiting and mentoring women in physics. He notes that on her own initiative, she taughts a course in physics and mathematics at the Coyote Ridge Correction Center, with the ultimate “captive audience”. Anya’s goal is to become a phsycics professor at an undergraduate institution; she hoeps to be a role model for female students interested in physics.

Julia Harshman is a doctoral candidate in Horticulture in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. She is the first PhD student to graduate from WSU who has been fully based at the Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, taking courses through AMS without spending time on the main Pullman campus. Her research is in tree fruit breeding, and she has recently filed a patent for the first apple release from her undergraduate program in Maryland. She has been awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the National Institue of Food and Agriculture as well as several other scholarships.   Her advisor and nominator, Dr. Kate Evans, says that her drive and focus are rare and that she has “constantly impressed me and the inducctry with the quantity an dquality of the questions she asks and the ideas she has.” One of her letter writeres, Dr. Christopher Walsh from University of Maryland, says that “her work in plant breeding and genetics is likely to have a major impact on agricultural research and education in the future.”