Students & Faculty: Academic Pursuits

Student Scholar Days

The ninth annual Adams State University Student Scholar Days, held on campus April 7-8, featured oral presentations and posters by undergraduate students on topics within their academic major. Read more.


Adams State’s chapter of the Tri-Beta National Biological Honor Society hosted the 2016 Western-1 Regional Undergraduate Research Conference on campus, April 15-16. First place award winners receive a $750 travel stipend to attend and compete at the National Tri-Beta conference, to be held at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota,  June 1-5. The following ASU students presented their research:

  • Christian Nenninger (Faculty Mentors: Adam Kleinschmit and Chris Adams) – Won the Brooks Award (1st place) for best cellular/molecular oral presentation: “Reduction of Acetaldehyde Levels in Lager Beers using CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing/.”
  • Alex Mullins and John Whitinger (Faculty Mentor: Matt Steffenson) – Won the Johnson Award (1st place) for best overall poster presentation for “Morphological Factors and Their Effect on Antipredator Behavior in Two Species of Wolf Spiders.”
  • Ryan Miller (Faculty Mentor: Adam Kleinschmit) – Won 2nd place in overall poster presentation for “Bioinformatic Analysis of Microbial Abundance and Diversity in Acid Mine Drainage from the Solomon Mine in Creede, Colorado.”
  • Garret Visser and Russell Geminden (Faculty Mentor: Matt Steffenson) – poster presentation: “Potential Factors Influencing Susceptibility to Colony Collapse Disorder in Two Strains of Honeybees.”
  • Matthew Harris (Faculty Mentor: Kristy Duran) – poster presentation: “Effects of Dwarf Mistletoe Infection on Soil Nutrients Associated with Pinyon Pine.”
Tri-Beta Award Winners
Tri-Beta Award Winners

School of Business

All 14 Adams State University participants in the recent 2016 Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) State Leadership Conference qualified to compete at this summer’s National Leadership conference, according to club sponsor, Natalie Rogers. In addition, Adams State’s Chance Padilla was elected PBL State President. Read more.

ASU's PBL group.
ASU’s PBL group.


Eight students went to the National American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego, March 13-16, and attended a banquet where they were given a Commendable Award for the club’s participation in the 2014/2015 school year. Samantha Sargent presented a poster: “[A]3: Adams Atoms Activities,” and Edgar Pinedo Escobedo presented his recent BLM internship research, “Ammonia analysis in San Luis Valley Blanca Wetlands using UV-Vis Spectroscopy.”

Earth Sciences

  • Sunayna Wahi
    Sunayna Wahi

    Sunayna Wahi, a senior geology major with a minor in geography, recently received the 2016 Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists’ Neal J. Harr Memorial Outstanding Student Award, as well as the Association of Women Geoscientists (AWG) Outstanding Student Award for 2016. The latter award was based on faculty recommendations.

  • Physical geography majors Seth Clock and Cory Ott presented their own research with Dr. Jared Beeton at the annual Association of American Geographers conference in San Francisco. Their presentation was “An Undergraduate Researcher’s Guide to Building a Geomorphic GIS Database.”

English, Theatre, and Communication

  • The Department of English, Theatre, and Communication presented its annual writing awards at a ceremony and reading, April 22. Junior Hannah Nakashima ’17, creative writing major, was recognized as the recipient of the Erin Gilmore Memorial Scholarship. Read more.
  • ASU’s Lost and Found Improv Troupe, directed by Asst. Professor of Theatre Jenna Neilsen, traveled to Chicago over Spring Break for workshops at the world-renowned Second City Training Center. The week-long intensive focused on the troupe and long form improvisation. The group also attended ten improv and sketch shows at five different theatres and took in cultural events such as the Field Museum, the Chicago Institute of Art, the “bean” in Millenium Park, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Chicago History Museum. The troupe will showcase their own newly devised long form, the creation of which started in Chicago, at their last on-campus performance, Saturday, May 7.
The Lost & Found at Second City in Chicago.
The Lost & Found at Second City in Chicago.



History, Anthropology, Philosophy, Political Science & Spanish

  • El Parnaso, the Adams State Spanish Club, presented its annual Pan American Days for area high school students April 21. Alamosa High School student Octavio Villaseñor and Sargent High School student Ana Serna received $600 scholarships to Adams State University for their presentations. Overall results include Sargent High School, first place; Alamosa High School, second place; and Monte Vista High School, third place. According to advisor Dr. Eva Rayas Solís, the Spanish Club, formed in 1928, has organized the event for over 85 years. She said seven high schools participated this year, including Alamosa High School, Centauri High School, Centennial High School, Del Norte High School, Monte Vista High School, Sargent High School and Sierra Grande High School. Read more.
  • Dr. Liza Nealy, asst. professor of political science, will be the featured guest speaker and panel presenter at “Scandal In Real Time: A National Conference on Black Women, Politics, and Oral History,” to be held at the University of Irvine California in May. All her conference expenses will be paid, and she will receive an honorarium. Nealy will present her peer-reviewed book, African American Women Voters: Racialized Religiosity, Political Consciousness and Progressive Political Action In U.S. Presidential Elections From 1964 Through 2008 (University Press of America]. In her lecture, she will discuss key themes in her work and concepts she has developed that will become part of an oral history book project produced by the University of Mississippi Press that draws greater attention to Black women’s scholarship in political science. In addition, the Cenage Learning Publishing Company selected Nealy to contribute three contracted essays to their Fall 2016 Western Civilization Textbook Series for undergraduate world civilization courses. The essays are: “Hebrews and Israelites,” “The Life of Saint Paul,” and “Islam.”

Human Performance & Physical Education

Two HPPE graduate students successfully defended their thesis projects this spring.

  • Katelyn Smith
    Katelyn Smith

    Katelyn Smith’s work is titled, “Exploring Athletic Identity in a Team of NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Players.” The study explored the underlying factors of athletic identity development in a team of Division II women’s basketball players and presented a perspective of their experiences of a positive psychology intervention focused on developing positive self-identity.

  • Dustin Oranchuk’s thesis is “Comparison of the Hang High-Pull and Trap-Bar Jump Squat in the Development of Vertical Jump and Isometric Force-Time Characteristics.” The study compared vertical jump performance and isometric force and rate of force development (RFD) following a ten-week intervention employing either the HHP or TBJS in collegiate swimmers.

    Dustin Oranchuk
    Dustin Oranchuk
  • Ten members of the HPPE department attended the Rocky Mountain American College of Sports Medicine (RMACSM) annual conference in Denver, April 8-9.The group was led by Dr. Tracey Robinson, who, as a Board member of the RMACSM, helped organize the conference. In addition, Dr. Robinson also served as a poster judge for student research and as a grant reviewer.
    • Two graduate students, Dustin Oranchuk and Zach Switaj, presented three posters of research they have been involved in during the past year or so.
    • HPPE Visiting Instructors Lukus Klawitter and Maria Martinez guided the five undergraduate students in the Student Bowl, an exercise science version of the game show Jeopardy. Team members also included Kurt Urbin, Yosef Teklehaimanot, Mitchell Garcia, Michelle Crowther, and Osheray Streeter.
  • In addition, six undergraduate exercise science majors participated in Student Scholar Days, April 7-8. They worked with their mentor, Dr. Tracey Robinson, throughout the spring semester.
    • Jackson Espeset and David Sheppard’s case study, “Investigating Nutritional Status and Energy Balance of a Vegan Athlete,” was named Best Overall Oral Presentation.
    • Carissa Sidor and Shelby McBain presented a case study: “Energy Balance and Nutritional Status of an Adams State Female Soccer Player.”
    • Ryan Orr & Danielle Mantelli presented their research, “Fitness Age of Adams State Football Players”


  • Graduating senior percussion and music education major, Juan Francisco Cristobal of Alamosa/Santa Eulalia, Huetenango, Guatemala, was awarded a full fellowship to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to earn a master of arts and Ph.D. in ethnomusicology.
  • The ASU Flute Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Tracy Doyle, performed an outreach concert at The Bridge retirement community, April 14. Shelby Glammeyer, Kayleen Peretto-Ortega, Deanna Smith, Miranda Johnson, Emily Johnson, Chelsea Todd, and Madison Pockrus performed a wide variety of repertoire, highlighting academic achievements from their chamber music class, while sharing a public concert with an appreciative audience.flutes-bridge
  • Sophomore percussion performance and music education major Kevin Johnson, of Colorado Springs, competed with the Winter Guard International (WGI) Independent Marching Percussion Group, “Altitude,” at the WGI World Championships on April 7-9 at the University of Dayton.

Dr. Tracy Doyle, professor of music, was selected as a winner of the National Flute Association Convention Performers Competition and will perform in the Newly Published Music concert in San Diego in August. Read more.

James Doyle, assist professor of music, successfully defended his dissertation, “Original Chamber Percussion Works for Silent or Silenced Film in Live Performance,” and will graduate with a Doctor of Musical Arts in Percussion Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on May 14. Also, he recorded drums and percussion on three newly released Howlin’ Dog Record Label releases:


Twelve ASU nursing seniors spent two weeks in April on the island of Roatan, Honduras, for their course “Community/public health clinical rotation.” They were accompanied by Paul Wertz, visiting asst. professor of nursing, and Karen Adamson, asst. professor of nursing; as well as by two nurses from the community who volunteered to help. With help and coordination from Clinica Esperanza, the group distributed over 6,000 pairs of TOMS shoes that were contributed, hosted health fairs, and presented diabetes education classes. The students also supplied a large amount of medical supplies that were donated local health care providers.

“The trip was an eye-opening and amazing experience for the students,” said senior Stephanie Atkins. “We cannot thank our generous community enough for all their help in getting us there.” AS&F contributed about half of the $25,000 cost of the mission. View a video summarizing the experience.


Twenty-three psychology students recently attended the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association conference in Denver, accompanied by Drs. Kelso, Alvarez, Demski, Kirk, and Elison. Nine students presented five oral and poster presentations, one of which won a PSI CHI award:

  • Elizabeth Marino and Tara Grebert: “The Association of Student Status and Loneliness on Self-Efficacy.” Poster (Advisor: Robert Demski)
  • Lenore Reinhart and Robert Demski: “Condensed Self-Compassion Training Pilot Program Effective.” Paper –Psi Chi Award Winner
  • Keren Bakke, Melissa Acosta, and Robert Demski: Poster – “Gender but NOT Narrative Perspective is Associated with Beliefs and Attitudes toward Rape Survivors.”
  • Nick Spencer, Raul Madril, Ian Wingstrom and Kim Kelso presented the paper, “The Space Between Us: Does Stereotype Threat Extend to Sexual Orientation?”
  • Danielle Walters: Paper – “Social Interaction Phobia Scale: Psychometric Analysis and Comparison to the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale.” (Advisor: Jeff Elison)
  • Dr. Jeff Elison, assistant professor of psychology, presented: “Humiliation: Recent Advances and Future Directions.” He also authored an invited entry on that topic for the Encyclopedia of Adolescence, which is in press.
  • Dr. Leslie Alvarez, professor of psychology, presented several sessions: “Depression Quest: Using Gaming to Promote Understanding in Abnormal Psychology,” “But I Was Just a Mentee! Becoming an Undergraduate Research Mentor: A Workshop for Early Career Faculty,” and “Self Care for Students: Strategies for Managing School-Life Balance.” Alvarez also completed part two of her participation in the American Psychological Association’s Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology, in Washington, D.C. She was selected for the program’s eighth cohort as an up-and-coming female leader in psychology. The institute included leadership training and advocacy work on Capitol Hill, urging congresspeople to support legislation regarding women’s treatment in prison. In addition, she recently finished her third year as President Elect, President, and Past President of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association.

Dr. Robert Kirk, assist. professor of psychology, co-authored “Aging and ageism: The roles of identity processing styles and self-consciousness,” which was published by Nova Science Publishers in C Fields’ (Ed.) Stereotypes and stereotyping: Misperceptions, perspectives, and role of social media.

Dr. R. Nathan Pipitone, assoc. professor of psychology, had his paper, “Variation in Men’s Masculinity Affects Preferences for Women’s Voices at Different Points in the Menstrual Cycle,” accepted for publication in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.


Five sociology majors presented their research at the 10th Annual Western Slope Undergraduate Sociology Symposium, held at Fort Lewis College in Durango. Sociology students from Western, Mesa, Fort Lewis and Adams participate in this symposium, which rotates among the schools, and will be held next spring (2017) at ASU. The group was accompanied by Dr. Ben Waddell, assoc. professor of sociology, and Dr. Grace E. Young, professor and chair of sociology

ASU student projects were as follows:

  • Rebecca L. Bay, Kirsten Salazar, and Joseph Duran presented “Knowing the Difference.” They conducted a taste test with ASU students of generic bottled water, smart bottled water, and tap water to determine whether preference is a social construct or due to an actual taste difference.
  • Cody Narvaez and Qiana Barfield presented “Technology & Social Media: How it Affects Students: An Investigation of Students’ Self-Report Data.” They designed a survey and administered it to ASU students to determine if greater use of technology leads to lower GPAs and lower emotional well-being.

Student Activities Update

National Society of Leadership and Success inducts students

At a banquet April 27, Adams State’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) celebratedtge induction of 37 student members. With a total of 197 members, 79 are fully inducted.

Four ASU students were recognized with NSLS’ highest leadership certificate, the National Engaged Leader Award, which is presented to those who go above and beyond the steps towards induction and perform community service. Adams State’s award recipients were Petra Lamla, Lauren Karlskin, Ariel Rangel-Pereira, and Seth Clock.

Keynote speakers for the evening were Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero and Dr. Liz Hensley, asst. professor of marketing and an Alamosa City Councilor.

For information on the program and how students can get involved, contact NSLS Advisor, Assistant Director of Student Life and Leadership, Jeni Carter.

Multicultural Student Governance Committee formed

The Multicultural Student Governance Committee (MCSG) was initiated in the Fall ’15 semester. Nominated for the committee by faculty and staff, students on the committee include Marissa Morgan, Sheniqua Griffith, Simone Jackson, Megan Benfield, Joecelyne Cabrera and Matthew Tulley. The group is advised by Jeni Carter, assistant director of Student Life and Leadership. This year, the group developed a constitution, mission, and purpose statement for both the committee and the Center for Inclusivity, which is being developed in the SUB area previously used for ASAP. The group’s goal for the Center for Inclusivity is to provide cultural clubs and organizations a safe space to meet.

MCSG Mission
To promote a safe, diverse, and inclusive campus in order to cease marginalization, embrace culture and learning, and embrace what is unique to the individual, while providing resources for the marginalized through support and collaboration.

MCSG Purpose
To allow individuals to freely express themselves without fear of marginalization.

The group participated in a leadership retreat April 2, and four students attended the University of Denver’s Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence with Dr. Nick Saenz and CIELO’s (Community for Inclusion, Equity, Leadership and Opportunity) President’s Liaison for Inclusion and Equity Dr. Carol Guerrero-Murphy. Students attended workshops that ranged from confronting one’s own biases to recent issues around the Black Lives Movement and Islamophobia.

MCSG has also supported other campus groups by helping to help fund C.A.S.A.’s Caesar Chavez week, as well as travel expenses for nursing students who went to Honduras for their “Community/public health clinical rotation.” MCSG also contributed materials for Title V’s upcoming SymPAWsium

Climbing Team has best finish to date at nationals

The Adams State University Climbing Team had fantastic results at USA Climbing’s Collegiate National Championship, held in San Diego, April 22-23. The eight-member team finished 15th out of 42 schools. There were a total of 165 female and 222 male competitors. Highlights included a 3rd place podium finish in sport climbing by sophomore Noel Prandoni, 20th place in speed by freshman Anna LaSusa, 39th place in bouldering by senior Amber Reyes, 53rd in sport by senior Connor Hile, 34th place in speed by freshman Travis Fraker, 36th in sport by sophomore Wyatt Moran, 46th in bouldering by senior Eric Learn, and 92nd in sport by graduate student Nicholas Hedges. The program looks to improve even more next year as the team develops better training systems and a deeper talent pool. The team is currently recruiting climbers; for information, please contact Marshal Hartley.

ASU's Climbing Team
ASU’s Climbing Team

Results: USA Climbing’s Collegiate National Championship

Female Bouldering

  • 39th – Amber Reyes
  • 45th – Noel Prandoni
  • 61st – Connor Hile
  • 69th – Anna LaSusa

Male Bouldering

  • 46th – Eric Learn
  • 75th – Travis Fraker
  • 85th – Wyatt Moran
  • 110th – Nicholas Hedges

Female Sport

  • 3rd – Noel Prandoni
  • 53rd – Connor Hile
  • 55th – Anna LaSusa
  • 57th – Amber Reyes

Male Sport

  • 36th – Wyatt Moran
  • 92nd – Nicholas Hedges
  • 105th – Eric Learn
  • 107th – Travis Fraker

Female Speed

  • 20th – Anna LaSusa
  • 36th – Noel Prandoni
  • 53rd – Connor Hile
  • 70th – Amber Reyes

Male Speed

  • 34th – Travis Fraker
  • 57th – Eric Learn
  • 99th – Nicholas Hedges
  • 183rd – Wyatt Moran


CEC Spring Fling Lunch

Second Annual Spring Fling Lunch
Thursday, April 7
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.- Theater Building
$10 each
12:15 p.m.: Dessert Auction

Sponsored by the Classified Employee Council, all faculty and staff are invited to the lunch. Proceeds will benefit the Classified Employee Council Scholarship fund that was established for classified employees and their families.

The menu is Mexican and will include enchiladas, taquitos, beans, and rice. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance by contacting Jackie Martinez, ext. 7437, and will also be sold at the door. Those interested in donating a dessert for the auction are asked to contact Jackie Martinez.

Student Scholar Days: April 7-8

McDaniel Hall 101
Thursday, April 7: 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday, April 8: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Now in its ninth year, Student Scholar Days is a two-day academic conference highlighting the achievements of undergraduates in several majors. All are welcome to attend. The entire campus community is invited to attend the closing reception and awards ceremony, beginning at 5 p.m., Friday, April 8, in the McDaniel Hall Solarium. Light refreshments will be served. Schedule details.

Upcoming Faculty Development Events

  • “Top Underutilized Blackboard Tools: Part 1” by Fonz Velasquez
    Wednesday, April 6 at 8 a.m. OR 4 p.m. – BUS 129
  • “The Lilly Conference: Lightning Round” hosted by Geoff Johnson
    Expand your teaching “tool box” with tips from faculty who received Faculty Development Committee funding to attend a regional Lilly Conference on evidence-based teaching and learning.
    Friday, April 15 – noon – 1 p.m. – McD 387
    Lunch is provided. so please RSVP.
  • The FDC invites suggestions for next year’s faculty development programming. A suggestion box can be found on the Faculty and Professional Development page.