WSU neuroscience students awarded Peter Zornes memorial scholarship

Katie Sciarrotta Sophie Shirali after they were named winners of the 2023 Zornes Memorial Neuroscience Scholarship, Friday, March 31, 2023, in Pullman. (College of Veterinary Medicine/Ted S. Warren)

Katie Sciarrotta and Sophie Shirali are the latest recipients of the Peter A. Zornes Memorial Neuroscience Scholarship.

The scholarship, intended to benefit exemplary undergraduate neuroscience students like its namesake, was established in honor and memory of Peter Zornes, of Oakesdale, Washington, who was killed two years after graduating cum laude in 2003 from Washington State University. The scholarship has benefited undergraduates in WSU’s Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience program since 2008.

“I’m so honored to receive this because not only do I get to join this league of fantastic past Washington State University neuroscientists, but I also get to kind of carry on the legacy of Peter Zornes,” Sciarrotta said. “And I think the coolest thing about this particular scholarship is it really recognizes students’ for their determination and dedication to the field.”

Shirali agreed. She said the scholarship’s value is much more than monetary.

“Beyond the financial support that it provides, it means a lot that I can represent the neuroscience department in this special way,” Shirali said. “I have read a lot about Peter online and he had a lot of impact on people’s lives.”

The scholarship is funded in part by the annual Peter Zornes Memorial Golf Tournament, which is held every summer at the Colfax Golf Course and Country Club in Colfax, Washington. This year the Zornes Memorial Golf Tournament will be Saturday, July 8.

Like Zornes, Sciarrotta and Shirali are both heavily involved neuroscience research, and both plan on attending medical school.

In associate professor Travis Brown’s lab, Shirali, studies diet-induced obesity, with plans of joining a MD-PhD program that offers research aspects as well as clinical experience. Sciarrotta, an aspiring pediatrician, conducts research in associate professor Ryan McLaughlin’s lab, where her work focuses on voluntary cannabis vapor exposure in a translationally relevant model

They said Zornes’ drive to conduct neuroscience research he was passionate about is something they both want for their careers.

“When I was going through the research papers Peter contributed to, the most inspiring thing was he wasn’t afraid to delve into anywhere he knew he could help,” Sciarrotta said. “He was somebody that, at his core, got into neuroscience because he really cared. That’s kind of the relationship with research that I hope to have.”

Learn more about Peter Zornes and make a gift to the Peter A. Zornes Memorial Neuroscience Scholarship.