RICHLAND, Wash. – Individuals are encouraged to nominate distinguished female students, staff, faculty members, alumnae or community members who have made notable contributions to the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus through service, teaching or involvement.

Women of Distinction plaquesThe deadline to nominate for WSU Tri-Cities’ Women of Distinction program is March 26. Individuals should submit their nominations at https://tricities.wsu.edu/women-of-distinction/.

“We have incredible female leaders and mentors here at WSU Tri-Cities and in the community that both move the university forward and make our region, state and nation a better place,” he said. “I’m excited to welcome nominations for our next class of talented and distinguished female individuals who continue to set an incredible example in our community.”

The selection committee welcomes nominations of women who meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • Exhibits leadership in her discipline or area of expertise
  • Serves as role models and/or mentors to other women
  • Advocates for positive social change that helps close the leadership gap and create a more equitable society
  • Demonstrates a commitment to the missions of WSU Tri-Cities
  • Demonstrates a commitment to social justice and inclusion
  • Has earned respect within their communities
  • Supports policies, practices, attitudes, and/or actions that are intended to produce equitable outcomes for all
  • Gives back to the community through their time, talent, and/or resources

The honorees will be recognized at a photo exhibition and opening reception at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2018, in the CIC Art Gallery.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Join Washington State University Tri-Cities for a social evening of exquisite wine and food on April 14 as part of the Crimson Food and Wine Classic at Hamilton Cellars and proceeds will go to the university’s hospitality business management and wine business management programs.

Crimson Food Classic at Hamilton CellarsThe evening will begin at 6 p.m. at Hamilton Cellars, 55410 N Sunset Rd. in Benton City, Washington, and will feature six Hamilton wines paired with dishes developed by WSU Pullman lead chef Jamie Callison and WSU students that integrate local and season tastes and flavors.

“It will be an excellent evening of examining and showcasing not only one of our region’s accomplished wineries, but also the hospitality and wine expertise of our WSU Tri-Cities students,” said Robert Harrington, academic director of the WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business. “It should be a fun night of food, wine and social networking, as well as an excellent opportunity to get to know some of our accomplished students.”

During the event, students will also present food pairings, manage the silent auction and interact with guests. An example pairing is house-smoked salmon bacon served with roasted Northwest beets, WSU Cougar Gold Cheese, blushing beet stems and paired with 2013 Hamilton Cellars, Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Franc.Crimson Food and Wine Classic at Hamilton Cellars

“We are so excited to taste the food that Chef Jamie and his students are preparing to pair with our wines,” said Stacie Hamilton, one of the owners of Hamilton Cellars. “Chef Jamie is an amazing chef with an exquisite palate, so we are expecting a magical experience.”

The cost is $75 per person on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets may be purchased at https://formtool.wsu.edu/ccb/Signup/index.castle?formid=33.

For more information, contact Deanne Pilkenton at 509-372-7264 or Deanne.pilkenton@wsu.edu.

Richland, Wash. – Anthony’s Restaurants will host the WSU Blended Learning Spring Release Party at Budd’s Broiler at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 28. The public is invited to attend.

WSU viticulture and enology student Melanie Ford pours a glass of wine during last year's Blended Learning release party at Budd's Broiler.

WSU viticulture and enology student Melanie Ford pours a glass of wine during last year’s Blended Learning release party at Budd’s Broiler.

Event registration is $125 and includes a wine tasting reception, followed by a four-course dinner prepared by Anthony’s culinary team and expertly paired with wines from some of Washington’s most esteemed wineries. Tickets are available online.

During the tasting reception, guests will be treated to the exclusive, first samples of new WSU Blended Learning student-made wines poured by WSU Viticulture & Enology (V&E) students.

Blended Learning is a V&E class offered to students each semester.  This student winemaking project supports hands-on learning by pairing students with local growers and winemakers who collaborate on all aspects of the winemaking process.

Newly released wines included:

2018 Dry Rosé
Partner Vineyard & Winery: Ancient Lake Wine Company, Columbia Valley

Wine and was released during last year's Blended Learning release party at Budd's Broiler.

WSU wine that was released during last year’s Blended Learning release party at Budd’s Broiler.

2016 GSM
Partner Vineyard: Hattrup Farms, Elephant Mountain
Partner Winery: Bookwalter

2015 Durif
Partner Vineyard & Winery: Kiona Vineyards, Red Mountain

This is the third year in a row that Anthony’s has hosted a fundraising event where 100 percent of funds raised support the WSU V&E Program. To date, Anthony’s has helped raise close to $50,000! Their continued support provides funds for lab modifications and new equipment at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center in Richland, Wash.


Kaury Balcom, WSU viticulture and enology communication & pubic relations coordinator, 509-372-7223, kaury.balcom@wsu.edu

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. –  A Washington State University Tri-Cities education professor has partnered with her father, a software engineer, to develop a fun and hands-on educational tool that will allow students to virtually explore geographic areas, expand their spatial awareness skills and improve overall geoliteracy.

Students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School use PuzzleMap as a classroom resource

Students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School use PuzzleMap as a classroom resource.

National Geographic defines geoliteracy as “the ability to use geographic understanding and geographic reasoning to make far-reaching decisions.” Sarah Newcomer, assistant professor of literacy education at WSU Tri-Cities, said students use the skill in a range of academic fields, in addition to everyday life.

That is why she and her father, Fred Newcomer, created the program, PuzzleMap, which features moveable map elements with interactive clues and images to expand the user’s knowledge of any geographic area.

“With this project, we’re really looking at how this tool supports kids in developing their geographic literacy and spatial reasoning, as there are many kids who prefer to learn that way,” Sarah Newcomer said. “Not all kids may be successful with pencils and paper. It’s a different way of learning and approaching the material, as well as a different modality that they can learn through.”

From GIS to integrated classroom technology

Fred Newcomer spent a year developing the platform. He said he wanted to use his years of experience with geographic information systems in the public safety sector to help address global environmental concerns. The project quickly showed its value for elementary students, thanks to the advisement of his daughter.

A student uses PuzzleMap at Marcus Whitman Elementary School

A student uses PuzzleMap at Marcus Whitman Elementary School.

“My initial intent was to simply make something that other people might find interesting and enjoy doing,” he said. “Games like Tetris, Candy Crush and Pokemon Go have attracted many juvenile and adult players, but they don’t really offer any secondary benefit … When Sarah first saw PuzzleMap, she immediately suggested that it could be a valuable classroom tool.”

Sarah Newcomer worked with her father to create a PuzzleMap of the United States specifically for use at the elementary school level. Students use the program to complete a puzzle by placing a state in its correct spot on a blank map. The individual pieces also feature useful facts ranging from population, to climate, to key industries in each region, which the students can use as clues.

Success in the classroom

This year, Sarah Newcomer and Jonah Firestone, assistant professor of science education and assessment, partnered with two fifth-grade classes at Marcus Whitman Elementary School in Richland and a fifth-grade class at Barbara McClintock STEM Elementary School in Pasco to assess PuzzleMap’s effectiveness in the classroom.

Although data analysis is in the preliminary stages, Newcomer said an initial review of the results indicate that the program helped students retain information at a greater rate than if they hadn’t used the program – and typically by a wide margin.

“We hypothesized that the group that supplemented their regular curriculum with Puzzle map would do better, but we didn’t plan for just how well they would do,” she said. “It just goes to show that adding supplemental resources with the regular curriculum can provide a huge benefit to students.”

Excitement for learning

Most of the students participating in the study said they loved using the program. Students enjoyed exploring both states that were unfamiliar, as well as their favorite states. Other students said they enjoyed competing with themselves to improve their proficiency score.

McKenzie Munn speaks with students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School

McKenzie Munn, a fifth-grade teacher at Marcus Whitman Elementary School, speaks with a couple of her students. Her class was one of the first group to test the viability of PuzzleMap in the classroom.

“I can place all of the states on the map in 1 minute and 40 seconds,” said Divine Salazar, a fifth-grade student at Marcus Whitman. “I even got an app on my phone to study it at home, too.”

McKenzie Munn, a fifth-grade teacher at Marcus Whitman Elementary, said students were more engaged with their geographic curriculum when they completed PuzzleMap in conjunction with their given material.

“This resource is a tool that we can use to supplement everything we were already planning on teaching,” she said. “It is not a replacement and not going to change the way we do social studies, but it is just going to make it better.”

Trevor Dunstan, a technology specialist at McClintock agreed, noting the program “would be an excellent resource for working hands-on with different content areas.”

Future of PuzzleMap

Fred Newcomer said he plans to continue working with his daughter to develop more PuzzleMap content for elementary students and on adding features that will facilitate classroom use. He is currently developing a variety of PuzzleMap ideas to raise environmental awareness, promote public spaces and market regional products. The platform is also being used to highlight the complexities of legislative districting.

The program is available now for schools and other organizations to use. For more information on PuzzleMap and related technology resources, visit https://www.spheraware.com/.

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Two teams at Washington State University Tri-Cities have partnered with Washington River Protection Solutions to procure and program an autonomous vehicle and develop a form of ultra high-performance concrete to help protect workers in radioactive areas at the Hanford Site and safely immobilize solid secondary wastes.

Srinivas Allena and students

Engineering professor Srinivas Allena and students work with in the concrete lab at WSU Tri-Cities.

WRPS is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tank Operations contractor responsible for managing Hanford’s 56 million gallons of highly radioactive waste and preparing it for delivery to the Waste Treatment Plant on the site. The partnership for the projects will provide WRPS with customized technology to fit their needs, in addition to further improving the safety capabilities of its employees and environmental impact stemming from the tank farms at the Hanford Site.

Robotics to analyze radioactive vapors

WRPS provided a WSU team with an initial contract to procure and program an autonomous vehicle that would be used for measuring vapors, or chemical gases, within the tank farms.

The WSU team consists of Akram Hossain, vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and external programs; Scott Hudson, professor of electrical engineering; John Miller, associate professor of computer science; and Changki Mo, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The team plans to purchase a pre-fabricated, compact and programmable vehicle, which has the capacity to hold 40-50 pounds of equipment. The team will then eventually outfit, customize and program the vehicle for its desired purpose within the tank farms. The vehicle must be able to follow a defined path, dock itself to charge its battery, withstand long-term use, be able to run autonomously, as well as allow manual override operations.

“This vehicle will be going into areas, minimizing personnel entries, so we need to assure that it can operate reliably and it won’t break down,” Miller said “We have to make certain that the quality is of impeccable standards and that the system can demonstrate operational longevity in these areas.”

The design of the autonomous vehicle marks the first phase of what will potentially turn into a multi-phase project. WRPS has also expressed interest in having the robot detect obstacles in a changing environment, change filters at the site and monitor radiation. Miller said those challenges will most-likely be addressed in future phases of the project.

“This is a great opportunity, both for WSU, as well as for our students,” Miller said. “It creates opportunities for undergraduate research, as well as providing funding for graduate research. It is the perfect opportunity for us.”

The team plans to have the first phase of the autonomous vehicle completed and demonstrated to WRPS in the next few months. The team will conduct demonstrations and additional phases of development over the course of the year. When fully developed, the autonomous vehicle would be deployed in tank farms to support construction and operations.

Ultra high-performance concrete to encapsulate nuclear waste

Srinivas Allena, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, received a contract to develop an ultra-high performance cementitious

Cementitious material created by Srinivas Allena and his team

Cementitious material created by Srinivas Allena and his team at WSU Tri-Cities.

material to potentially be used as a grout to encapsulate solid secondary waste from the Hanford tank farms.

“WRPS is currently using a grout that they obtain from a local concrete supplier, which uses a regular cement mix with sand and some other chemical additives,” Allena said. “But the goal with our research is to use locally available materials to create a composite with low permeability, superior durability and greater stability that would perform at the same level as the commercially available pre-packaged ultra high-performance concrete.”

Allena said there is currently limited types of ultra high-performance concrete available on the market with high operational costs associated with use of the material. He said by using locally available materials and by optimizing mixture constituents with those that are more environmentally friendly with his team’s composite, however, they would be able to keep the costs low, while maintaining the same quality in the concrete and reducing the impact to the environment.

“We will be able to compare our grout materials with properties that WRPS is currently using and show the improved properties,” he said. “The goal is to provide a cheaper, more environmentally friendly option that will compete with the best product on the market.”

The team plans to have initial mixtures ready with their mechanical and durability properties evaluated by September.

The projects are a part of solving some of the world’s Grand Challenges. They pertain particularly to developing sustainable resources and smart systems by harnessing technology to improve quality of life. The projects are also in line with WSU’s Drive to 25.

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. – Organizations and private individuals from throughout the Columbia Basin joined together last month to support the future of regional business, but not in the traditional sense.

Ryan Leaf speaks as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony's at Columbia Point in Richland

Ryan Leaf speaks as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony’s at Columbia Point in Richland.

The dollars didn’t go toward supporting new up-and-coming businesses, building facade renovations, or promoting the next booming business product. Rather, the $36,695 raised at Point to Success brunch event will benefit the Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Carson College of Business. The college will use the funds to support classroom innovation, student academic services and career success activities, and faculty research.

In support of the event, Anthony’s at Columbia Point donated its entire restaurant space, a first-class meal and service for the mid-morning event that welcomed more than 100 people. Other businesses and individuals donated wine for a wine grab at the event, lavish vacation packages, rounds of golf and tours and tastings from local wineries, all of which were auctioned to benefit the Carson College.

McCurley Integrity Dealerships sponsored the appearance of Cougar football great Ryan Leaf at the brunch, who shared his inspiring story of overcoming years of drug abuse to now supporting others in the recovery process. The aspect of community, Leaf said, was crucial to his recovery.

Alaska Airlines, The Lodge at Columbia Point, Abadan, Hampton Inn Seattle Southcenter, NewEdge and Bonsai Audio also gave generously by making Leaf’s trip to the Tri-Cities and stay possible and by sponsoring the costs of the event programs, signage and sound equipment.

“The community support we have seen through the years is truly incredible, given the significant drop over the last decade of state funding that supports the University,” said Robert Harrington, director of the WSU Tri-Cities academic program. “Community support allows us to continue providing a premier education our students will use to provide first-class service in the business sector.”

It just makes sense

For Mike Tvedt, general manager of Anthony’s at Columbia Point, investing in the future of wine and hospitality business just makes sense. Investing in the

A chef cooks an entry that was served as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony's at Columbia Point in Richland

A chef cooks an entry that was served as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony’s at Columbia Point in Richland.

education of future business leaders, ensures students are well-prepared with premier business knowledge, research-driven business methods and a mindset for success, he said.

“The reason we got involved with the Carson College of Business was because of the hospitality program moving to WSU Tri-Cities a couple of years ago,” he said. “It goes back to the founder and owner of our company, Budd Gould, who believes it is important to give back to the community. It seemed like a natural fit that we would be involved with the program and do what we can to make it successful, because we are always in need of great hospitality employees.”

The Point to Success brunch isn’t the only way that Anthony’s has given back to a WSU Tri-Cities program, either. Anthony’s Restaurants own the next-door Budd’s Broiler, which holds the annual release party for the WSU Blended Learning wines. Through the Blended Learning program, wine science students partner with local wineries to produce premier wines. Budd’s Broiler donates the space, service and food for the event each year.

The family-owned-and-operated Anthony’s Restaurants are well-known across the Pacific Northwest for their first-class service, premier food and exceptional standards. But in order to continue that legacy, and even further improve upon their hospitality service, Tvedt said they must prepare those who will lead the business on into the future.

“We strive for five-star service and a five-star experience because that is what people expect,” Tvedt said. “We want to make sure that the future of our business is prepared and has the knowledge and know-how to meet those standards. WSU Tri-Cities is helping us meet that need.”

Impact on the community 

A Carson College Coug herself, Hamilton Cellars owner Stacie Hamilton said her WSU business education has benefited her own business success. In turn, she gives

Hamilton Cellars owners at WSU Tri-Cities Wine and Jazz event

Stacie Hamilton (right), one of the owners of Hamilton Cellars, has used her degree from the Carson of College of Business in her own business.

back to the WSU Tri-Cities business program, not only as a business owner, but also as an advisory member for the Carson College and as an adjunct faculty member at WSU Tri-Cities, because she knows the return will be tenfold for the local community.

In addition to giving monetarily to events like the Point to Success Brunch and donating Hamilton Cellars wine and products, Hamilton creates real-world learning opportunities for students at the winery.

“In addition to classroom education, WSU students require the real-world practical experience, which they get through internships, jobs in local business and generally through mentors in their business field,” she said. “They apply that combined knowledge to develop businesses of their own or grow established businesses. The reciprocity between the community and the university is special.”

Looking to the future

Harrington said the support the Carson College of Businesses has received from community

Robert Harrington (left) and Pauline Garza, a recent graduate of the Carson College of Business

Robert Harrington (left) and Pauline Garza, a recent graduate of the Carson College of Business. Garza is now the head chef at The Lodge at Columbia Point.

individuals and organizations will have an immediate and lasting impact on the future of businesses across the state.

“WSU’s business programs consistently rank among the top programs in the country, and the community support has been a crucial component,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our community support.”

WSU’s hospitality business program, specifically, ranks eighth in the nation among all programs, nationwide. Harrington said the Tri-Cities-based program, being in the heart of Washington wine country, has the potential to grow immensely and be a huge treasure for the regional business community.

“We strive for excellence across the board, and it shows in our graduates,” he said. “We aim to produce the best business graduates so that our community and their businesses may benefit.”

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Hanford History Project will celebrate Black History Month on Saturday, Feb. 3, through a kick-off event for a project that will document African American History at the Hanford Site.

The event, which runs 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Richland Public Library, will feature a 45-minute presentation by speakers from the National Park Service, the African American Community Cultural and Education Society, the Hanford History Project and more.

Speakers will discuss the goals of the WSU and National Parks Service civil rights oral history project, the work being done in the community regarding the documentation of African American history in the area, as well as make an announcement of a new survey project taking place in East Pasco regarding African American History. Individuals will also be invited to participate in the oral history project documenting African American life at the Hanford Site.

Individuals will then be invited to mingle, enjoy refreshments and learn more about the civil rights oral history project, as well as set up interviews for the project. Posters displaying life for African American workers at the Hanford Site will also be on display.

The Hanford History Project received a grant from the National Park Service recently to analyze the experience of African Americans at Hanford, as well as research and document African American migration, immigration and settlement before and after coming to Hanford. Hanford History Project staff are looking to interview African American individuals who had some experience of the Hanford Site at the time of the Manhattan Project or in the years after.

“We hope to talk to anyone who worked at Hanford or resided in the Tri-Cities from 1943 up through the late 1960s,” said Michael Mays, director of the Hanford History Project. “We want to understand, in better detail and scope, what the experiences were of these individuals from a personal angle.”

Appointment times will be available for those who wish to schedule oral history interviews and information will be provided regarding scheduling interviews with friends or families not able to attend.

For more information on the event, and to participate in the oral history project, contact Jillian Gardner-Andrews at j.gardner-andrews@wsu.edu, or visit https://tricities.wsu.edu/hanfordhistory/.

By Maegan Murray

During the couple of weeks that artist and urban planner Sarah Kavage was at Washington State University Tri-Cities this fall, she had quite the busy schedule.

She met with students about her life as an artist and urban planner, provided an in-depth and hands-on look at her works and presented about her efforts in improving communities by introducing art and culture.

Artist Sarah Kavage lectures to students during her residency at WSU Tri-Cities

Artist Sarah Kavage presents to students about an art project she completed in recent years involving the uses of thousands of pounds of flour she had purchased and the discussions she was able to bring about on access to food and other related areas through the project.

But in addition to what she was able to bring to the students and community of the Tri-Cities through her artistic experience, she also had the opportunity to gain some cultural knowledge of the area and explore possible future art installations as part of her own professional repertoire.

Kavage’s visit was part of the new Cultural Capital Residency Program at WSU Tri-Cities, which is the brain child of Peter Christenson, artist and WSU Tri-Cities fine arts and digital technology and culture professor.

An enhanced scholastic experience

Christenson said his goal with the residency program, which kicked off this fall, is to introduce artists and other scholars to the Tri-Cities community with the goal of expanding upon traditional learning opportunities typically held in a university setting. Through the program, scholars with backgrounds ranging from the arts, to engineering, to urban planning, to social work, temporarily live in a living learning community among WSU Tri-Cities students, which is located adjacent to campus.

At the living learning community, the scholars participate in community dinners, discussion sessions and generally interact with the students in the living learning communities. Additionally, the scholars hold open informational office hours at WSU Tri-Cities where they welcome interaction with students on campus, complete art and other creative projects with classes at WSU Tri-Cities, present guest lectures to the students and Tri-Cities community, in addition to using the experience as a means to explore and learn more about the Tri-Cities.

Visiting scholar Sarah Kavage talks to students about a recent art project she completed that involved vegetation braiding. The students then had the chance to try out the technique for themselves.

Visiting scholar Sarah Kavage talks to students about an eco-art project she completed. The students then had the chance to try out some of the techniques for the project, themselves.

“With the Cultural Capital Scholar Residency program, we wanted to enhance the educational model,” Christenson said. “We want to give exposure to a variety of research agendas and forms of scholarship. Through this program, we get to pick from an international scope of scholars. This way, students get access to a broad range of scholarship.”

Giving back, giving forward

Kavage marked the second scholar to participate in the residency program at WSU Tri-Cities. Her work centers around place, history and ecology. The first scholar was multimedia artist and communicator Laurel Terlesky, whose work examines the use of technology to communicate and build relationships.

Kavage said she had participated in residency programs prior to completing her experience at WSU Tri-Cities, but that this was the first time she had the opportunity to have in-depth interactions with university students.

“It is always wonderful to have people to pass your knowledge on to who are interested in sharing and learning about your work,” she said. “I appreciated the dialogue that we had. Some of what I did in Allison Matthews’ environmental psychology class was asking students about their perceptions of this area, given its history with Hanford. I also had the opportunity to work with students on an eco-art project. It’s been an awesome experience.”

Kavage said one of the things that drew her to the residency program at WSU Tri-Cities was the Tri-Cities’ cultural and historical ties to the Hanford Site.

“Being here and doing the tours of the B Reactor and Hanford site has given me a much better insight into this area,” she said. “There is a lot here. It is a really complex place with a lot of big history. It provides great opportunity, artistically.”

As part of the residency experience at WSU Tri-Cities, every scholar is required to submit an art piece or other works back to the university that becomes part of a collection hosted by WSU Tri-Cities. The piece can consist of something they created while they were at WSU, or it could consist of something they had created, prior. Kavage submitted some sketches about possible art installations that could one-day take shape at the Hanford site.

Diversity of scholars and benefit to students

Christenson has a selection of scholars that will participate in the residency program in the coming year. Those individuals include photographer June Tay Sanders, sculptor and multimedia artist John Henry, multimedia artist Tra Bouscaren and milliner Jean Hicks.

The variety and diversity of the artists and scholars selected for the program is important, Christenson said, as it encourages diversity of thought, opinion and sharing of ideas among WSU Tri-Cities students and overall Tri-Cities community.

“The students in our community are really diverse,” he said. “Part of a role of a university is to expose our students to a diversity of views, opinions and ideas. Bringing these folks here gives us all an opportunity to think about the world differently, projects differently and our place and community from a different paradigm.”

Student Jessica Roth said the experience of having a visiting scholar, particularly in the arts, proved to be a major benefit to her academic experience at WSU Tri-Cities. She said she enjoys the fact that the artists come to campus, from not only around the country, but from around the world, and that it adds diversity to their studies.

“This exchange of ideas and exposure to different types of successful working artists and their practice is a huge benefit to students because it helps them navigate their own career paths by exploring many creative professional options,” Roth said.

“The diversity in the resident artists, their works and the creative paths that their careers took helps to expand the artistic perspective of our students and lend insight into the endless ways an artist’s work can be culturally informed, unique and successful,” she said.

For more information on the Cultural Capital Scholar Residency Program at WSU Tri-Cities, contact Christenson at peter.christenson@wsu.edu.

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – An elementary statistics in psychology course at Washington State University Tri-Cities partnered with Grace Clinic, a free health clinic in the Tri-Cities, to assess the mental health of its diabetic patients. The clinic now plans to use the data to maintain and improve its methods in meeting patient resources and health needs.

WSU Tri-Cities students talk with Grace Clinic leadership about the resources they offer through the clinic

WSU Tri-Cities students talk with Grace Clinic leadership about the resources they offer through the clinic.

Throughout the fall semester course, the students analyzed the clinic’s diabetic patient A1C score data, which indicates the degree to which patients have their diabetes under control, and used a range of statistical assessments to determine the mental health of patients based on several potential barriers to treatment – some of which include age, race, language spoken and gender. They presented their results this month to Mark Brault, Grace Clinic’s chief executive officer, and clinic director Avonte Jackson.

The experience proved beneficial to both the clinic and the students.

“I believe that the students gained a lot of insight from this project –  into themselves, the field and their community,” said Janet Peters, clinical assistant professor of psychology and instructor of the course. “The project also gave them a very marketable skillset related to quantitative literacy, social responsibility and communication skills.”

For the Grace Clinic, the main benefit is that the data provides support for some of the patterns they had been informally observing and the leg work to accomplish the analysis of that data, Peters said.

“Larger health organizations have people to do this kind of thing,” Brault said. “We have limited resources for this kind of in-depth analysis. We plan to use this data as we move forward.”

Student findings

Through their analysis, the students found that the clinic was doing an excellent job of creating access to health care. They determined that there was no definitive statistical differences in the observed mental health of their patients based on potential barriers to treatment such as primary language spoken and race.

Grace Clinic CEO Mark Brault takes WSU Tri-Cities students on a tour of the clinic

Grace Clinic CEO Mark Brault takes WSU Tri-Cities students on a tour of the clinic.

The students did find, however, that there was a slight negative correlation between age and mental health, meaning that older patients reported slightly lower levels of mental health than younger patients, overall.

During her presentation, student Lindsay Bernesky recommended that the clinic leaders dedicate additional time to educating patients about the mental health services offered.

Impact on Grace Clinic

Both Brault and Jackson said the student presentations were informative and confirmed many of the things that their staff had suspected, but hadn’t had the time to dive into and assess.

“It is nice to have some statistical analysis to confirm many of these things,” Jackson said.

Grace Clinic CEO Mark Brault presents to WSU Tri-Cities psychology students about the clinic and the services they offer

Grace Clinic CEO Mark Brault presents to WSU Tri-Cities psychology students about the clinic and the services they offer.

She also said the clinic plans to follow up on the mental health gap for their elderly patients, and that it has already started to introduce some additional services for that population.

“One of the gaps we recently discovered is that there is limited access to mental health services for Medicare patients,” she told the students. “We recently added patients with Medicare to our mental health area,” which affirms some of the student findings.

Brault said the clinic also is adding additional safety nets and services to support patient mental health throughout their clinic. In addition to seeing a physician, a scheduled health visit might also include seeing a mental health professional.

“It was good to hear that a lot of what we’re doing is working, and that a lot of what we’re putting in place will serve the needs of our patients,” Brault said.

Real-world benefit to students

Many of the students said they enjoyed the real-world aspect of the course and that it provided a greater understanding of statistical analysis in psychology research.

“I can read through a case study and understand all of the terminology and be able to fully understand the results,” student Nagat Deng said.

“To know that we took a burden off of them and that we are giving back in that way is amazing,” student Caitlyn Carroll said.

Student Martha Herrera said she appreciated that the real-world experience was interwoven with regular course material, which allowed students to work as a team.

“Dr. Peters gave us this opportunity to do something that would be beneficial for the community,” she said. “I think it is awesome that we have that opportunity here at WSU.”

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. – Students in a computer science capstone course at Washington State University Tri-Cities have partnered with Cypherpath, a local software company, to develop a platform that will help companies, both large and small, easily set-up, safeguard and better monitor their online business network.

Cypherpath logoAs the world of technology moves into a more cloud-based platform, information technology departments and companies are looking for ways to better convert, safeguard and maintain their cyber security infrastructure. Ways of capturing their online information and turning it into a completely digital platform, however, can be difficult, as it may require a lot of manpower, time, equipment and funds.

What the students are helping Cypherpath achieve is a platform that would allow companies to seamlessly capture their network information, which would then be used to autonomously create a company network. In the case of a cyber attack, the user could then go back and see exactly what happened, and if disrupted, seamlessly recreate the infrastructure that was damaged or lost.

Scope of the project

The group working with Cypherpath on the project includes students Logan Wickham, Andrew Tolman and Matthew Harris, all of which are completing the project as part of a senior design computer science course at WSU Tri-Cities. Cypherpath’s Chief Technology Officer Steve Silva and Philip Tilton, the company’s chief engineer, are both mentoring the students for the project.

Computer science students post with their project poster during the undergraduate research symposium

Computer science students (from left) Logan Wickham, Andrew Tolman and Matthew Harris post for a photo with their poster on the project they are completing in partnership with Cypherpath, a local software company in the Tri-Cities.

“We wanted the students to focus on a real customer problem that could be mentored in parallel to our development teams,” Tilton said. “We scoped the project in such a way that they could demonstrably show success with an initial end-to-end solution.”

Tolman said the ability to recreate a network has big potential for many organizations that have and deal with cybersecurity.

“In IT, there is a great demand to virtualize infrastructure to reduce the costs,” he said. “You can pay people to do this, or you can pay to have a system do it for you.”

Creating and refining the platform

Wickham said with their system, instead of having individuals to physically go in and create the network from scratch, their system would accomplish the same feat seamlessly and autonomously.

“It is all digitized and automated,” he said. “With cyber security, it also allows us to see when a cyber attack is happening and also allows us to feel out a dangerous area and seamlessly copy a system.”

The group is in the first phase of the project. They spent this fall semester building the program and will spend the following semester refining and adding other elements to complete the software.

“A viable network is what we intend as we move forward,” Harris said. “Anybody running large-scale networks would be interested in this technology.”

A partnership that prepares students for success in computer science

The partnership with Cyperpath resulted out of Brian Lamarche, the instructor for the course, reaching out to local industry members about possible real-world projects for their students to complete as a senior design final project.

“I reached out to a few colleagues I’ve worked with and many agreed to provide us with a project and also be the technical mentors for the project,” he said.

Lamarche said what is exiting about the group’s project is that it will be viable for companies ranging from small to large.

“This company provides a simplified system that cuts costs for many companies,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for our students because they’re a local organization and their project could have a large impact.”

The software the students are completing is an entirely new platform, but one that will exist between two existing systems for Cypherpath, aiding in their overall efforts to meet regional, state and national company networking needs.

“The students’ project will enable our customers to discover and bring existing infrastructure definitions directly into Cypherpath’s Software Defined Infrastructure Operating System, where they can provision, copy, share and management infrastructure on-demand,” Silva said. “This project has also introduced us to talented individuals who could someday join Cypherpath’s mission.”

The students will present their project to Cypherpath in April. The goal with their software, Tolman said, is to hopefully open it up through Cypherpath as an open source so that anybody can use it.