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.


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.

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.

Past Awardees

2 awardee(s) for this year

2022 Awardees

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).

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.