Nine faculty-student teams have been chosen to receive research grants through Whitman’s Abshire and Adam Dublin Awards program.  The areas of research extend to every area of campus, from “Environment and Geology of Southwestern Texas” to “Technological and Cultural ‘Progress’ in African American Newspapers, 1890–1925.” 

The awards represent the community of excellence and academic traditions that help define Whitman College. They allow students the opportunity for extensive research in their undergraduate years, under the guidance of the esteemed faculty of the college.   

Listed below are the recipients of the awards along with a short description of their research.

Abshire Awards for Spring 2011:

The Abshire Awards, given each semester, were established in 1981 by alumnus Alfred D. Abshire ’45 in memory of his wife, Sally Ann. The awards provide Whitman students opportunities to conduct and present research in collaboration with professors. Student Abshire scholars assist their professors for up to eight hours per week and may earn up to $800 for the semester.

Mehera Nori ’12, and Susanne Beechey, assistant professor of politics, plan to systematically analyze and catalogue YouTube videos pertaining to the It Gets Better Project and the Make It Better Project.  These two initiatives seek to empower LGBT youth and offer valuable insight into the impact of LGBT politics. 

Matthew Morriss ’13 has spent more than a year collaborating with Bob Carson, Grace Farnsworth Phillips Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies, on his new seminar course, “Environment and Geology of Southwestern Texas.”  Drawing on personal experience and familiarity with the region, Morriss will help guide a week-long fieldtrip from El Paso to Big Bend National Park.  Along the way the group will keep a road log incorporating the interdisciplinary themes of the trip.

Guided by Marion Götz, assistant professor of chemistry, Stephanie Steiner ’13 intends to investigate the relationship between the inhibition of the proteasome enzyme and intracellular protein degradation, with particular attention to its cancer-fighting potential.

Donald “Nat” Clarke ’11, who serves as a research assistant to Kate Jackson, assistant professor of biology, will contribute to the publication of Jackson’s forthcoming field guide on the snakes of Central and West Africa. He will develop a snake identification database to accompany the book, edit portions of the text and communicate with other collaborators. Professor Jackson hopes to have a full draft complete by the end of spring semester 2011.

Olivia Ware ’13 and Nina Lerman, associate professor of history will research “Technological and Cultural ‘Progress’ in African American Newspapers, 1890–1925.” As they research the implications of technological change, as interpreted by the African American press, they will have access to restrictive databases of historical merit for analysis and comparison to predominantly white portrayals of these themes.  The goal is to explore events such as America’s electrification in the late 19th century and the African American response, in their own and oft-overlooked words.

With the 2008 Washington State Farm Worker Survey as a guide, Ariel Ruiz ’11 and Gilbert Mireles, assistant professor of sociology, will analyze the implications of residential patterns on the life outcomes of farm workers in the state of Washington.  Through interviews and further surveys, their goal is to elucidate the geographical and social isolation that adversely affect workers residing in less urbanized labor camps.

Dieter Brandner ’13 will independently advance the work of Ginger Withers, Dr. Robert F. Welty Associate Professor of Biology, by analyzing how the molecular skeleton contributes to the growth and development of the architecture of neurons.  The data gathered will compose a manuscript to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Gabriella Friedman ’13 will participate as a research assistant in the publication of a third volume in the University of Washington Press’ “Global Re-Visions” series. Based on the 2011 Global Studies Symposium, titled “Global Media, Global Spectacles,” this Abshire Award will facilitate the research necessary to meet the volume’s May 2012 deadline.  Zahi Zalloua, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, and Bruce Magnusson, associate professor of politics serve as the faculty contributors to this project.

2010-2011 Adam Dublin Award

The Dublin Award was established by alumna and trustee Karen E. “Kari” Glover ’72 and her husband, Thaddas L. Alston, to support scholarly or creative work relating to multiculturalism in the United States or abroad.  The Award is named for the late Adam Dublin ’96, in memory of his positive spirit and his commitment to diversity while a student at Whitman.

Mara Chang-Northway ’11, along with Susanne Beechey, assistant professor of politics, are part of a team of researchers set to investigate the multicultural impact of the It Gets Better and Make It Better Projects in the U.S. LGBT community. The project will provide a comprehensive analysis of queer identity and politics in the United States with the aforementioned campaigns as reference.