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 ($7,200) and one to an Undergraduate Mentor ($6,000). 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 (Up to $7,200 for graduate, and $6,000 for undergraduate).

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

College of Science & Engineering

Nomination Process

Nominations will be made by the Department Chairs or Program Directors by submitting letters of nomination and candidate CVs via webform. Nominations for the 2023 award are currently CLOSED. Thank you to those that took the time to submit a nomination!

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.


John Misasi wearing a WWU award medallion

John Misasi - Engineering & Design

John Misasi is an Associate Professor of Plastics and Composites Engineering at Western Washington University. Professor Misasi focuses his teaching and research on the relationships between the chemical structures, manufacturing processes, and properties of industrially-relevant polymers and composites. His passion, however, is in educating next generation engineers and scientists about aspects of polymer and composite sustainability through hands-on curriculum and meaningful research experiences. This philosophy has led to successful collaborations with industry heavyweights like Nike, Boeing, and HP, and start-ups like Vartega Carbon Fiber Recycling and the Ocean Plastic Recovery Project. Within seven years, Dr. Misasi has published fourteen peer-reviewed conference papers and nine posters at professional conferences with student co-authors, and half of the students that have conducted research under his guidance have technical papers on their resumes. Seven of Dr. Misasi’s students have gone on to graduate school to pursue their Ph.D degrees. John’s ultimate goal with his teaching and research is to make the world a cleaner, more sustainable, and overall groovier place to be. 

John Gilbertson wearing WWU award medallion

John Gilbertson - Chemistry

John Gilbertson is a Professor of Chemistry and has been on the faculty at WWU since 2008.  John graduated with a B.A. in chemistry from Augustana College in 2000; and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Oregon in 2005.  John’s research interests lie in the area of coordination chemistry; with a focus on the deoxygenation of pervasive environmental pollutants such carbon dioxide and nitrate/nitrite.  His work has been supported by over $3.5 million in external funding, including an NSF Early CAREER Award, a Cottrell Scholar (PUI class) Award, and a Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award.  John has mentored over 45 undergraduate students and nine MS students to date, including three Department of Chemistry Outstanding MS Graduates (2018; 2020; 2021), a Department of Chemistry Outstanding Graduate (2012), a 2019 Elouise Cobell Scholarship for Indigenous Education (2019), the American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry Award for Undergraduate Research (Team Award 2018), an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship (2010), and a WWU Presidential Scholar (2012).

Past Awardees

1 awardee(s) for this year

2021 Awardees

Mark Bussell, Chemistry sits outside wearing his awards medal

Mark Bussell - Chemistry

Mark Bussell joined the faculty in 1990 and is a Professor of Chemistry, while also being affiliated with the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center and the Institute for Energy Studies. Mark is a native of the Pacific Northwest and obtained a B.A. in chemistry from Reed College and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.  Mark’s research interests lie in the heterogeneous catalysis of energy-relevant processes, with particular focus on the development of catalytic materials to produce clean and renewable fuels.  His research has attracted more than $3 million in external research funding from federal agencies and private foundations.  Mark has mentored 62 undergraduate and 17 M.S. research students and 46 of these former students have pursued graduate or professional degrees.  Two of his M.S. student mentees received the Western Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award (1994, 2005), and two undergraduate student mentees received NSF Graduate Research Fellowships (2014, 2017). Mark served two terms each on the Science Advisory Committee of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA, 2005-2011) and the Petroleum Research Fund Advisory Board of the American Chemical Society (ACS-PRF, 2012-2017), and he recently completed two terms on the RCSA Cottrell Scholar Program Committee (2015-2020).