By Kaury Balcom, Wine Science Center

RICHLAND, Wash. – A free talk about using sensors and digital mapping to track vineyard health will be offered 4:15-5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Washington State University Wine Science Center, 359 University Dr., Richland.

To register, visit or call 509-372-7224. For more information, contact Kaury Balcom, 509-372-7223 or, or Michelle Moyer, 509-786-9234 or

Terry Bates, director of the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab, will discuss using sensors in the vineyard to gather measurements of soil, crop and canopy conditions. These can be used to identify weaknesses and enhance the ability to predict crop size, yield and quality across an entire vineyard.

Bates is a national leader in juice grape research and extension. His efforts focus on understanding how the environment affects vine productivity and how to adapt practices in the vineyard to improve farm efficiency and profitability.

The free event is part of the Ravenholt Lecture Series, which brings grape industry professionals to WSU to share their research and professional perspective. The series is made possible through an endowment from the Albert R. Ravenholt Foundation.


News media contacts:
Michelle Moyer, WSU viticulture extension, 509-786-9234,
Kaury Balcom, WSU viticulture and enology, 509-572-5540,

PULLMAN, Wash. – Twenty-five Washington State University students at Pullman, Tri-Cities and Vancouver have received $1,000 awards for 2016-17 from the Office of Undergraduate Research for scholarly and creative projects.

Results of research by students and faculty mentors will be displayed at the annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) in March.

Students seeking undergraduate research awards for fall 2017 can apply on the Office of Undergraduate Research website until Feb. 1. For more information 28126684276_17f9a34439_zabout undergraduate research, visit

“Supporting undergraduates in their research aligns with our land-grant university’s key emphases,” said Shelley Pressley, director of the office. “We are fortunate to have generous alumni and friends whose gifts have enhanced the academic experience of hundreds of students.”

The Scott and Linda Carson Undergraduate Research Endowed Excellence Fund was established by these alumni in 2013. The Auvil Scholars Fellowship began in 2006 with a gift from the estates of Grady and Lillie Auvil, Wenatchee tree-fruit entrepreneurs.

Carson Fellows for 2016-17
Holly Lane, organic agriculture systems and agricultural biotechnology major, mentored by Michael Neff
Brett Merritt, mechanical engineering at WSU Vancouver, Hua Tan

Auvil Fellows for 2016-17
Madison Armstrong, a biology major mentored by Mark Dybdahl
Sierra Bishop, chemistry and material science engineering, Cliff Berkman
Andrew Cannon, physics, Jeffrey McMahon
Grace Carrell, microbiology, Alan Goodman

Zachary Croft, physics, Jeffery McMahon
Casandra Evans, mechanical engineering, Jacob Leachman
Joseph Hall, bioengineering, David Lin
Zachary Howard, genetics and cell biology, Alan Goodman

Ashley Huynh, biology and Spanish, Omar Cornejo
Brennan Hyden, agricultural biotechnology, Amit Dhingra
Estifanos Kassa, microbiology, Rey Carabeo
Elizabeth Magill, zoology, William Snyder

Marina Martin, biochemistry pre-medicine, Alan Goodman
Jonathan Moore, materials science and engineering, Michael Kessler
Lysandra Perez, psychology, Monica Johnson
Elizabeth Rice-Reynolds, genetics and cell biology, Michael Griswold

Mia Ryckman, biology, Carrie Cuttler
Seth Schneider, genetics and cell biology, Anthony Nicola
Allegra Sundstrom, biology, Joanna Kelley
Mitchel Wagner, biological sciences, Jim Cooper

James Whitbread, mathematics, Shiv Karunakaran
Essence White, zoology pre-veterinary medicine, Erica Crespi
Heather Young, animal sciences and Spanish, Amber Adams-Progar

RICHLAND, Wash. – When Ashlee Iverson went fishing with her dad recently on a remote stretch of the Yakima River, the last thing they expected was company. They were surprised to find a homeless man named Brett living by the river.

“He was friendly and well-mannered but living pretty far away from civilization,” said Iverson, a Washington State University nursing student. “We were at least 10 miles upriver from West Richland. That is a long walk to town.”

Nursing student Ashlee Iverson at WSU Tri-Cities.

She and her father found that Brett had lost a good job before becoming homeless. She immediately felt a desire to assist him.

“As a nursing student, we learn empathy and altruism. I couldn’t just walk away without helping,” Iverson said.

She and her father provided Brett with a warm jacket, sleeping bag, cleaning and hygiene supplies and more. She mentioned his needs to her nursing class and the students were happy to help.

“I’m so proud of my classmates,” Iverson said. “The students at the nursing school took up a collection of clothing, food and supplies for Brett.”

She and her father check on Brett every few days.

“He mostly stays in West Richland,” she said. “We’ve talked to him about going to the mission in Pasco, but he is uncomfortable with that right now. We can tell he has had a hard time and we want to support his well-being and safety.

“I try to keep in mind that one kind gesture done for someone else can make a huge difference in their life, whether it’s a simple smile to show you care or offering someone something they need at that time,” she said.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities recently received a $25 million seven-year GEAR UP grant to prepare students in low-income schools to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs project will hire close to 100 new employees to work with students in middle schools.

This is the seventh U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP grant received by WSU Tri-Cities since 2002. Earlier awards have helped the university serve more than 25,000 students in middle and high schools.

Low-income, rural partnerships

The grant goals are to improve academic performance, completion of rigorous courses, knowledge of financial aid and post-secondary education, on-time graduation and post-secondary enrollment.

The grant “will raise student awareness and readiness for post-secondary education and career opportunities,” said Chuck Hallsted, GEAR UP director. “It will really make a difference in our communities, especially for first generation and underrepresented populations.”

The program serves 4,500 students in 10 partner districts: Walla Walla, College Place, Dayton, Prescott, Touchet, Kennewick, Othello, Warden, Moses Lake and Soap Lake.

New staff will provide individual guidance

WSU Tri-Cities GEAR UP staff will assist students beginning in the sixth and seventh grades in the districts’ 14 middle schools. Staff will follow the students through high school and into their first year of post-secondary education, which includes four-year colleges, community colleges and vocational technology schools.

Staff will serve students via in-class tutoring, mentoring, college trips, career exploration, after school programs, summer programs, technology, skill development for success and professional development for teachers.

Staff will work collaboratively with school district partners to ensure an effective team approach, Hallsted said.

Elinor Lake and her family have always been environmentally conscious. From ensuring their appliances were energy efficient to making the effort to turn off the lights every time they left the room, she and her family knew that even small actions could make an impact.

But when Lake started as a student at Washington State University Tri-Cities, pursuing undergraduate degrees in biology and humanities, she took her efforts to the next level, hoping to promote a culture of sustainability through campus initiatives and community projects.

26583192595_093debdaa0_zLake’s efforts began shortly after she attended a luncheon with CH2M. The organization had provided Lake with funds for a research project through the WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor’s Summer Scholars program where she studied professional women in academia and highlighted the traits, qualities and academic contributions that made them successful. Lake presented her research during a meeting with company executives and attended the luncheon thereafter.

“During the luncheon, I asked representatives from CH2M if their company recycled and I discovered they had an impressive sustainability program,” Lake said. “All of their events are zero-waste. They made a corporate commitment to be as environmentally-friendly as they could.”

Lake said she didn’t think anything would come of that initial discussion, but CH2M communications specialist Lynn Tegeler and Director of Public Relations Dee Millikin contacted Ken Fincher, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor of advancement and engagement, voicing they would support Lake’s sustainability efforts in any way they could.

“Dr. Fincher came to me and that was right when I was getting involved with WSU Tri-Cities’ environmental club,” Lake said. “We now had the corporate support, in addition to the administrative support, which was when everything really started to come together.”

Creating new opportunities

Backed by campus administration, community organizations and under the mentorship of Environmental Club advisor Gretchen Graber, Lake and her fellow environmental club members created a number of opportunities for the campus and regional community to get involved in sustainability efforts.

This past school year, the club organized two separate cleanup days at Bateman Island in Richland, Washington, in partnership with organizations such as the city of Richland, the Tapteal Greenway Association and several others. The two events attracted more than 120 volunteers who collected a combined 50 large bags of trash – half, of which was recycled.26097670065_b2ecbf8057_z

“The Bateman Island events were actually far more successful than I had anticipated,” Lake said. “It was inspiring and encouraging to see just how many people, both from WSU Tri-Cities and the general Tri-Cities community, were interested in cleaning up one of our local recreation areas.”

The club also organized their first Earth Day celebration last school year where they welcomed panel members from all over the mid-Columbia region. The event featured food from Ethos Trattoria, which uses sustainable materials, and the club handed out promotional items that define what people can do in their own homes and in the community to reduce, reuse and recycle.

“It’s a great way to publicize not only how people can start recycling more on campus, but also how they can take matters into their own home,” she said.

Lake said Graber was instrumental in the club’s success as she provided the knowledge, community connections and experience that served as a backbone to the group’s efforts.

“Working with Gretchen Graber in the club over the past year and a half has undoubtedly been one of the greatest learning experiences of my time at WSU Tri-Cities,” she said. “Gretchen contributed tremendous efforts toward the club and was invaluable with regard to my growth as a leader and as an aspiring change agent. She connected the club with key community partners. She deserves so much credit.”

Partnering with campus community

Lake recently turned her attention toward working with the campus maintenance and facility teams to publicize recycling and other sustainable practices on campus, with the hope of adding to the positive momentum the university has taken within the last several years to reduce waste.

20235317054_da00575ce3_zCarrie Ann Andersen, assistant director of campus facilities and operations, said she had her team make a conscious effort to reduce waste and improve upon the safety standards for cleaning materials on campus. Andersen said she and her team have added several recycling containers on campus, encouraged individuals to have their own paper recycling bins in their offices, as well as adding a few glass recycling containers on campus for the first time this year.

Anderson and her team also switched to environmentally-friendly cleaning products, which reduces the amount of contaminants that are released out into the environment.

“We have cut down the amount of waste and trash sent to the landfill by 50 percent in the last four years,” she said. “We used to have trash pick up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Now, our trash pick up is on Monday and Friday.”

Anderson said Lake has been a huge help in spreading word of their efforts and educating individuals on how they, too, can take sustainability into their own hands.

“With Elinor, her biggest help is that she is out there, she is talking to people, she is educating them,” she said. “We’re creating a culture of recycling and a culture of sustainability. It’s not only helping the planet. It is good business. Everyone wins.”

Art of nearly very variation will be featured during Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Night with the Arts from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Oct. 28 on campus.

Those attending will enjoy the Chancellor’s Art Exhibition Series, the WSU Tri-Cities student art exhibit, a community exhibit and live performances.

“It is a great way for the mid-Columbia Basin community to enjoy a wonderful evening of visual art and performances on the beautiful WSU Tri-Cities campus,” said Amber Eubanks, WSU Tri-Cities community engagement specialist.

Some of the live entertainment includes performances from the Urban Poets Society, an interactive installation for the Peace Mural that WSU Tri-Cities staff and local students created, a live-painter and musical artists.

The WSU Alumni Association will have a booth where people of all ages may paint pumpkins. Recreations of classic novel covers will be on display as part of a touring collection hosted by Mid-Columbia Libraries. The Allied Arts will also have booth to discuss their efforts in the area and how people can get involved.

The event is free and open to the general public.

For more information, visit

Washington State University Tri-Cities invites the public to explore the university’s programs, facilities and more during its fall open house from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Throughout the day, prospective students and their families will meet with staff as they explore student life, find answers to their college questions, learn how to apply for admission, how to pay for college, as well as how they can get involved on campus before and after they become students. Information will be available for students of all levels, from prospective freshmen to transfer students, to prospective running start students.

A resource fair detailing academic and student life information, student clubs and club athletics and recreation will run from 12:20 p.m. – 1 p.m. Tours will take place at designated times throughout the day.

“Our open house presents an excellent opportunity for prospective students to get a feel of the WSU Tri-Cities campus and learn more about the college admissions process,” admissions counselor Gaby Corona said. “It’s going to be a fun day of exploration.”

Those interested in attending the open house should RSVP at For more information, contact the WSU Tri-Cities office of admissions at 509-372-7250.



Gaby Corona, WSU Tri-Cities office of campus admissions, 509-372-7221,

Jeffrey Dennison, WSU Tri-Cities director of marketing and communciations, 509-372-7319,


By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education

gisela-ernst-slavit-headVANCOUVER, Wash. – Washington State University has won a five-year, $2.2 million grant to increase the number of certified K-8 teachers with bilingual and English learners (EL) endorsements and to provide professional development to improve EL instruction.

One of the main goals is to build on the strengths and talents of experienced paraprofessionals. The project will provide full scholarships to a minimum of 52 paraprofessionals to complete their bachelor’s degrees in education with EL endorsements. It is anticipated that at least 30 percent will be bilingual.

Other goals of the project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, will be to improve parental, family and community engagement and build resources for local outreach and national replication.

EL teacher shortage

None of the 295 school districts in Washington had their ELs meet all reading or math standards during the 2013-14 school year, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. ELs had much lower pass rates in reading than the student population at large, said EL professor Gisela Ernst-Slavit from the College of Education at WSU Vancouver.

Gisela Ernst-Slavit

“Washington schools are facing a crisis right now,” said Ernst-Slavit, who will work on the grant project with Judy Morrison, Yuliya Ardasheva and Sarah Newcomer at WSU Tri-cities and Kira Carbonneau at WSU Pullman.

The simple solution is to increase the quantity of EL teachers. But Washington – like most states – is experiencing an overall teacher shortage, especially in the central and southwestern parts of the state.

“As a result, what we see are schools using stop-gap measures to fill voids,” Ernst-Slavit said. “That includes emergency certifications and using substitute teachers instead of full-time teachers, which does a disservice to both teacher quality and student learning. Ultimately, student achievement suffers.”

Tri-Cities, Vancouver districts partner

Nowhere is this more apparent than around the Tri-Cities. While the state average of EL students per district is 10.5 percent, Pasco, for example, has 52 percent.

Pasco schools – along with those from Evergreen, Grandview, Kennewick, Prosser and Richland – are partner districts in the project, which is called Equity for Language Learners-Improving Practices and Acquisition of Culturally-Responsive Teaching (ELL-IMPACT).

“Collaboration between mentor teachers and our teacher education programs is at the core of this project,” said Ernst-Slavit, citing the WSU researchers’ specialized knowledge, expertise, cultural backgrounds and research perspective. “This is the kind of collaboration that places the college in a unique position to address the needs of our state by providing access and opportunity to our diverse communities.”


Gisela Ernst-Slavit, WSU Vancouver College of Education, 360-546-9659,

RICHLAND, Wash. – A doctoral student at Washington State University Tri-Cities is one of 15 worldwide, and the only U.S. student, selected to participate in a recent week-long school in Germany about developing safe, reliable chemicals in a sustainable way.

A school excursion to a lab in Hamburg, Germany.

“One of the biggest challenges for sustainability sciences is to find solutions that do not threaten economic growth, the environment and public welfare,” said Lei Zhu, who studies biological systems engineering at WSU Tri-Cities. “In particular, developing countries are seemingly faced with the dilemma of economic growth versus sustainability. Sustainability sciences is all about coming up with ways out of dilemmas.”

Participants studied the scope and benefits of sustainable chemistry in value chains and in chemicals in products at the Summer School on Sustainable Chemistry for Sustainable Development, Zhu said.

Lei Zhu in Lüneburg, Germany.

One purpose of the school is for students to bring their unique experiences from various countries for discussions on approaches and solutions to substitute hazardous chemicals for safe and reliable chemicals in products, he said.

At WSU, Zhu works under the guidance of associate professor Hanwu Lei to find an ideal and less expensive catalyst for converting biomass into biofuel and value added chemicals.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Groundbreaking for the 800-bed student housing complex at Washington State University Tri-Cities will be at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, north of the Consolidated Information Center.

“We welcome members of the community to join us,” said Chancellor Keith Moo-Young, who with WSU President Kirk Schulz will speak at the ceremony.on-campus-housing-2

“This housing complex will add to student success and, into the future, industry success,” said Moo-Young. “Students will be closer to on-campus resources, as well as industry opportunities just up the street at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Hanford Site contractors and other world-class industry and research-based organizations.

“Students will graduate career-ready after receiving a comprehensive education founded in the university’s polytechnic approach to learning,” he said.on-campus-housing-1

WSU Tri-Cities signed a land lease agreement for approximately 15 acres in July. The complex will be owned, operated and maintained by Corporate Pointe Developers, LLC. The first of seven phases, which will include 165 beds, is expected to be ready in fall 2017.

To learn more about WSU Tri-Cities and its commitment to dynamic student engagement, dynamic research experiences and dynamic community engagement based in a polytechnic approach to learning, visit