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.

Author: jmwaecht

Assistant to the President for Communications
Editor/Designer of alumni magazine – A-Stater