Paul J. Olscamp Research Award

Named after the eleventh president of Western, the Paul J. Olscamp Research Award goes to a faculty member from either the College of Humanities and Social Sciences or the College of Science and Engineering in recognition of their impressive record of achievement in scholarship and research during their time at Western.

*Please Note: Only Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, or Professors are eligible for this award. (Instructors, Lecturers, Senior Instructors are not eligible. Please check the staff directory for faculty titles.)

Selection Criteria

While the award is intended to recognize all of one’s excellence in scholarship while at Western, supporting research and scholarship materials from the candidate shall be limited to no more than five years, but should include the last three.


The award recipient will be presented with a Western medallion award at the Celebration of Excellence Awards in May. This award also includes a payment of $2,500, made possible by the Western Washington University Foundation. (Please note: for each payment, the University also contributes approximately $1,553.66 for tax related deductibles plus benefits for a total expenditure of approximately $3,553 per award.)

Award Administration

College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Science and Engineering Dean’s Offices (rotating).

The 2024 award will be facilitated by the College of Science and Engineering.

Nomination Process

Only WWU faculty members, department chairs, and academic deans may nominate their faculty colleagues for a Scholarship/Research award. Nominations for the 2024 award are currently CLOSED. Thank you to those that took the time to nominate someone!


Photo of David Sattler wearing WWU award medallion with green trees in the background

David Sattler - Psychology

David N. Sattler received a B.A. in psychology with a minor in Spanish from San Diego State University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology with a minor in industrial/organizational psychology from Michigan State University. Social justice and environmental justice are at the core of David’s international research and scholarship, which examine discrimination and stigma, climate change risk perception and adaptation, and disaster preparedness and response. The resulting grants, projects, and publications represent and give voice to people in 14 countries, including Mongolia, Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the United States. David established the International Tsunami Museum in Thailand to assist with community recovery and has been serving as a delegate for the Kingdom of Tonga at multiple United Nations Climate Change Conferences. David is especially grateful to superb colleagues and students at Western and institutions around the globe for collaborating on these seminal projects.

Past Awardees

1 awardee(s) for this year

2022 Awardees

Melissa Rice wearing WWU award medallion

Melissa Rice - Geology

Dr. Melissa Rice is an Associate Professor of Planetary Science at Western Washington University, where she has held a joint appointment in the Geology Department and the Physics & Astronomy Department since 2014. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University in 2012, and was a NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral fellow at Caltech from 2012-2014. Dr. Rice has established a top-flight, highly productive, research program in Planetary Geology here at WWU, with a focus on the evolution of landforms and evidence for water-involved mineral and landscape processes on the surface of Mars. Her active work on four separate Mars lander/rover missions is one excellent indicator of the top-flight quality of her scholarly work. Her research focuses on the history of Mars, and she and her students are part of NASA’s active Curiosity and Perseverance rover teams. Specifically, she works with the Mastcam-Z cameras, which are the “scientific eyes” of the mission. She also manages a reflectance spectroscopy laboratory facility at WWU.  When she’s not exploring Mars, she enjoys traveling and exploring the best planet in the solar system: Earth!