More than 50 Western Washington University students and graduates received Outstanding Graduate honors for the 2018-19 academic year.
Faculty members from dozens of academic departments and programs select one graduate to honor as the Outstanding Graduate of the year. Selection is a high honor based on grades, research and writing, service to the campus and community, and promise for the future.
The graduates were recognized at spring Commencement June 15. The 11 Outstanding Graduates from the College of Science and Engineering are:
Outstanding Graduate in Manufacturing Engineering
Georgia Donaldson of Whitefish, Montana, graduated cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Science and majored in manufacturing engineering with a minor in mathematics. She was a member of the Society of Women Engineers and president of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). During her presidency the club received first place for the 2018 SME Digital Manufacturing Challenge. She also was a full time engineering assistant for Assistant Professor David Gill, partnering with Zodiac Aerospace to research tool life expectancy and cost reduction in machining aerospace honeycomb crush cores. Donaldson interned for John Deere as a manufacturing intern during summer quarter 2018 at their engine works plant in Waterloo, Iowa. After graduation, she will work as a manufacturing engineer in propulsion for Boeing in Seattle. Donaldson is a graduate of Whitefish High School and is daughter to Mark and Lynnette Donaldson.
Lena Rose Gibbs
Outstanding Graduate in Geology
Lena Rose Gibbs of Lakewood, Colorado, graduated in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She majored in geophysics and minored in astronomy and math. During the summer of 2018, Gibbs accompanied Professor of Geology Jackie Caplan-Auerbach on a volcano research voyage off the coast of the island of Hawaii, where she and the rest of the team deployed 12 Ocean Bottom Seismometers, monitored recent activity from the Kilauea volcano eruption, and performed a mapping of the seafloor. Gibbs also served as an undergraduate research assistant for Assistant Professor of Planetary Science Melissa Rice, studying weathered Columbia River basalt rock samples that were analogs to rocks on Mars. Through that work, Gibbs was able to attend the Mars 2020 Rover Landing Workshop in Pasadena, California, and the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference in Houston. Outside of class, Gibbs organizes the Meagan Smith Memorial Hat Tournament, an ultimate Frisbee event in memory of a dear friend and fellow WWU student who died unexpectedly in 2015. The tournament now raises about $6,000 a year for Bellingham and WWU ultimate teams and a WWU scholarship. Gibbs is a graduate of Lakewood High School and the daughter of John and Susan Gibbs. She recently became an engineering technician with Surveying and Mapping (SAM) LLC.
Outstanding Graduate of Plastics and Composites Engineering
Levi Hamernik of Boulder, Colorado, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Science degree and majored in plastics and composites engineering. Hamernik contributed to a variety of research projects ranging from characterization and recycling of collected ocean plastics, to synthesizing materials for aerospace composite applications. He presented research at two conferences and both times won second-place awards for technical merit even while competing against graduate students. He also served as an officer in WWU's chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering and worked with younger students to provide guidance in their research. Next, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in polymer science and engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi. Hamernik graduated from Fairview High School and is the son of Jubal Hamernik and Michelle Erks.
Outstanding Graduate in Physics
Mackenzie Jewell of Kirkland graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Science. Jewell majored in physics with minors in mathematics and Spanish. During her time at Western, Jewell spent over 2 1/2 years at working alongside Professor Janelle Leger performing condensed matter research. For her theoretical research, Jewell presented posters at Scholars Week and the American Physical Society Northwest Section Conference — winning Outstanding Poster awards at both. Jewell was a vice president of Physicists for Inclusion in Science, volunteering with GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math & Science). She also co-founded and was co-president of Materials Science Club at Western, which provided a space for those interested in materials science, an avenue for funding student-led research and the opportunity to 3-D print and assemble prosthetics for those in need of upper limb assistive devices. After graduation, Jewell will enroll at Oregon State University to study ice dynamics and attend graduate school at OSU's Physics of Oceans and Atmospheres Program. Jewell is a graduate of Juanita High School and daughter to Diane Jewell and Jim Overton.
Outstanding Graduate of Biology
Tiara Johnson of Kennewick graduated magna cum laude in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree, majored in cellular and molecular biology and minored in statistics. Johnson engaged in a research project in Assistant Professor Dan Pollard's lab studying the influences of genetic and environmental factors on the kinetics of cell differentiation. She presented the results at Scholars Week, at a regional conference and at UBC's Yeast Club. She's continuing with statistical analysis of that data and hopes to develop the project into a paper for publication. Johnson also served as a teaching assistant in biology and was involved with the biology education research of assistant professors Lee and Dahlberg. Outside the classroom, Johnson was deeply involved in the community. She worked as a math and science tutor for Student Outreach Services, was a worship leader for Campus Christian Fellowship, and volunteered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary helping with equine therapy. She served as a mentor for Puget Sound Youth Symphony and a barn superintendent for Washington State 4-H equine shows. Next, Johnson will continue to work on her analysis of data from her research in the Pollard lab, then train to become a campus missionary for Campus Christian Fellowship and return to Western as a CCF missionary. Then she'd like to train as a medical lab scientist. Johnson is a graduate of Kamiakin High School and Columbia Basin College.
Outstanding Graduate in Chemistry
Holly Jones of Bellingham graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in chemistry and minoring in mathematics. Jones is part of the research group of Professor Gregory O'Neil, studying a family of anticancer natural products known as archazolids. She'll present her research at the 46th American Chemical Society National Organic Symposium at the University of Indiana this summer. Jones was selected as the Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student for the 2016-17 year and was an organic chemistry laboratory teaching assistant in 2018-19. She's also a recipient of Ruth Watts Female Scientist Scholarship and the CSE Women in Science Scholarship. Outside the classroom, Jones volunteered at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center and was the vice president of the WWU Equestrian Team. Next, Jones plans to volunteer at health clinics serving First Nations communities in Manitoba, Canada, then join a public health volunteer program in the Philippines for a year. After that, she plans to apply to medical school to become a medical doctor. Jones, the daughter of Natalie Jones and Cristen Jones, is a graduate of Sehome High School.
Outstanding Graduate in Electrical Engineering
Arthur Marechal of Brussels, Belgium, graduated cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Science degree and a major in electrical engineering with an energy focus. Marechal was the co-founder and leader of Project Dyonisos, the first legacy project in the Electrical Engineering Department that will bring sustainable solar power to the Outback Farm on Western's campus. He secured funding for development from the Sustainability Equity and Justice Fund and the technology used in the project is currently being documented for publication at the IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting. Marechal also taught French in Western's Employee Language Program. After completing an internship at Pika Energy, a company that makes residential solar power systems in Maine, he will now work with Pika over the next three years before heading to graduate school for a master's degree in either power systems or agriculture. Then, he hopes to work in Africa or Asia developing local energy solutions that are free from fossil fuels in order to make sustainable farming more accessible in isolated regions.
Outstanding Graduate of Engineering — Industrial Design
Annelise Payne of Salt Lake City graduated in June with a Bachelor of Science and majored in industrial design with a minor in art history. At Western, Payne completed her senior thesis researching and creating a composite material from seaweed that had been collected nearby. Using bull kelp, she designed a collection of home goods products aimed to ignite a conversation on the origin and impact of the materials used in people's homes and lives. Her work sheds light on the environmental impact humans have on the world and proposes alternative materials, methods and design solutions that can help redefine people's impact on the planet. During her sophomore year, Payne also won first place in the 2017 Mount Baker Plywood Furniture Design Competition. Payne was a member of the Industrial Design Society and was selected as a 2018 Junior Student Merit finalist and a Senior Student Merit nominee in 2019. After graduation, Payne will work as an industrial design intern for Ecovative in New York state, researching the uses and applications of natural material made from mycelium, a type of mushroom spores. Payne is a graduate of West High School and daughter of Derek and Kim Payne.
Outstanding Graduate of Industrial Technology - Vehicle Design
Logan Slack of Puyallup graduated in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree and majored in industrial technology - vehicle design. Slack spent long hours building cars in Western's Vehicle Research Institute and helped reinvigorate Western's Formula SAE team, bringing the team back to competition for the first time in several years. During his senior year, as powertrain team leader, the team placed 10th out of 80 teams in competition. Slack also served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve while attending Western, keeping up with his studies and Formula SAE team commitments while fulfilling his training obligations. Today, Slack is a propulsion engineer with the Blue Origin space launch vehicle company, designing engine parts for the next-generation BE-4 engine. Slack, a graduate of Puyallup High School who also attended Pierce College, is the son of Robert and Jennie Slack.
Outstanding Graduate in Mathematics
Carolyn Stratford of Bellingham graduated magna cum laude in March with a Bachelor of Science. During her time at Western, her proudest achievement is her participation in the COMAP Mathematical Contest in Modeling: Stratford and two other students were given three days to solve a problem and write a 20-page report, and her group chose to model a drone response system for hurricane relief efforts. Stratford was responsible for designing and programming the algorithm to schedule daily drone routes and medical supply deliveries. Her group was one of 17 Outstanding Winners chosen from 14,108 other teams from 17 countries and given an award from the Mathematical Association of America. Stratford was on Western's Honor Roll each quarter from 2016 to 2018 and received two scholarships from Western, including, the Mathematics Memorial Scholarship, and Associated Students Academic Scholar Award. She also tutored other students as a Math Fellow and played violin in the WWU Symphony Orchestra. After graduating, Stratford accepted a position with Raytheon as a signals processing engineer. She is a graduate of Bellingham Technical College and is daughter to James and Suzanne Stratford.
Outstanding Graduate in Computer Science
Yichuan Yin of Nanjing, China, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Science. Yin says he is most proud of getting though the computer science major in 2 1/2 years with no prior experience, becoming a TA and receiving honors from the CS program. Outside of his studies, Yin has flown airplanes and helicopters out of Bellingham International Airport, learned sailing from the Community Boating Center in Fairhaven and had photography featured on local TV as part of the Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition. Yin also conducted research under Associate Professor Brain Hutchinson, using machine learning techniques to generate synthetic stellar spectra or flux levels at different wavelengths for stars. After graduation, Yin will attend Oregon State University to earn a doctorate in computer science. He is a graduate of Oberlin High School in Oberlin, Ohio and a graduate of Whatcom Community College. He is son to 尹武 (Wu Yin) and 陆世琴 (Shiqin Lu).