Undergraduate News and Accomplishments

SURCA Awards

The WSU Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) is an annual event focusing on highlighting undergraduates and their scholarly or creative works outside of the classroom. An equivalent to a conference poster presentation, SURCA allows undergraduate students to disseminate their research within our WSU community. Additionally, each project is judged by a panel of expert faculty, and exceptional projects are recognized during an awards ceremony. This year, two of our undergraduate student researchers presenting at SURCA were recognized.

Crimson Award – This award is given to the highest ranking research projects in each SURCA category

Ashley Robillard (Zoom) and Karen Veloz.
Ashley Robillard (on Zoom screen) and Karen Veloz

Ashley Robillard (WSU Vancouver) and Karen Veloz
Biology, Criminal Justice and Criminology
Mentor: David Makin

“For our research, the question we were trying to answer was, ‘What is the level of readiness and preparedness related to DNA forensic evidence and how do we decide if the expansion of rapid DNA technology in Washington state is appropriate?’

“In this research, we found that in the absence of the Rapid DNA tool, officers find it most challenging to process evidence for DNA analysis because of the turnaround time. We were able to determine what crimes were more useful for DNA evidence and how frequently DNA was processed for that particular crime. Although the implementation of Rapid DNA technology is shown to be a good addition to law enforcement, our results show that officers are not ready. This research has brought our forensic passion into a new perspective that begins the conversation on how agencies can utilize new technology. We both feel grateful to have had this opportunity to work with Professor Makin and excited for what’s to come!”

Gray Award – This award is given to the second highest ranking research projects in each SURCA category

Giselle Jimenez.
Giselle Jimenez

Giselle Jimenez
Criminal Justice and Criminology, Psychology, Spanish
Mentor: Jennifer Duckworth

“Background: Latinx U.S. college enrollment is growing rapidly, but disparities exist. Latinx students report more barriers to attending college than other students and are less likely to attain a college degree, therefore tailored interventions are a priority. Further, in Latinx cultures, children are often expected to stay/live at home with their parents, therefore, moving away may be difficult for Latinx students. Given the efficacy of the ‘Letting Go and Staying Connected’ parent-handbook intervention—which aims to provide parents tools to better support their college student while away from home for the first time—adapting the handbook for Latinx students may be useful. The present study uses qualitative interview data to address the following research questions: 1) Which experiences of sending their child to college are most impactful to Latinx parents? 2) How did the videos help expand the handbook project in meaningful, culturally relevant ways, and 3) What areas could be improved upon?

“Method: A multiphase cultural adaptation following the ADAPT-ITT model is underway which includes adapting the handbook into six engaging videos for Spanish-speaking parents of new college students—two of which have already been filmed. Nine parents of Spanish-speaking college students took part in online interviews where they watched two video modules and provided feedback. We are employing an inductive, thematic analyses to analyze these data. 

“Results: Overarching themes identified in preliminary findings include distance is difficult and letting go is hard for Latinx parents of college students. Latinx parents try to encourage autonomy for their college students, but also find that cultural factors and shifting parent roles make it challenging to let go of their college students. However, learning about first-hand accounts from other Latinx families, clarifying expectations prior to students leaving for college, and ongoing communication with their college students may help ameliorate these challenges. 

“Conclusion: Having a roadmap for Latinx parents as they navigate their children going to college is useful. Parents found the cultural adaptation of this parenting handbook intervention was helpful to see that they are not losing their student but students are coming back home with a broader perspective of the world.”

Criminal Justice Study Abroad in London

Spring break 2023

University of Idaho student Esteban Ayllon (front row, second from left) and Washington State University student Neil Markert (front row, second from right) attempt to follow along on a marching drill with the Hammersmith and Fulham Police Youth Cadets on March 14th, 2024.
University of Idaho student Esteban Ayllon (front row, second from left) and WSU student Neil Markert (front row, second from right) attempt to follow along on a marching drill with the Hammersmith and Fulham Police Youth Cadets.

After a successful Summer 2022 program in The Netherlands, the WSU Criminal Justice Study Abroad was back to its pre-pandemic Spring Break schedule this spring. From March 11 through 19, thirteen WSU undergraduates, along with some University of Idaho (UI) students, traveled to London for the seventh iteration of our innovative short-term faculty-led program. During their seven days in London, Prof. Melanie-Angela Neuilly led students through visits to coroner’s, magistrates, and Crown courts, a Police Youth Cadet diversion program, a homicide and major investigation team from the London Metropolitan Police, and the high security Broadmoor mental health hospital, among other things. The program is a graded 3-credit, semester-long course during which students learn about the basics of comparative criminal justice, the British system, and larger political and historical landscapes, and prepare for the week spent in London alongside their counterparts at UI. The course culminates with a research paper investigating a topic of interest with regard to British criminal justice issues and how the experiential learning opportunity contributed to students’ understanding of the issue.