By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

Manny-Garcia-80RICHLAND, Wash. – Within the confines of his cold, concrete prison cell, Emmanuel “Manny” Garcia found himself seven years ago contemplating the depths of his reality.

Following the death of his father in 2000, he got involved with the wrong crowd and started abusing drugs. In 2009, he was found guilty of theft of firearms and burglary and began serving a sentence at Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane, Wash.

There, he started a plan to ensure he would never see the inside of a prison cell again: “I enrolled in some college classes,” he said.

Thanks to this first step, and help from the federal TRIO program, he has overcome his criminal past and is thriving as a student speaker and future leader. TRIO provides low-income, first-generation and disabled students with tutoring, counseling and other resources to help them succeed both inside and outside the classroom.

“TRIO changed my life,” Garcia said. “I don’t know where I would be today without the TRIO program and the help I’ve received through Washington State University Tri-Cities.”

Care, concern keep him on track

While taking courses in prison through Spokane Falls Community College, Garcia worked with his chemical dependency counselor to end the toxic cycle of substance abuse and addiction. He got a job, earning 30 cents an hour, to pay off $1,500 in college debt he owed from a previous try at community college.

WSU Tri-Cities student Emmanuel “Manny” Garcia is using the university TRIO program to overcome his troubled past and help others.

“I was battling many personal issues and many personal demons,” he said. “I wanted a better life for myself. I knew it could be done through the power of education.”

Out of prison in March 2012, he enrolled in Big Bend Community College. After a successful first quarter, he decided to take winter quarter off.

“I was just feeling that I wasn’t adequate and I wasn’t worthy to go back and be in school,” he said. “My thought was ‘How is a convict like me ever going to change?’ That was when a TRIO advisor called me. They cared enough to call and see if I was OK.”

That gave him the motivation to complete his associate’s degree before enrolling at WSU Tri-Cities, where TRIO has continued to be crucial to his success.

Better future based on education, experience

A junior psychology student, Garcia ultimately hopes to earn a doctorate and start a nonprofit organization to help out others with troubled pasts.

He said the TRIO staff at WSU Tri-Cities has been able to locate scholarships for him that he would not have known about otherwise. He is on a psychology research team and participates in community service projects. He holds a 3.8 grade point average.

He has served as a resident advisor for TRIO Upward Bound, the organization’s summer academy program, where he shares his story with younger students.

“Things are going really well for me now, and I owe a lot of that to the TRIO program,” he said.

He works with the El Nuevo Camino organization, a crisis intervention program to reduce youth crime and violence. He serves on the board and is being trained to become project manager.

“It is a new organization, but we collaborate with local law enforcement, judges, district attorneys, community leaders and health professionals,” he said. “Our plan is to make a real difference right here in our local community.”

Aiming for grad school, inspiring others

Garcia said he hopes his story encourages others on the path to success and will motivate others to apply to TRIO and get involved.

He recently spoke at WSU Tri-Cities’ first celebration of National TRIO Day:

“I want to encourage you, if you are a first-generation, low-income or disabled student, to sign up for TRIO today,” he said. “I am fully convinced that TRIO works. I am living proof. If I can do it, so can you.”

He plans to apply for TRIO’s Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which is a competitive grant for graduate school for participants from disadvantaged backgrounds who have demonstrated strong academic potential.

For more information about the TRIO program at WSU Tri-Cities, visit

GLD-affected cabernet sauvignon vines, left, and healthy vines.

By Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

PROSSER, Wash. – Grapevine leafroll disease (GLD) has plagued vineyards for centuries, but little is known about how this virus impacts the fruit quality and actual wine produced from grapes of affected plants.

Researchers from different disciplines at Washington State University teamed up to examine virus impacts from “vine to wine.” Their study, recently published in PLoS ONE, can be found at

Three years of wine comparisons

They made wines from red grapes from vines with GLD and wines from healthy plants to learn the effects of GLD on wine chemistry.

“In most studies we do, we use a limited number of grapes for data collection,” said Naidu Rayapati, a WSU virologist and associate professor of plant pathology. “This time, we harvested 750 to 800 pounds from infected vines and an equal number from healthy vines, all donated by a generous grower.”

The grapes were harvested at different points in the season to measure whether early or late harvesting made the GLD more of a factor in the finished wine. They replicated the tests over three years to allow for changes from warm years versus cooler years.

Warm years see smaller differences

In the final results, wines from GLD-affected grapes had significantly lower alcohol, polymeric pigments and anthocyanins (both are coloring agents in wine) compared to corresponding wines from grapes of non-symptomatic vines.

The impacts wound up being more pronounced during cooler growing seasons than in warmer seasons.

“We think that’s because grapes mature much faster in warmer seasons and don’t have as much time to be affected by the virus,” Rayapati said.

That’s just a hypothesis at this point, he said, and he hopes to do more research into seasonal influences for a deeper understanding of how GLD impacts vine health and fruit and wine quality. He aims to translate this knowledge for practical applications in vineyards.

Unusual collaboration

Rayapati worked on this study with colleagues Olufemi Alabi, Federico Casassa, Linga Gutha, Richard Larsen, Thomas Henick-Kling and Jim Harbertson. Harbertson and Henick-Kling are with the wine program at WSU Tri-Cities in Richland, Wash.

Harbertson and Rayapati agreed that it is unique for the two sides of winemaking, the viticulturists like Rayapati and the enologists like Harbertson, to collaborate on a project. Mostly, that’s because it’s difficult to get the amount of grapes of any affected plant needed to make wine.

Harbertson cautioned that it’s unlikely a vintner would ever make a wine with grapes from 100 percent GLD-affected vines. But he said this research helps show that a virus can impact more than just the amount of grapes produced and harvested.


Naidu Rayapati, WSU plant pathology, 509-786-9215,
James Harbertson, WSU viticulture and enology, 509-372-7506,


By Sue McMurray, Carson College of Business

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Carson College of Business recently honored its outstanding faculty, staff and graduate students during an annual awards event at Washington State University Pullman.

Outstanding Pullman MBA Faculty of the Year Award: Arvin Sahaym, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, blends humor with acumen to capture students’ attention in class, encourage them to delve deeper and generate dialogue about real-world cases and companies.

Outstanding Online MBA Faculty of the Year Award: John Becker-Blease, Department of Business, Oregon State University, teaches courses in corporate finance and financial institutions at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Online MBA students recognize his scholarly and teaching efforts in corporate social responsibility and curriculum reform.

Outstanding Executive MBA Faculty of the Year Award: Fred Peterson, Leadership and Professional Studies, WSU Spokane, applies a student-centered approach, helping students understand the roots of leadership theory and compose a leadership philosophy.

Dean’s excellence fellows. At top are summer research grant recipients.

Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award: Lu Lu, Department of Hospitality Business Management, has published 11 research publications in leading journals and received in 2015 the Best Conference Paper Award at the 21st Annual Graduate Education & Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism. She also received the 2015 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad.

Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award: Majid Dadgar, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, has taught five courses multiple times and designed three new courses. He is dedicated to students and excels at actively engaging them in the teaching and learning process.

Outstanding Graduate Student Service Award: Warren Cook, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, is a teaching assistant who positively affects students by gaining their trust and enhancing their writing, critical thinking skills and overall learning experience.

Outstanding Staff Award: Mistie Josephson, Business Growth Mentor and Analysis, WSU Vancouver, consistently garners support for the program, connects with potential clients and mentors for students and fosters business relationships. She ensures every business student has opportunity to gain real-world experience.

Outstanding Staff Award: Lael Gray, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship, balances a high workload as the principal assistant of the largest unit in the Carson College of Business. In addition to assisting the department chair, faculty and doctoral students, she supports the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which includes helping with the Business Plan Competition.

Outstanding Clinical Faculty or Non-Tenure Track Faculty Award: Kim Houser, Department of Accounting, is the only Carson College member of a multidisciplinary team awarded a seed grant related to the Grand Research Challenges. She publishes in high level law reviews and ranked tax journals and has two papers in progress. She taught approximately 400 students this semester and is teaching an online law course.

Outstanding Faculty Scholarship & Research Award: Joe Cote, Department of Marketing and International Business, WSU Vancouver, has published over 30 publications in peer reviewed journals. Two publications were accepted into the Marketing Canon. He excels at mentoring and has been recognized for service to several prominent editorial boards.

Outstanding Faculty Service Award: Babu John Mariadoss, Department of Marketing and International Business, served on eight university committees this year, chaired the International Business Institute Fellows group and was instrumental in making significant changes to the International Learning Agreement.

Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award: Darrel Muehling, Department of Marketing and International Business, has demonstrated high quality teaching across undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels, in the Online MBA program and in the faculty-led summer study abroad program in Spain. His teaching evaluation scores are consistently high, and he is respected and praised by students.

Carson College of Business Dean’s Excellence Fellows: This award recognizes outstanding performance by faculty in teaching, research and service. Recipients include faculty from the following departments:

Department of Accounting: Sue Gill, chair and associate professor; Kim Houser, clinical associate professor; Debra Sanders, professor and associate academic director, WSU Vancouver;

Department of Finance and Management Science: George Jiang, professor and Gary P. Brinson Chair of Investment Management; Charles Munson, professor;

Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship: Thomas Allison, assistant professor; Ken Butterfield, chair and associate professor; Deborah Compeau, Hubman Distinguished Professor of Information Systems; K.D. Joshi, Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professor of Information Systems; Kristine Kuhn, associate professor; Arvin Sahaym, associate professor; Leah Sheppard, assistant professor; Tom Tripp, professor and associate dean of undergraduate programs, WSU Vancouver;

Department of Marketing and International Business: Jean Johnson, professor; Jeff Joireman, associate professor; Babu John Mariadoss, associate professor and International Business Institute fellow;

School of Hospitality Business Management: Jenny Kim, associate professor and Craig Shafer Fellow.

Summer Research Grant Awards: Recipients include faculty from the following:

Department of Accounting: Li Xu, assistant professor, WSU Vancouver; Bernard Wong-On-Wing, professor;

Department of Finance and Management Science: Sung Ahn, professor; Stergios Fotopoulos, professor; Gene Lai, chair and professor; Sheen Liu, associate professor, WSU Tri-Cities; Charles Munson, professor;

Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship: Ken Butterfield, chair and associate professor; Jerry Goodstein, professor, WSU Vancouver; K.D. Joshi, Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professor of Information Systems; Kristine Kuhn, associate professor; Arvin Sahaym, associate professor; Leah Sheppard, assistant professor; Paul Skilton, assistant professor, WSU Tri-Cities;

Department of Marketing and International Business: Jeff Joireman, associate professor; Babu John Mariadoss, associate professor and International Business Institute Fellow; Darrel Muehling, chair and professor; Andrew Perkins, associate professor; Alberto Sa Vinhas, associate professor, WSU Vancouver;

School of Hospitality Business Management: Ming-Hsiang Chen, associate professor; Christina Chi, associate professor; Dogan Gursoy, professor; Jenny Kim, associate professor and Craig Shafer Fellow; Nancy Swanger, director, associate dean of strategic initiatives; Iis Tussyadiah, associate clinical professor, WSU Vancouver.

PULLMAN, Wash. – A second $1 million grant to the Office of the Provost means students at the Vancouver and Tri-Cities campuses will have the opportunity to apply for Invest in Success this fall.

The program offers low-income students the chance to save up to $1,000 and receive as much as $4,000 in matching funds.

The grant is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Washington State University Office of Student Financial Services will provide matching funds.

Read more at the provost’s blog at

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

Tri-Cities-commencementRICHLAND, Wash. – Approximately 377 students will participate in the Washington State University Tri-Cities commencement ceremony, which begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Toyota Center, 7000 W. Grandridge Blvd. in Kennewick, Wash.

Doors open at noon. The event is free to the public and tickets are not required.

Among those graduating, 325 students are earning their bachelor’s degrees, 44 master’s and 8 doctoral degrees.

The keynote address will be given by Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif.

Chancellor Keith Moo-Young will present the welcome address and confer degrees. He will present the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Doug Hamrick, retired chemical disposal project manager and coordinator for the Coug House WSU Tri-Cities is constructing with Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity. Michele Acker-Hocevar, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, will present introductions and recognitions.

Vanessa Alvarez Sanchez, Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities president, will give an address to the graduates, which will be followed by the student address by 2016 valedictorian Lorenzo Luzi.

Six students were selected to carry gonfalons, which are colorful banners that represent the colleges, based on their academic excellence. Those students include:

• Suzanne Kaye, agricultural, human and natural resource sciences
• Lisa Kissinger, arts and sciences
• Danelle Herr, business
• McKenzie Munn, education
• Jason Stidham, engineering and architecture
• David Jacob Garcia, nursing

WSU Tri-Cities student Kayla Stark will sing the national anthem.

For more information, visit

by Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. – Cameron Hohimer, a Washington State University Tri-Cities mechanical engineering doctoral student, will explore the possibilities of soft robotics through 3-D printing as part of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Hohimer was awarded a $34,000 for three-years annual stipend and an additional $12,000 for three years education allowance, which will offset the cost of tuition and fees.

Hohimer had a small part in working on the apple picking robot that WSU researchers Manoj Karkee and Changki Mo are constructing with the help of graduate researchers. He said that robot, for example, has rigid links that allow it to grab the apples at certain pressure points for certain sizes and shapes. But with soft robotics, they could attempt to create more compliant actuators, which are responsible for moving or controlling a system, using more malleable materials, he said.

Cameron Hohimer“Soft robotics is a relatively new area of study in which we are trying to create non-rigid actuators and components for robotics systems,” he said. “The nice thing is if you were to use something like this for apple harvesting, as you move into objects, it is compliant. It would bend out of the way. It can more easily form to what it is you are trying to do.”

Hohimer said current methods for creating many of these types of soft robotics materials are done through injection molding and silicon casting, but his hope is that he can use fused deposition modeling, a type of 3-D printing, to make the fabrication process faster and easier, as well as utilize it to create parts and products that are more complex in design.

“You see a lot of applications of soft robotics in creating humanoid robots,” he said. “Obviously our hands are very dexterous. You can pick up a wide range of objects with varying geometries and sizes. Most rigid grabbers, or end effectors, are not good at picking up cylindrical objects and then trying to pick up something that is a different shape. With soft robotics, you can design manipulators that are more robust that can grasp items with a wide variety of shapes and sizes.”

With his research, Hohimer will also investigate the ability to 3-D print piezoelectric polymers, which could be used to sense strain and vibration and be embedded into soft robotic actuators.

Hohimer earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from WSU Tri-Cities in 2014. He is two years into his doctoral program in mechanical engineering at WSU Tri-Cities.



Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers and adjunct faculty are among the scientists and engineers chosen to receive the coveted “Breakthrough Prize” for their role in the detection of gravitational waves 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted them.

The selection committee of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics on Monday announced a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics to recognize those who helped detect the waves, which are often referred to as “ripples in space-time.” Announced in February, the discovery confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity and heralded a new way of looking at the universe.

WSU scientists who contributed to the discovery are physics professor Sukanta Bose, postdoctoral researcher Nairwita Mazumder and graduate students Bernard Hall and Ryan Magee. Also contributing were Fred Raab and Greg Mendell, astrophysicists and adjunct faculty working at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory detector, or LIGO, at Hanford.

The researchers laid the foundation for combining data from multiple detectors to increase the chance of discovering a gravitational wave signal. They also worked on the method for searching gravitational-wave signals from black hole mergers, aided by prior research by WSU theoretical physicist Matt Duez.

The breakthrough prize is worth $3 million, significantly more than the $1 million attached to a Nobel Prize. Of that, $1 million will be shared among the three founders of the LIGO detector. The WSU researchers will be among 1,012 contributors to the discovery who will share $2 million.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Students will give presentations on work from the semester at noon-1 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, May 3-5, as part of the Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

The public is invited to hear the presentations, explore the topics, ask questions and give feedback.

Some of the research projects that will be featured include:
• Toxins in mussels and clams from harmful algal blooms in surface waters
• Immigration, migration and ethnic identity explored through autobiographical accounts and family histories
• Data analysis of a service learning project with the Boys and Girls club
• Sensation seeking and how it is associated with less sensitivity to the effects of alcohol
• Bridge design, building design and structural platform design

The sessions will be in Consolidated Information Center (CIC) 120, with Thursday’s presentations also in the West Atrium.

Disciplines covered will include English, political science, history, fine arts, engineering, psychology, education, Spanish and the sciences.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Officials from Washington State University Tri-Cities will break ground on the new student union building during a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, May 6, south of the Consolidated Information Center building.

Community members are welcome to attend.

The WSU Board of Regents voted unanimously last month to approve the schematic design for the 6,250 square-feet, $5.73 million facility, which will include study, leisure and meeting spaces for students.

To RSVP for the groundbreaking, visit


Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

By Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences
and Lauren Ingeno, Drexel University

spirits-judgingRICHLAND, Wash. – Whiskey aficionados may claim that Manhattans must be made with fiery, grassy rye while an Old Fashioned requires the sweetness of bourbon.

But a new study from a Washington State University aroma and flavor chemist and colleagues shows the average consumer cannot distinguish between the two flavors.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins, a WSU assistant professor in viticulture and enology, found that when asked to blindly sort American ryes and bourbons, participants were more likely to group together products by brand rather than type of whiskey.

The results were published in the Journal of Food Science with co-authors Jacob Lahne at Drexel University and Hildegarde Heymann at the University of California, Davis. See

More flexibility for mixability

“There are differences between rye and bourbon,” Collins said. “But they aren’t nearly as different as we think they are. In a blind test, it’s really hard to tell a difference.”

Drexel’s Lahne, the lead author, agreed, saying people who work with bourbon may be able to experiment a little more.

“There is definitely a tendency for bartenders to talk about how some drinks should absolutely be made with bourbon or rye, and I think it’s clear now that there is more flexibility,” Lahne said. “In a way it’s fun and exciting – it gives you a bigger universe to play with.”

The only legal difference between bourbon and rye products is their mash bill, or grain content: Bourbon must be fermented from a mash that is a majority of corn, and rye from a majority of rye. Otherwise, the legal and stylistic requirements for the two products are identical.

So it’s possible for a 2 percent difference in mash bill to tip a whiskey from one category into the other.

Putting supposed difference to the test

Yet in both pop culture and whiskey educator circles, the two kinds are held to be distinct – bourbon is often described like smooth caramel while rye is called dry and brash.

Despite the quickly growing demand for whiskey in the United States (with revenues over $2.6 billion in 2014), there had been no rigorous examination of the assumed difference between bourbon and rye.

Collins and his colleagues wanted to know, how can straight rye and bourbon be so dramatically different if their basic recipe is so similar?

They presented 21 study participants with trays of 10 anonymized whiskeys – five bourbons and five ryes – in random order. The participants were instructed to smell but not taste the alcohol. This method is in accordance with published guidelines for Scotch whisky evaluation.

The participants were then asked to organize the whiskeys into no fewer than two and no more than nine groups, by any criteria they wished.

In a second session, when the participants came back days later, the same whiskeys were presented in an identical fashion with new, randomized labels. Participants were asked to sort the whiskeys into groups again.

The researchers next used a statistical analysis (called DISTATIS) to interpret the responses.

Whiskey age, brand more telling than type

Collins and the team found that the subjects did not separate the whiskeys based on mash bill (bourbon vs. rye), but instead were more influenced by properties like alcohol content, age at bottling and brand. For instance, participants were very likely to group together Jim Beam whiskeys.

Collins said this is likely because individual distillers make their bourbons and ryes in similar ways and use similar barrels.

“So much of the characteristics of any whiskey come from the barrels,” he said. “And when you use the same barrels for each style, there will naturally be strong flavor similarities.”

The perceived differences between bourbon and rye may stem from a time in history when mash bill differences were greater, he said. However, modern American whiskeys that are most popular today are more closely related.

In future studies, Collins and his colleagues plan to further explore how specific sensory attributes match up with chemical analyses of each whiskey.


Tom Collins, WSU viticulture and enology, 509-372-7515,