Thom Allen, B.A.

Mr. Allen, study director and web survey specialist, is responsible for implementing and managing survey research projects at SESRC. He has served as project director for survey methods research at the center over the past two decades and is expert at administering multi-mode data collection projects. Mr. Allen has years of experience applying visual design principles to web and paper/pencil surveys. He has also spent the past ten years at SESRC managing software development activities for the Washington State Department of Transportation Commute Trip Reduction project. Prior to becoming a study director Mr. Allen served as a survey supervisor and data collection manager. He has a … » More …

Kent Miller, M.A.

Kent Miller, with the SESRC since 1992, has a M.A. in Sociology. He has held many positions with the center including Program Operation Lead, Project Manager, Data Collection Supervisor, and Research Survey Supervisor. Kent leads the Project Management unit.  In his role as a Project Manager, he is responsible for client interactions, project planning, developing questionnaires, respondent correspondence, and other related survey materials. He is also responsible for managing complex mixed-mode projects including telephone, paper, and web-based surveys. He completes projects by preparing data reports that describe survey background, project processes, and survey results.

Nathan Palmer, M.S.

Nathan Palmer has been working at the SESRC since 2012 and earned a Masters of Science in Statistics that same year. Mr. Palmer is responsible for the management and storage of all data files. In that responsibility, Mr. Palmer manages and clean the data files during the data collection period, then finalizes the dataset. Mr. Palmer also advises project directors and clients on the design, programming and interpretation of analysis; and reports on various aspects of the collected data.

Dan Vakoch, M.S.

Dan Vakoch has an M.S. in Zoology, and has worked with SESRC since 1993. Dan Vakoch has over 21 years of survey research analysis experience. As a Scientific Programmer and Data Analyst, Mr. Vakoch is responsible for SAS programming and statistical analysis on projects. Mr. Vakoch had served as a SAS, statistical, and data analyses consultant at Washington State University’s Statistics Department for more than 10 years.


WSU President Dr, Glenn Terrell first spoke with Dr. James F. Short, Jr., Professor of Sociology and Dean of the Graduate School about creating a social science research center at WSU. With $25,000 of funding from the Associated Students of WSU the Social Research Center (SRC) was started in 1970 with office space and a Public Opinion Laboratory located in Cleveland Hall.

WSU Campus


Racism Workshops

Our inaugural study surveyed random samples of four groups: WSU students, faculty, and staff, and local townspeople. Guided by a 3-page script, those first interviewers were instructed to “Be nice! Do not hang up,” if “a person becomes incensed, uses foul language, goes on tirade, etc.” After four days of telephone calls in our new Public Opinion Lab (POL), these pioneers achieved an 85% rate of response – a feat practically unheard of in these modern times! Among the key findings, this first study revealed a wide range of local support for the university workshops on racism.

Racism Workshop Results» More …

Division of Labor

By 1971, we took on other survey projects from within the WSU campus, including surveys on student political participation and an evaluation of drug use on campus. Within five years the SRC had expanded to include four distinct research and training units:

The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit, led by Dr. Warren Garlington; Department of Psychology. The Criminal Justice Research Unit, led by Dr. Benjamin Menke; Department of Criminal Justice. The Human Values Research Unit, led by Dr. Milton Rokeach; Departments of Sociology and Psychology. The Aging Research Unit, led by Dr. Gary Lee; Department of Sociology


In 1975 the SRC moved to Wilson Hall (now Wilson-Short) and in 1984 the Board of Regents broadened its scope, changing the name to the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC). World renowned rural sociologist and survey methods expert Dr. Don Dillman became SESRC’s director in 1985, significantly expanding the scope of survey activities (SESRC Director 1985-1995).

In 1978 Dr. Dillman published his book, Mail and Telephone Surveys: The Total Design Method. Four editions later, this text is still the definitive work in the field of survey methodology.




A memorable project in the eyes of then director, Dr. James F. Short, was a student survey surrounding an incident known as “Butchgate.” In 1978 WSU’s live cougar mascot, Butch VI, passed away leaving the WSU community with the dilemma of locating another live cougar.

Student concern surrounding the welfare of the large cat mascots raised the question of whether a live mascot was necessary. The survey, sponsored by ASWSU’s Environmental Task Force Committee, revealed that 63% of students opposed using a live cougar to replace Butch VI. As a result, WSU President Glenn Terrell ended the tradition and our current mascot, Butch T. Cougar, was born!

February 2015

Alyssa was selected as the Interviewer of the Month for February by her supervisors.  Alyssa has been with the Center since July 2014. Alyssa does a great job communicating the importance of the study with respondents, stating, “I enjoy having the opportunity to interact with a variety of people. Many of the surveys I have worked on have been related to my major and career goals, so it has been very informative and exciting to learn more about social sciences.”  Alyssa is a Human Development major specializing in family studies. Her career goals include wanting to work in the nonprofit sector/grant writing, as well as work … » More …