Arlan Norman Award for Excellence in Student Mentoring

The Arlan Norman Award for Excellence recognizes a faculty member in the College of Science and Engineering for excellence in mentoring student research. The financial award goes to the student(s) of the faculty member’s in the form of a stipend plus additional funds for supplies to support the student recipient’s summer research.

Selection Criteria

The award will be given for excellence shown by a faculty member in either graduate or undergraduate student mentoring, with preference given to graduate student mentoring. The faculty awardee 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 (preferably a graduate student) to receive the funds for research associated with this award based upon a demonstrated merit and outstanding promise in 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 June. Funds are provided to the student in the form of a summer stipend (up to $7,200).

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 each fall quarter with the award being presented at the Celebration of Excellence Awards in June. To nominate someone, please submit a nomination letter and the candidate’s CV from Department Chair or Program Director to the Dean of College of Science & Engineering via email to Heather Greenlaw ( The nomination letter should address the award criteria described in the award description above.

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. Nominations are now CLOSED for the 2021 award.


Robert Mitchell of Geology standing in front of green shrubbery wearing his award medallionRobert Mitchell - Department of Geology

Bob is the Digges Distinguished Professor of Engineering Geology in the Geology Department, where he has been a faculty member since 1996. His hydrology-related research includes assessing agricultural impacts on ground-water quality, characterizing aquifers, and modeling the effects of climate change on mountain hydrology and hillslope processes in the western Cascades. Bob’s research has involved more than 30 graduate students and has been instrumental to management and policy decisions regarding water quantity and quality for regional tribes, regulatory agencies, and municipalities. He works hard to provide student access to professional experiences and geologic licensing and serves as faculty advisor, for WWU’s student chapter of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists. Bob has held leadership positions in state and national professional organizations and currently serves on the Board of the Environmental & Engineering Division of the Geological Society of America. 

Past Awardees


Photo of Alejandro Acevedo-GutierrezAlejandro Acevedo-Gutierrez - Biology

A native of Mexico, Alejandro is interested in the interaction between marine mammals and their environment, in the teaching of science, particularly to groups underrepresented in the sciences, and in helping future scientists, teachers or conservationists achieve their goals.  At Western, he has mentored 15 graduate and 32 undergraduate students, and supervised 128 undergraduates.  He was featured in the Academy Award nominated IMAX film “Dolphins,” named MOSI Hispanic Scientist of the Year in 2001, and Science Spectrum Trailblazer, Top Minority in Science in 2005.