Arlan Norman Award for Excellence in Student Mentoring

The Arlan Norman Award for Excellence in Student Mentoring recognizes a faculty member in the College of Science and Engineering for excellence in mentoring student research.

There are now two categories of this award, one award will go to a Graduate Mentor and one to an Undergraduate Mentor. The financial award goes to the students of the faculty recipients, in the form of a stipend plus additional funds for supplies to support the student’s summer research.

Dr. Arlan Norman, beloved founding Dean of the College of Sciences and Technology (now College of Science and Engineering) passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, July 31, 2021. This award was near and dear to Arlie's heart and is truly a fitting tribute to his legacy and is one of the most important for the College of Science and Engineering. It lives on in perpetuity in Arlie’s name as a true testament to his life’s work: promoting, supporting, and celebrating excellence in research.

Selection Criteria

The faculty awardees (one as Graduate Mentor, one as Undergraduate Mentor) will have a demonstrated record of mentoring student research as evidenced by student co-authored conference presentations, student co-authored peer reviewed publications in high quality journals and proceedings, and other evidence of student success such as research awards, fellowships, etc.

The faculty awardee will select a student from their research group to receive the corresponding funds for research associated with this award based upon a demonstrated merit and outstanding promise in student research. Multiple people may be nominated from a department or program.


The award recipient will be presented with a Western medallion award at the Celebration of Excellence Awards in May. Funds are provided to the student in the form of a summer stipend. (Approximately $7,200 for graduate students and $6,000 for undergraduates.)

The Fund’s distribution may be used to pay any costs related to educational expenses, including, but not limited to: tuition, books, materials/supplies, summer research support or conference presentation attendance and travel, etc. The expenditures will be the responsibility of Western Washington University, acting through the designee of the President of the University.

Award Administration

If you have questions about this award, please contact the College of Science & Engineering at or (360) 650-6400.

Nomination Process

Nominations will be made by the Department Chairs or Program Directors by submitting letters of nomination and candidate CVs via the webform linked above or on the Arlan Norman Award page linked below. Nominations for the 2024 award have CLOSED.

Awardee selection will be in accordance with an approved process by the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering and the Dean of the Graduate School.


Dr. Amanda Murphy smiling on Old Main Lawn wearing a WWU award medallion

Amanda Murphy - Chemistry

Amanda Murphy is a Professor of Chemistry and the Director of the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC). Amanda is a WWU alumni, graduating with degrees in Engineering and Chemistry in 2001. She earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at UC Berkeley and was a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University before returning to WWU as a faculty member in 2010.

Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the development of biomaterials for drug delivery, bioelectronic and tissue engineering applications. She has received ~$2 million in grants that have supported her research, shared instrumentation and student outreach programs. To date, 57 undergraduates and 8 master’s students have participated in her research program, with 26 becoming co-authors on the 17 peer-reviewed papers her group has published thus far. Her students regularly present at regional and national conferences, and seven students have completed honors theses. To date, twenty-four of her students pursued graduate or professional degrees, while ten secured industrial research positions following graduation. Amanda directed the NSF-REU program in Chemistry from 2018-2022, which provided summer research experiences to 26 students with limited opportunities at their home institution. In 2021, she received a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award for her dedication to undergraduate research and education.

Dr. Moushumi Sharmin wearing a beautiful saree dress and the WWU award medallion

Moushumi Sharmin - Computer Science

Associate Professor Moushumi Sharmin is the graduate student advisor in the Computer Science Department. After earning her bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Moushumi received an M.S. from Marquette University in 2006 and a Ph.D. in computer science specializing in human-computer interaction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013. Moushumi worked as a research assistant professor at the University of Memphis before coming to Western in 2015.

Moushumi’s research focuses on designing computing technology for addressing behavioral and mental health conditions, such as autism and stress management. In 2016, Moushumi co-founded the NEAT Research Lab, which aims to design technological solutions to support neurodivergent individuals. For the last two years, Moushumi along with her collaborators and students are investigating accessibility issues related to academic content and utilizing generative AI technology to facilitate the creation of neurodivergence-accessible content. Another research project focuses on understanding the evolution of autism research and identifying gaps between autistic individuals’ needs and current technological solutions. All these projects involve neurodivergent students as lead student researchers, who participate in every aspect of the research process. 

Past Awardees

2 awardee(s) for this year

2023 Awardees

Kimihiro Noguchi smiling proudly in a suit jacket and wearing a WWU medallion on a ribbon.

Kimihiro Noguchi - Mathematics

Statistics Professor Kimihiro Noguchi joined the Math Department in 2014 and has supervised more than 30 students on theoretical, computational, and applied statistics projects. In 2019, Noguchi and two undergraduate students, Patrick Carroll and Alexander Kuhn, created the student club RAW Stats (Research Assembly at Western: Statistics), which brings together students and faculty to discuss research projects and career opportunities in statistics. His undergraduate and graduate research students have successfully published peer-reviewed papers in highly respected journals, including Behavior Research Methods, Environmetrics, Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, Journal of Forecasting, and The American Statistician. In addition, they regularly present their research at regional, national, and international conferences, including the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Joint Statistical Meetings, and Joint Mathematics Meetings. Furthermore, a few groups of his students won the Undergraduate Class Project Competition, a paper competition sponsored by the American Statistical Association and the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education.

Shawn Arellano smiling wearing a floral sweater and a WWU medallion on a neck ribbon

Shawn Arellano - Biology

Shawn Arellano is an associate professor in the Biology Department and the Marine and Coastal Sciences (MACS) Program. A native of Kansas, she earned her Ph.D. in marine biology in 2009 from the University of Oregon. She came to Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) in 2012 to co-develop WWU’s Marine Science Distinguished Scholars Program, then joined the Biology faculty in 2018. She is a marine invertebrate larval ecologist and deep-sea ecologist.
The best part of her job is helping students who have had little previous research experience—due to life stage, cultural norms, where they grew up, or other barriers to access—get their start in marine science. Arellano has mentored eight graduate students, all of whom have received grants or fellowships. Three have earned the Graduate School’s Outstanding Graduate Student award, two have earned Biology’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award, two have been WWU’s nominee for the Western Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Thesis Competition, and one earned National Sea Grant’s prestigious Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. Of the five students who have graduated, two have careers in marine environmental science and the others are in or entering doctoral programs. Arellano has also mentored a dozen Research Experience for Undergraduates interns, four interns through SPMC’s former Multicultural Initiatives in Marine Science Undergraduate Program, three MACS capstone or ESCI internship students, one Fine Arts intern, and one National Science Foundation-sponsored post-baccalaureate researcher.