Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program

Since 2010 Richard Barber has generously funded our research program that has brought together researchers from across WSU for transformative research and educational experiences.

Our program fosters collaboration between faculty and students from the College of Engineering, the School of Medicine, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This year includes a focus on student mentorship and expands the undergraduate schedule to a full-time work load. We aim to have this research experience be a meaningful experience for helping the students develop scientific approaches to problem solving and fostering their high-tech careers.

Applications are now being accepted for the Fall 2019 Barber Undergraduate Research Awards.

Application details are available for download here.

Applications are due Wednesday, August 28.

Tune in to this website for updates. Awards will be announced by September 7.


  • To what extent are matching funds required? Matching funds are not strictly required for any part of any proposal, but we likely will not provide any travel funds without significant matching funds. And it's always nice see projects have the support of other funding sources.
  • How should proposals be structured for collaborative projects? Please submit one proposal per undergraduate student. If the student will be co-advised, that is great, and please be explicit in the proposal. If the funding of one proposal depends on the funding of a second proposal for a second undergraduate student, please indicate so clearly.
  • What is the expected budget of each proposal? We are hoping to average ~$2200 per funded project while the maximum requested is $3500 per proposal.
  • May one faculty member sponsor multiple undergraduate students and submit multiple proposals? Yes. Please submit one proposal per undergraduate student and be explicit of two proposals are co-dependent.
  • How will the final funding decisions be made? Peer-review of the proposals will be provided by faculty members throughout WSU. Reviewers will be asked to quantify which proposals are most meritorious and best fulfill the mission of the Barber Program and UROP. Compliance and tie-breaking decisions will be made by the directors of the Barber Program (Kelly) and UROP (Orr).
  • Is there a limit on the number of hours per week an undergraduate student can work? If your project, your undergraduate student's schedule, and the employment limitations on full-time students in your department warrant the undergraduate student working many hours per week, I encourage you to propose it and see if you can convince the reviewers.

For the Summer of 2019, we have selected seven projects to fund that include collaborations between the departments of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering & Materials Sciences, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Geology, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences, Pathology, Pediatrics, Pharmacology, and Physics & Astronomy.

Funded projects include:

  • Identification of Neurological and Physiological Conditions in Neonates Using Electroencephalogram Data

Suzan Arslanturk, Computer Science & Ratna Babu Chinnam, Industrial and Systems Engineering & Sidhartha Tan, Pediatrics

  • Insect Galls as Bioindicators to Detect Carcinogens and their Movement in the Environment

Glen Hood, Biological Sciences & Shirley Papuga, Geology

  • Development and Validation of a Novel MRI Method to Quantify Oxidative Stress after Traumatic Brain Injury

Alana Conti, Neurosurgery & Bruce Berkowitz, Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences

  • Impact of changes in drinking water quality on gut microbiome

Shawn McElmurry, Civil and Environmental Engineering & Tracie Baker , Pharmacology & Nancy Love, Civil and Environmental Engineering; U. of Michigan

  • How crystals form on top of a sphere

Ashis Mukhopadhyay, Physics & Astronomy & Yingxi Elaine Zhu, Chemical Engineering & Materials Sciences

  • New nano-mechanical approaches in cancer biology

Peter M. Hoffmann, Physics and Astronomy & Rafael Fridman, Pathology & Harini Sundararaghavan, Biomedical Engineering

  • Understanding Polycrystalline Materials Growth as Enabled by Novel Computational Algorithms

Loren Schwiebert, Computer Science & Zhi-Feng Huang, Physics and Astronomy

Program History

Over the past eight years, the Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program has provided opportunities for students to participate in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research while building collaborations between diverse academic departments. Over 111 WSU students and 14 different academic departments have participated. Many of the collaborations initiated via this program have continued to prosper, and many of the students have launched successful scientific careers. We are very proud of our past successes and are excited about our future improvements to the program.

This year we aim to increase the diversity in research projects, including theoretical and experimental research in the basic and applied sciences. The program includes full-time undergraduate support, encouragement of scientific outreach, and increased continuity in research support.

Program Structure

The primary activity of the Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program is our summer research projects. This year, we will support seven research projects that each include faculty mentors from different complimentary departments, undergraduate student researchers, and experienced graduate student or postdoctoral researchers. By bringing together researchers with diverse academic backgrounds and experience levels, we aim to provide an educational and productive research experience for all program participants. Faculty members from across WSU will develop their research mentorship team and propose research projects that exemplify the program goals. The winning projects will be selected by peer-review and by Mr. Barber. The winning project mentors will then select the undergraduate applicants that are likely to both contribute the research and benefit from the opportunity for full-time research experience over the summer.

With approximately 6 researchers per project, our summer program will bring together over 40 faculty members and students from across WSU. We will host program-wide meetings at the beginning and end of the summer to meet each other and share our research results. Additionally, there will be undergraduate-only meetings biweekly to foster community and provide peer support. The most important meetings, however, may be the weekly project-specific meetings in which the undergraduate students will be able to see the interactions between their mentors, practice presenting their research results, and help develop the evolving research plan during the summer. Undergraduate researcher will submit an end-of-the-summer research report and present their results at a program-wide research fair to celebrate their accomplishments.

Budgetary Considerations: Incentives, Supplements, and Extensions

Stipends for the students and faculty will be partially tied to their completion of the program. Students will receive their final stipend payment upon submission of their final report and presentation of their research at a research fair. Faculty members will receive their stipends upon submission of their final report.

Successful summer projects may be eligible for funding extension during the academic year. The demonstration of success from the summer research and a plan for future success are expected. We hope to additionally provide funding to support travel to scientific conferences, external seminar speakers of interest to multiple research groups, publication fees, or other research expenses. The budget available to such supplements is still under discussion with WSU and Mr. Barber.