Research, Design, Create
Do cutting-edge research, take renewable energy to the next level, design a race car, make art, create an app, or turn recycled waste into useful objects. Create the future you want to see.
Our primary focus on undergraduates means you won't have to wait until you're a graduate student to work directly with professors on research, solve real-world problems, and present and publish your work.
Prepare for Med School
"Studying biochemistry has allowed me to pursue my dream of making positive contributions to the medical field. I attribute so many of my successes and opportunities to the professors and mentors who have helped bolster my love for science."
--Anne d’Aquino, Western Alum
Discover Your Own DNA
Students in Dr. Lina Dahlberg's lab use gene editing technology to explore fundamental scientific concepts. They look at how different genes function in roundworms, which breed quickly and are easy to examine. What they discover about roundworms gives us insight into how our own genes and systems function.
Search for a Cure
Neuroscience students get to work right alongside Dr. Jeff Carroll, a leading Huntington's disease researcher, at Western.
Dr. Carroll once published a paper with nine student co-authors in Scientific Reports – an online, open-access journal from the publishers of Nature. Getting your name on research as an undergraduate puts you a step ahead!
Research doesn't stay in the classroom — or on planet Earth — at Western, and you don't have to either. Explore glaciers, mountains, rivers, other countries, and even Mars as you earn your degree.
Above the Earth
Get Your Feet Wet
Below the Surface
Sarah O'Sell was part of a team of eight Western students who developed the first completely transparent solar window, which went on to earn many prizes and awards.
"Western is unique in providing cross-program collaboration opportunities tied to solving real-world problems. While an Industrial Design Engineering undergrad with a passion for sustainability and entrepreneurship, I was able to help lead a government-backed grad student's emerging technology through prototyping and pitching, and am happy to see it's now helping the NASA Mars Missions and the agriculture industry. This experience provided the foundation for a career in deep tech business development for the Circular Economy!"
Design for Good
When Western's Junior Industrial Design has asked to develop a new housing solution, they came up with
Cube3: adaptable housing built with people in mind. Cube3 is modular; it can be changed, rearranged, and combined to create housing that changes with the occupant's needs. Their project won three prestigious design awards, including a Gray Award and two IDA Design Gold Awards.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Industrial Design students Keaton LoCicero and Wylie Jacoy discovered that long periods of time sitting in one position was bad for the body and mind. They sought to give the user some control of their environment and encourage change in position. The desk has two distinct heights, one for sitting and one for standing.
Their classmates created other work-from-home-inspired furniture, such as customizable partitions and dual-purpose desks, to help people solve immediate, tangible problems.
Put Your Art Out There
It's one thing to create an animated masterpiece, it's quite another to display it on a building!
Western's fine arts students project their animations onto one of the most iconic buildings in downtown Bellingham every year so the entire city can experience their work.
As a student, Graphic Design major Zach Becker won an Adobe Design Achievement Award for ISS – Isolation, an interactive, digital publication inspired by the literal and metaphorical exploration of space. Today, Zach is working as a contract designer for Microsoft and is interested in continuing to explore motion design and virtual reality.
Bring Your Ideas to Life
Brynn Hofer danced in more than 20 productions at Western, one of which she also choreographed. She also wrote and received a grant that fully funded research in biomechanics, examining how dancers learn new movement styles. When she graduated, Brynn already had a job lined up at Polaris Dance Theatre, a professional dance company in Portland, Oregon.
"The Dance faculty give so much of themselves to the dancers. They have an innate ability to help their students that is quite inspiring – I hope to be that way with my students one day."
Western students rarely stay inside the lines; our artists are always experimenting and finding new connections between art and the world around them. Check out nuRust: an exploratory experiment in material, form, process and code from WWU Alum Ryan Rothaus.
Build Important Soft Skills
Students in Dr. Rich Brown's Devising Production course get to create an original work for the main stage theatre season. All students write, design, and perform the piece.
"Theatre in general, and acting in specific, teaches empathy and compassion. It teaches resilience, self-worth, work ethic, collaboration, and problem-solving. All those 'soft skills' that employers are always seeking, theatre teaches them in spades." --Dr. Rich Brown
Oscar Winner TJ Martin Started Here
In 2012, TJ won an Academy Award for the documentary "Undefeated," which he co-directed – he was the first director of African-American descent to win an Oscar for a full-length feature film. In 2017, he won an Emmy for his National Geographic documentary “LA 92.” Both documentaries address issues of race and class. Martin was a student at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, one of Western’s seven colleges.
“You’ll fail a million times before you make one success. Fairhaven and WWU created a comfortable environment for that to happen. It was a good stomping ground where I could experiment a lot and felt comfortable making mistakes.”
Odesza & Death Cab for Cutie Met Here
Even though they excelled in different academic fields—Knight in Physics and Mills in Graphic Design—the duo shared a musical connection. Shortly before graduating in 2012, they formed ODESZA. The electronic group quickly grew in popularity. They were nominated for a Grammy 2016 and again in 2018.
Both bands returned to Bellingham in 2019 to put on the Double Major concert, an event that brought the entire city together for a fun party.
Western is home to six student-run newspapers, literary and art journals, and magazines, including the completely student-run Western Front. Any student enrolled at Western can pitch stories, columns, and photos to the Western Front's student editors!
Jeopardy Magazine ia a student-run publication that showcases the unique talents of the WWU community. It features poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and visual art. First published in 1965, it has a long legacy of presenting contemporary joys and anxieties, as well as themes that transcend decades.
For the aspiring DJ or the curious radio lover, Western's student-run radio station, KUGS 89.3, provides the opportunity to run your own radio show. If you prefer television, Western Window provides first-hand experience with video production.