RICHLAND, Wash. – The progress and future of cleanup efforts at the Hanford Site will be the focus of a presentation by Tom Fletcher, deputy manager of the Department of Energy’s Richland Operations Office, 3-4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the WSU Tri-Cities East Auditorium.

This is the fourth in a series of lectures focusing on the Hanford Site and is cohosted by Washington State University Tri-Cities and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Fletcher, a WSU alumnus, will focus on the Richland Operation Office’s priorities for continuing the Hanford Site cleanup while strictly adhering to safe, environmentally-acceptable and responsible management practices.

The Richland Operations Office has an annual budget of approximately $1 billion. It oversees multiple contractors working on the cleanup project that stretches over the 580-square-mile site.

“We are pleased to welcome Mr. Fletcher and his expertise” on the Hanford cleanup project, said Akram Hossain, vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and external programs at WSU Tri-Cities. “This is an exceptional opportunity for our students, faculty and all of the community to learn what is currently happening at the Hanford Site, as well as how this is accomplished from an operations perspective.”

Fletcher became deputy manager of the Richland Operations Office in December 2016. He oversees daily operations, program planning, project execution, budgeting and compliance with the Hanford Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order. He has more than 20 years of experience managing nuclear operations, construction, deactivation, demolition and environmental remediation projects.

Fletcher holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from WSU.



Tish Christman, WSU Tri-Cities administrative assistant, 509-372-7683,

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

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities will honor its international students, faculty and staff members with a new international flag installation and celebration that will take place at 1:15 p.m. on Monday in the Floyd Atrium on campus.

There will be an initial total of 32 flags represented of the known 32 countries of current international students, faculty and staff that will be hung as part of the installation. Members of the public are welcome to attend the celebration.

“These flags are displayed in a prominent place in recognition of faculty, staff and students who have come to our campus from countries around the world and of their diverse backgrounds and experience strengthen the campus,” said Jana Kay, campus registrar.

As part of a brief celebration for installation, the campus community will hear from Kate McAteer, assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs, Israa Alshaikhli, president of the Associated Students of Washington State University Tri-Cities, and Yuna Okamoto, a student in the Intensive American Language Center, on the importance and impact of having the installation on campus.

If there are flags not represented of current campus community members’ home countries, those individuals are encouraged to contact Erika Kraus, WSU Tri-Cities international student coordinator, at Additional flags will be installed as they are identified.

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

Jonah Firestone

RICHLAND, Wash. – WSU Tri-Cities is developing a teacher endorsement program in computer science that has attracted a $49,000 grant from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and a matching contribution from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Currently, there is no teaching endorsement program at any universities in Washington state for computer science, which makes program development in the subject increasingly important in today’s advancing technological society, said Jonah Firestone, WSU Tri-Cities assistant professor of teaching and learning and campus lead on the grant.

“The state of Washington has pushed to have at least one computer science teacher at every school who has an endorsement in the subject,” Firestone said. “Up until now, it was usually a math or science teacher who also had an interest in computing that would serve that role. But we need to take that further and offer an endorsement in the subject in order to best prepare our teachers.”

The first phase of the grant funds, he said, will fund the development and offering of professional development workshops with teachers from five districts that include Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Prosser and Othello. The workshops, which currently are being developed by WSU Tri-Cities and PNNL and will be taught by PNNL computer scientists this spring, will provide training on computer science concepts and skills and for designing computer science curriculum.

The funds will also go toward stipends for educators who participate.

Firestone said there will be a combination of teacher recruitment for the program and recommendations from districts for current instructors who would immediately qualify for the program based on their roles in schools.

“We’re looking at teachers who are already in technology classes, plus we’re working with our contacts at the local science, technology, engineering and mathematics schools to inquire about teachers who would qualify and be interested,” he said.

Morrison Judy

The second phase of the grant entails the analysis of data collected over the course of the workshops, which will then be used for the development of a computer science certificate program for educators. Firestone and Judy Morrison, associate professor of teaching and learning, will co-lead the project. Together they will analyze the workshops and develop the certificate program.

Firestone said the certificate program will combine education courses with computer science courses.

“Classes on the content are not enough,” Firestone said. “We have to have classes on how to teach this material to the kids.”

WSU Tri-Cities is the only university in the state selected for the grant program. Twenty-four other districts, schools and nonprofits also were selected for the program, who will use the funds to train teachers, provide and upgrade technology, and expand access to girls, students from underrepresented populations and communities who have historically been underserved. The grants awarded to higher education institutions across the state total nearly $1 million.

“We are very grateful to OSPI for presenting this opportunity and to PNNL for providing the in-kind matching funds that will go toward the program and their time in working with us on this endeavor,” Firestone said. “This grant is allowing us to get this program started and off the ground. This is stage one of a multistage process.”



amazon catalyst + wsu logos

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University announces the launch of a collaborative program with Amazon titled Amazon Catalyst — a successful innovation grant program.

Amazon will provide up to $300,000 to WSU to launch the initiative, providing funding and mentorship to support bold, globally impactful and disruptive projects proposed by members of the university community. The Amazon Catalyst program will support the expansion of the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the WSU system.

Grants will be available to students, staff and faculty across all of WSU’s campuses, colleges, research stations and extension offices located throughout the state. The grants can be awarded in any field, including the humanities, engineering, physical and life sciences, and the arts. Grant recipients also will join the Amazon Catalyst Fellows, a collaborative community of individuals who share a passion for building solutions to solve complex problems. The grants reward creativity, scholarship, and innovation for devices, products, processes and services.

Amazon first launched Amazon Catalyst at the University of Washington in 2015. In the program’s first two years it funded dozens of projects, ranging from self-cleaning solar panels to eco-friendly self-driving bikes, that tackle difficult challenges.

“We’re excited to bring the Amazon Catalyst program to WSU and to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurial spirit across the entire state of Washington,” said H.B. Siegel, director of engineering at Amazon Web Services, Inc.

Keane Christopher-

“As the state’s research land grant institution, with a mission of supporting and creating innovation that drives the economy of the state of Washington, we are thrilled to have the Amazon Catalyst program at WSU,” said Chris Keane, the university’s vice president of research. “Thousands of exciting ideas are generated across our campuses each year. This program will bring much-needed resources to help translate those ideas into successful endeavors.”

Amazon Catalyst projects must address a key problem faced in the world today. Problems can be diverse and focus on a variety of topics from computer security to immigration to healthcare. Given the complex nature of these issues, the solutions may come from different fields and perspectives. Therefore, grants are open to all members of the university community.

The Amazon Catalyst grant application process kicks off in the fall of 2017, and grants are scheduled to be awarded in early 2018.

For more information see


Media Contacts:

  • Ann Goos, director for public affairs, WSU, 206-465-5136,
  • Brian Kraft, WSU Office of Research, 509-335-3959,
  • Marie Mayes, WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, 509-335-5628,

By Maegan Murray

In graduate student Kenny Nyirenda’s home country of Zambia, access to clean water sources can be challenging, especially in remote areas.

That is why he has committed his graduate research as a Fulbright scholar at Washington State University Tri-Cities to improving access to clean sources of drinking water and finding solutions to prevent water pollution.

The Fulbright Scholarship allows students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The prestigious program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Kenny Nyirenda with UK Groundwater Project

Kenny Nyirenda completes some work with the UK Groundwater Project.

As part of his Fulbright program, Nyirenda is studying under Yonas Demissie, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at WSU Tri-Cities, to look at the impacts of mining on groundwater resources, as well as how climate change is impacting groundwater resources.

“Because of what is happening in terms of climate change and in terms of pollution, people are now resorting to the ground for their water sources,” he said. “Groundwater is often a clean source of water and is readily available in the ground, although it can get depleted and polluted especially by anthropogenic activities.”

Nyirenda said Zambia is largely known for its mining, which puts pressure on water resources as a result of excessive pumping and pollution from the activity.

“We want to make sure that this resource is protected, and many surface water bodies are drying up in some parts of the country due to prolonged dry seasons attributed to climate change,” he said. “There is fresh water available in the ground and we need to make sure we are protecting the resource, especially in these areas that are prone to climatic change.”

Currently, as part of a graduate seminar, he is reviewing the data and literature on the impacts of mining on groundwater in Zambia and around the globe, assessing the potential of acid mine drainage and its impact on groundwater sources.

“What they are mining in Zambia are mainly base metal sulfide-rich mineral deposits, which have the potential to generate acid when exposed to air, moisture or rain water,” he said. “Once that acid is generated, it becomes a nuisance because it spreads into the environment together with the dissolved heavy metals it carries and ends up in groundwater.”

Solving the issue of access to clean drinking water and preventing pollution from occurring within not only his home country, but throughout Africa, he said, could solve many more problems throughout the continent.

“Many diseases that are prevalent in Africa stem from consumption of poor quality drinking water,” he said. “If you sort out the problems with water, you sort out problems with most of Africa. We need to figure out how to protect the resources that we have, as well as improve access to good quality water across Africa.”

Geophysical survey of groundwater - Kenny Nyirenda-1

Kenny Nyirenda participates in a geophysical survey of groundwater.

Nyirenda said he has never personally suffered from lack of access to clean drinking water, as he grew up in a military barrack where his father served in the military. As a result, he and his family were provided with water and electricity. Across rural parts of Zambia and in other parts of Africa, however, people may not have regular access to the same resources.

“For one, many might not have the knowledge to know whether a water source is OK,” he said. “Additionally, because there are natural sources of pollution, people may collect water thinking that it is of good quality, when in fact, there may be serious issues with it.”

Nyirenda said he plans to take the research he develops through WSU Tri-Cities and inform people, as well as implement changes, in his home country. His home university, The Copperbelt University, was selected by the World Bank as an Africa Center of Excellence in Sustainable Mining. One of its aims is to promote a balance between environmental sustainability and mine production. The pairing of his Fulbright experience at WSU Tri-Cities with the resources afforded to him at his home university will allow him and his colleagues to make a true difference when he arrives back home.

“One of the great things about the Fulbright program is the mutual understanding between the two countries that I can take my work back home to implement positive changes,” he said. “When I go back home, my network here will still be there as a result of this Fulbright experience. My work doesn’t have to end here. We will still be in touch to communicate about developments and regarding new opportunities once I return home.”

Nyirenda hopes to work with the United Nations Environment Programme or United Nations Water to bring about positive change regarding water infrastructure and policies surrounding the resource in his home country. From there, he hopes to become a politician so he can help lead initiatives that will improve access to good quality water.

“Politicians have the opportunity to be more powerful to implement most of these innovative ideas regarding water access and policy,” he said. “I want to use this influence to implement these ideas.”

Gear Up logoRICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities recently received a $11.7 million seven-year GEAR UP grant to prepare students in low-income schools to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

This award marks the eighth U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP grant received by WSU Tri-Cities since 2002. These awards have helped the university serve more than 30,000 students in middle and high schools in southeastern Washington. Total GEAR UP grant funds received by WSU Tri-Cities now total more than $123 million.

The GEAR UP grant — GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs — will allow for the hiring of nine new salaried staff and a variety of tutors to work with students in middle schools. The goals of the program are to improve academic performance, completion of rigorous courses, knowledge of financial aid and post-secondary education, state exam pass rates, on-time graduation, post-secondary enrollment and freshman retention rates.

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

Partnerships with local schools

The new grant, titled the One Vision Partnership, will serve 2,185 students in nine partner districts in Washington: Clarkston, Columbia, Finley, Ephrata, Kiona-Benton, Mabton, Pasco, North Franklin and Prosser.

WSU Tri-Cities GEAR UP staff will assist students in the sixth and/or seventh grades and will follow the students through high school and into their first year of post-secondary education to increase their academic success.

Additional resources and support for student success

Students will have access to academic tutoring, mentoring, advising, college trips, career exploration, after-school programs, summer programs, non-academic skills for success and some technology. Professional development will also be available for teachers.

Hallsted said the WSU GEAR UP program also emphasizes collaboration with school administration to ensure an effective team approach and alignment with their educational framework and GEAR UP grant objectives, including advisory board meetings comprised of the partner school superintendents.


By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Yichien Cooper, adjunct professor of teaching and learning at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is showing the world that arts education is more than the creation of physical and digital media through her work in growing international partnerships across the globe.

Yichien Cooper and teachers from STEAM workshop in Hong Kong

Yichien Cooper and teachers from STEAM workshop in Hong Kong

Cooper traveled to Asia this summer to create and build upon international partnerships in arts education where she presented at conferences and provided workshops in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea. During these presentations, she worked with arts educators and researchers from around the world, discussing ways to bridge gaps in arts education. She said instilling arts-based academic programming among STEM-based programming is critical to growing a students’ problem-solving and innovative ability.

“Art isn’t just art,” she said. “It is the confluence of ideas that come from many different experiences and knowledge that one obtains throughout their life. When applied to subjects like science and engineering, for example, that is when products and initiatives develop that continue to change the world.”

Leading by example

Cooper said many Asian nations are now trying to catch up on American standards for pairing the arts with technical and science-based academics. The United States, she said, began a focused philosophy to include arts with STEM fields, combining the old “STEM” acronym to make “STEAM.”

She said countries in Asia have witnessed the successes of companies ranging from Microsoft, to Apple, to scientific and medical firms that have

As an invited speaker for the 2017 InSEA World Congress, Cooper gave a talk on “Building A Sustainable Creative City through Art with Social Purposes: An Autoethnographic Account of Being an Arts Commissioner.” She talked about how one discovers identity and sense of self through the planning and development of public arts.

taken the world by storm by means of developing products and apparatuses that originated out of creative real-world problem-solving.

“What research has shown is that with the introduction of arts concepts among these technical fields, children thrive in their creative product development, their teamwork ability and their ability to think long-term to come up with creative solutions to real-world problems,” she said. “It’s a tool that is effective in bridging across curricular areas and improving learning.”

Cooper said other countries are emphasizing how arts can enrich students’ learning. With the popularity of STEAM education, they are looking up to what American students are able to accomplish through that creative process.

“They want to collaborate and implement those strategies within their own schools,” she said.

Presenting to countries across Asia

During her travels in Asia, Cooper gave a range of presentations focusing on how to incorporate the arts into various academic fields.

One of her presentations focused on integrating arts at Washington State University Tri-cities, providing highlights from her upcoming Chinese book, “The Power of Integration” which will be out in November in China. During another presentation, Cooper talked about her work partnering with local schools in the Tri-Cities to develop their arts programming in combination with STEM curriculum. Cooper also spoke about her journey as an art advocator in Richland at the 36th International Society for Education Through Art World Congress in Daegu, Korea..

Cooper (second from right) with some participants during her STEAM presentation in Foshan, China, where she conducted a three-day workshop on STEAM. The participants were asked to apply simple machinery in a craft design Displayed in the photos, participants showcase an octopus head dress where the wearer pulls strings to move all tentacles.

Cooper spoke to educators and individuals from various industries on improving visual literacy and research through data visualization. As the chair of the data visualization working group for the National Art Education Association Research Commission, she said it is important to create visual representations of information that is easy and accessible for all to understand and ingest, making it more accessible to the non-technical expert in that field.

Cooper also conducted hands-on workshops that were organized by the Art Education Research Institute in Taiwan, Art Education Training Center at Foshan in China, and the Hong Kong Society of Education in Art.

Further, Cooper used her experience abroad to build partnerships with local students overseas. She worked with teachers at Shang-Shi Elementary School in Taiwan, where both groups hope to partner to develop joint curriculum for arts education.

“We could have the students in Taiwan showing our American students what their art and arts curriculum looks like and our American students can share with them what art looks like in America,” she said. “Our ultimate challenge is the time difference, so we might go for a video-based route and exchange videos, as well as talk about each other’s daily life and how they are similar and different.  Shang-Shi strives to provide global education to children’s life, being able to assist them finding opportunities for students only shows that we are living in a global village.”

Looking toward the future of arts education

As the Acting President of World Chinese Art Education Association, Cooper will organize the International Society for Education Through Art Asia Regional Congress in 2018 in Hong Kong with colleague Solan Wong, of the Education University of Hong Kong, and Kaitak Kwong, president of the Hong Kong Society of Education in Art.

Focusing on collaborative efforts to sustain greater arts education community, she said the conference aims to welcome groups from throughout Asia and south-east Asia. The congress will focus on the theme of “challenges and transformations,” or CT for short in connection to the type of body scan, and the goal will be to evaluate the next steps for arts education and embracing challenges within current educational systems.

“So many countries individually write their teaching standards, training standards and curriculum,” she said. “The fact that we can come together and work collaboratively and share ideas is a huge win for education. We all have a common goal that is focusing not only on the immediate results for our students, but the long-term value of their education. That is a good change.”

Cooper said it is true that many schools across the world have slowly began to narrow their scope on art, but through these types of international partnerships, arts associations around the globe hope that individuals will see the value and significance of arts in education, especially when combined with the traditional STEM fields.

“We need to make art visible,” she said. “Art brings people together. It transcends gender, age and physical boundaries and it’s an important part of a student’s education.”

By Maegan Murray

Wine is a $2 billion industry in Washington state, but many students will not be exposed to the science behind the field as a possible career option until they reach college. Thanks to the Partners in Science program, however, one high school teacher had the opportunity to shadow and complete research alongside a renowned wine science researcher and professor at Washington State University Tri-Cities – the science behind the experience, of which, he is now introducing to his high school students.

Fred Burke, science teacher at Chiawana High School, sets up equipment for a smoke taint trial at the WSU Prosser Research Extension vineyards. He was paired with Tom Collins, assistant professor of wine science at WSU Tri-Cities, to complete wine research the last two summers at WSU Tri-Cities as part of the Partners in Science program.

Fred Burke, a teacher at Chiawana High School, had the opportunity to shadow and complete research with Tom Collins, wine science researcher and assistant professor of wine science at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

“This experience has allowed me to show my students how the nature of science is more than what they experience through a text book and allow them to experience the techniques and capabilities of it in a real-world setting,” Burke said. “It has not only allowed me to participate in research that will have an impact in the wine industry today, but it also it makes doing science a lot more fun for my students.”

Through the Partners in Science program, which is supported by a $15,000 grant from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, high school teachers are paired with a university professor in their field and the pair spends two consecutive summers completing research. During the end of each summer experience, the teachers prepare a presentation on their research and how they plan to implement what they learn into their classroom setting. The university professors also get the value of an additional hand in the lab and in the high school teacher’s second summer, an experienced lab researcher to help with their studies.

As part of his research experience, Burke worked with Collins to characterize wine grape varieties using sophisticated research techniques known as gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. For the techniques, the researchers use devices that allow researchers to look into the intricate chemical and other properties of each type of grape for classification and categorization. Burke also had the chance to work with Collins to start a study analyzing the impact of wildfire smoke on wine grapes, which could hinder the taste and overall quality of the wine.

Tom Collins, assistant professor of wine science at WSU Tri-Cities, prepares smoking equipment for a smoke taint trial to evaluate the effect of smoke on wine grapes at the WSU Prosser Research Extension vineyards.

“Both projects are relevant to the classes we’re teaching,” Burke said. “In environmental science, we’re able to look at how the smoke impacts not only the wine grapes, but also the chemical components and properties of the wine.”

The study of the impact of wildfire smoke on wine captured the interest of the Washington wine industry, with Collins stating that since they announced they were completing the research, he gets calls throughout the year on updates for the research, results they’ve tabulated and generally how they can protect wine grapes from the exposure. The interest grows each year as the summer wildfire seasons commence.

“We got three calls today, alone, regarding smoke taint,” Collins said. “The fact that Fred has been able to be a part of this project provides him with a great in-depth look at how lab and field research have a substantial impact on industry. The Washington wine industry increases exponentially year, with the mid-Columbia region being a hub for the industry. So this research is crucial for our area’s winemakers.”

Last summer during Burke’s first of two summers working with Collins in the lab, the duo set up experiments at the WSU Prosser Research Extension to test different amounts of smoke on grape vines. They are now in the process of analyzing samples collected from that experiment. Collins plans on continuing the study for at least the next several years.

“Just being able to look at all the parts that go into a real-life field of scientific study has been immensely beneficial,” Burke said. “I get to share that with my students and they benefit from that real-world application. Within their science classes, our students have to conduct procedures, collect data and analyze that data through labs and lessons. This real-world experience allows me to show them that what they’re practicing in class can be applied out into the field, as well as provide them with concrete examples of stuff we’re actively doing in the labs.”

Burke also had the opportunity to bring some of his classes out to the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center to see how the research is conducted and get an idea of how a research lab operates.

“Science in agriculture is kind of one of those unknowns for many of my students,” he said. “They see people planting and watering, but they don’t know the science behind it. This provides them with an in-depth look. It’s a career option that most of my students probably have never even considered.”

Burke plans to apply for a supplemental grant from the Partners in Science program, which would extend his research partnership time frame with Collins and provide Burke with dollars for science equipment for his classroom.

“It would provide us with more money for use in the classroom, which would allow my students to conduct some research of their own,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – A method of converting a biofuel waste product into a usable and valuable commodity has been discovered by researchers at Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Converting algae to biofuels is a two-step process. The first, developed by PNNL, applies high pressure and high temperature to algae to create bio oil. The second converts that bio oil into biofuel, which can replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

It’s that first step, called hydrothermal liquefaction, that produces waste — approximately 25 to 40 percent of carbon and 80 percent of nutrients from the algae are left behind in wastewater streams.

Bionatural gas and fertilizer

The wastewater is generally hard to process because it contains a variety of different chemicals in small concentrations, said Birgitte K. Ahring, professor at WSU Tri-Cities’ Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory. But Ahring and her team have found that adapting anaerobic microbes — microbes that live without oxygen — to break down the remaining residue is a viable option. Through this process, the material becomes degradable and gets transformed into a bionatural gas without the use of harsh chemicals. The solid material that remains can also be applied as a fertilizer or recycled back into the hydrothermal liquefaction process for further use.

Birgitte Ahring, left, with his research team
WSU Professor Birgitte Ahring, center, points to test sample, with her research team

The results of the team’s research are published this month in Bioresource Technology. The team also consists of:

  • Keerthi Srinivas, WSU postdoctoral research associate
  • Sebastian Fernandez, WSU research assistant
  • Andrew Schmidt, of PNNL’s chemical and biological processes development group
  • Marie Swita, of PNNL’s chemical and biological processes development group

Don’t waste waste

“It has always been my mantra that we shouldn’t waste waste,” Ahring said. “We had an idea that we could turn this waste product into something useful, such as a fertilizer. Our findings revealed that we could use this waste product as something much more.”

The ability to convert a waste product into a usable commodity provides algal biorefineries with a solution to a large problem, Ahring said.

“After removing the solids, about 10 percent of the output is bio oil, with the remaining 90 percent being a waste byproduct,” Schmidt said. “The fact that we’ve developed an alternative method to recycle or treat the leftover material means it’s more economical to produce the bio oil, making the potential for commercial use of the process more likely.”

Sewage sludge and wastewater

Ahring said the team’s results were so promising that they are now partnering with PNNL on its conversion of sewage sludge to fuel using a similar strategy for the wastewater.

“Today, sewage sludge is found throughout the world,” Ahring said. “Creating a process to produce biofuels, bio-natural gas, and nutrients from this material would be of major importance. The current study has demonstrated that nothing should ever be regarded as a waste, but instead as a resource.”

Schmidt said PNNL’s partnership with WSU allowed each team to focus on different aspects of the biomass conversion.  The collaboration is further enhanced by the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory, a facility PNNL and WSU built together on the WSU Tri-Cities campus nearly a decade ago.

“PNNL and WSU researchers interacted frequently on the project,” said Schmidt.   “While PNNL engineers focused on converting the algae to bio oil, the WSU team was able to delve deeply into fundamental research of wastewater conversion with microbes, which included taking advantage of unique analytical capabilities on the PNNL campus.”

A WSU alumnus himself, receiving both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WSU, Schmidt said he’s excited to team on additional programs and projects aligned with goals to grow the collaboration between PNNL and WSU.



By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities, in partnership with the Pasco School District, was awarded a $500,000 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program grant to enhance before and after school programming at several elementary schools in Pasco.

The purpose of the federal grant is to support the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during nonschool hours. The program also provides support to families to increase family literacy and involvement within the school.

“This award is especially exciting because there were only nine grants awarded within the entire state, and this grant had one of the highest dollar amounts awarded,” said Jay Scott, director of 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Funds will support enhancing before and after school programming at Emerson Elementary School, Longfellow Elementary School, Rowena Chess Elementary School and Virgie Robinson Elementary School, all of which are in the Pasco School District.

Some examples of topics that could be implemented in the after school programs include: drama, chess, homework help, LEGO Robotics, archery, Minecraft, field trips, fire safety, rocketry and English language learning programs. The schools also will provide a four-week summer program focusing on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
“All of these programs would provide additional extracurricular and supplemental support for current classroom curriculum focuses,” Scott said.

WSU Tri-Cities will provide the space for summer programming for all four sites, in addition to providing general oversight of the programming and grant funding use and allocation.
For more information on the grant program, visit

Jay Scott, director, WSU 21st Century Community Learning Centers,
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,