About this program

The Advancing Excellence and Equity in Science (AEES) Program helps students, especially first generation students, underrepresented minorities, and women, succeed in the natural sciences. Up to 72 incoming first-year and 24 incoming transfers are selected each year to participate in the program.

AEES participants will learn about undergraduate research projects from faculty in Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics and Astronomy. They work closely with a selected group of peers, take advantage of ongoing faculty mentoring, and take AEES seminars and Math for the Natural Sciences in their first year at Western

The AEES Program is funded by a prestigious $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institutes Inclusive Excellence program (HHMI IE).

AEES Distinguished Scholars Program


Academic interest in:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology
  • Marine & Coastal Science
  • Geology
  • Earth Science
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Pre-Medicine
  • Pre-Pharmacy
  • Pre-Dentistry
  • Pre-Optometry
  • Pre-Veterinary Medicine



Thanks for your interest in our Distinguished Scholars program. Applications for admitted Fall 2024 students will reopen in January 2024.

The AEES program made me feel welcomed to campus during my first year and surrounded me with excellent teachers and mentors, as well as other scientifically focused freshmen. It helped me understand more of what science is and can be at Western. I was able to create research posters and learn about faculty research, which made me feel like I was a part of the scientific community. The program gave me a place to not only discuss science, but also a place where I could learn and grow during my first year at WWU.

Shae Fairchild

First Year, 2019-2020

Dr. Marco Hatch, a Samish Indian Nation member, and Assistant Professor at Western Washington University working with an undergraduate research student in local tidal pools.
Dr. Melissa Rice and students in a geology classroom.
A student in a tie-dyed lab coat uses laboratory glasswear.


Guaranteed access to a set of courses aimed at building community and success in science majors during your first year at Western.

Fall Quarter

  • Seminar 1 – Becoming a Student of Science (2 credits)
  • Math for the Natural Sciences (3 credits) or English 101 (5 credits)
  • Math* (5 credits)
  • Course in major requirements (5 credits). May include Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Math or Physics and Astronomy.

Winter Quarter

  • Seminar 2 – Understanding Scientific Research (2 credits)
  • English 101 (5 credits) or Math for the Natural Sciences (3 credits)
  • Math* or General University Requirements (5 credits)
  • Course in major requirements (5 credits). May include Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Math or Physics and Astronomy.

*Depends on math placement and coursework already completed

Support & Community

  • Support from our faculty mentoring program throughout your time at Western.
  • Connection with a small cohort of peers which allows students to get to know other students and form study groups more easily than students in larger classes.