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.
Research for Good
An Environmental Science major, Bryson Bellefeuille wanted to discover how chemicals impact environmental and human health. He researched contaminated zones around the Pacific Northwest and presented his findings, interned at a hospital studying the effect of air pollution on lung disease, and completed a summer research internship studying molecular and environmental toxicology.
54% of recent grads reported collaborating with a professor on a research or creative project outside of class requirements
Ready to research?
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.
Anne d’Aquino worked on research at Western that will ultimately aid in therapies for the bleeding disorder hemophilia A. When she graduated, she was accepted to Northwestern University’s Molecular Biophysics graduate program.
"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."
Solve Real-World Problems
Western students are taking renewable energy technology to the next level, studying the neurobiology of drug and food addiction, and working to discover the cause of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. They're presenting their work on and off campus and even internationally. Active learning and close working relationships with faculty mentors will prepare you well for graduate school and research-intensive fields.
The Perfect Environment to Study the Environment
Located between the mountains and the bay, Western is ideally situated for field work. Explore natural marine habitat at our 78-acre off-campus coastal research facility, the Shannon Point Marine Center, or head into the mountains with the Mountain Environments Research Institute.
Learn about our DNA from Worms
Dr. Lina Dahlberg's lab uses 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
Dr. Jeff Carroll, a leading Huntington’s disease researcher, recently published a paper with nine student co-authors in Scientific Reports – an online, open access journal from the publishers of Nature. They studied whether a specific genetic strain of lab mice would make a good model for testing drugs and other strategies aimed at preventing the onset of Huntington’s disease. Results of the study seem promising.
Make Something New
Learning involves so much more than lectures, papers, and tests – so dive in. Whether it’s designing new technology or working in a community garden developing sustainable agricultural methods, let your interests and passions be the driving force for innovation.
Sarah O'Sell was part of a team of eight Western students from a range of majors who came together to develop and promote the first completely transparent solar window, which can decrease a building's heating and cooling costs by 10 to 30 percent. Since 2015, the Solar Window project has won $105,000 in grants and prizes including first place at an Environmental Protection Agency competition in Washington, D.C.
"Western’s Industrial Design program gives students the skills and experience to make just about anything. Having the ability to invent and construct the world around me is awesome."
Looking at the past five years, 87% of newly-graduated Industrial Design students have found employment in their field – they work for HP, Mountain Hardwear, Specialized Bicycles, Sonosite, Microsoft XBox, Burton, Dakine, Intel, Boeing, GE, Intermec, Gillette, and Expedia, among many others
Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow
Students in the Plastics and Composites Engineering program work closely with industry-leader Zodiac Aerospace to solve real-world problems, like creating aircraft fasteners without the use of toxic cadmium. This partnership is a result of a grant from the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation. The students have a unique expertise with the materials they help develop, expertise that has lead directly to job offers.
Grow Agricultural Knowledge
The student-run Outback Farm offers hand-on experience in sustainable agriculture, beekeeping, habitat restoration, ethnobotany, and environmental studies. The community garden has free individual plots for students and community members. The Forest Garden is filled with fruit trees, berry bushes, and native plants and animals. The amphitheater and outdoor classroom host community gatherings and outdoor events, like concerts and movies.
Design Your World
Reshape your world by designing digital experiences, telling compelling stories, and creating new solutions from old material.
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.
"The exhilaration I feel as I’m creating never seems to dull – each new project is more exciting than the last as I learn new techniques and polish the preexisting."
Reduce, Reuse, Remake
Students in our highly-acclaimed Industrial Design program consistently receive national and international recognition for their innovative and functional designs. ReMade is an annual project combining sustainability and entrepreneurship – students create, market, and sell products made entirely of recycled, reclaimed, and/or discarded materials. Industrial Design student Leon Wolfendale won the 2012 Mt. Baker Plywood Furniture Design Competition with the toolbox he created for the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention.
The Summer Design Abroad course is offered as an opportunity for students to gain an international perspective on contemporary design.
Share Your Work
Western offers opportunities and venues to showcase your creative work, from art shows, plays, and concerts to magazines, radio, and television.
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."
With 300 student performances and exhibits each year, it's easy to showcase your creative work – whether it's music, photography, painting or theatre. Your unique talents and interests will be honored and honed, preparing you for a successful path in the world of art.
Western is home to six newspapers, literary and art journals, and magazines, including The Planet – the only undergraduate environmental journalism magazine in the nation.
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 film or television, KVIK and Western Window provide first-hand experience with film and video production.