WSUTC News

RICHLAND, Wash. — Israa Alshaikhli secured her second term as president of the Associated Students of Washington State University Tri-Cities for the 2017-18 school year and will serve with a new vice president – sophomore Zachary Harper.

Israa Alshaikhli is a junior majoring in biological sciences and hopes to one-day become a doctor. Harper is majoring in business administration.

ASWSUTC student leaders

2017-2018 ASWSUTC Vice President Zachary Harper (left) and ASWSUTC President Israa Alshaikhli

The duo ran on a platform of bringing innovation, inclusion, transparency, community and accessibility to all students on campus.

One of the team’s largest initiatives in the upcoming year will be transitioning the student government into the new student union building while maintaining the current student lounge as a student-centered space.

“It will be nice to have a large space that is entirely student-focused,” Alshaikhli said.

Alshaikhli said they are also excited about continuing to build the WSU Coug nation, further connecting all of the WSU campuses together to share resources and provide support for all students.

“It has been our goal to provide the right resources and support in order to build a campus community where everyone feels welcome and represented,” she said. “It feels good to continue what I started last year and improve for next year. One thing that made me really happy about getting reelected is that students trust me to finish what I started.”

Harper formerly served as ASWSUTC’s director of finance. He said he is excited to step into larger leadership role as vice president.

“I’ve had such a great experience serving with ASWSUTC and I’m now excited to work side-by-side with Israa to continue to improve our campus and our community,” he said.

The elected college-specific senators include:

  • Connor Burnham – School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Anjellica Ampil – College of Nursing
  • Tyler Schrag – College of Business
  • Essence Braggs – College of Arts and Science

To learn more about WSU Tri-Cities and its commitment to dynamic student engagement, dynamic research experience and dynamic community engagement, visit http://www.tricities.wsu.edu.

News media contacts:

Jeffrey Dennison, WSU Tri-Cities director of marketing and communications, 509-372-7319, jeffrey.dennison@wsu.edu

Brandon Fox, WSU Tri-Cities assistant director for the office of student life, 509-372-7300, Brandon.fox@tricity.wsu.edu

A collection of underground comics are featured this month as part of a new exhibition at the Washington State University Tri-Cities Art Center.

The exhibition, titled “A life Underground: Exploring WSU’s Alternative Comix Collection,” will be on display through April 30 at the Art Center in the university’s Consolidated Information Center (CIC) building.

"A Life Underground: Exploring WSU’s Alternative Comix Collection" opens April 6 at the WSU Tri-Cities Art Center.

“A Life Underground: Exploring WSU’s Alternative Comix Collection” opens April 6 at the WSU Tri-Cities Art Center.

All the comics featured in the exhibition are prints made from archived publications, featuring works from the “Steve Willis Comix and Small Press Collection” and the “Lynn R. Hansen Underground Comics Collection.” The comics are regularly housed at WSU Pullman’s Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections department.

A reception is being held from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, April 6, in the WSU Tri-Cities Art Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The exhibition was organized by Adam Whittier, a WSU Tri-Cities digital technology and culture student, who discovered the collection while participating in a conference at WSU Pullman. Whittier also received the help of Robert Franklin, an adjunct instructor, historian and assistant director of the Hanford History Project at WSU Tri-Cities, to curate the show.

A comic book fan, himself, Whittier said he wanted to bring the underground publications to light so that they may be used as a resource for students and community members.

“Comics are one of the most important, engaging and inclusive forms of media that we have available to us, as they have a way of bringing people together, and of being profound, simple and beautiful all at the same time,” he said. “Underground comics of the type in the archives are a snapshot of a peculiar period and worldview, preserved for the exploration and wonderment of future generations.”

Whittier said the collections are difficult for students from other WSU campuses to explore, as the publications are located in Pullman. But with the exhibit, he said he hopes to expose individuals to the diversity and range of underground comics and culture.

“We have a tremendous resource in these collections, and it would be an affront to the art and creativity of the underground cartoonists not to appreciate and share it,” he said.

The WSU Tri-Cities Art Center is open noon – 6 p.m. Monday –Thursday and by appointment.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities welcomes community participation in its annual service day 9 a.m-5 p.m. Friday, April 7.

As part of Cougar Pride Day, volunteers will bring new life to the tiered garden at the entrance of the West Building and the garden around the Cougar statue on campus. Participants will develop a new garden that embodies the Cougar spirit by spelling out “WSU” with a floral arrangement that will be visible to those driving onto campus.

Volunteers will receive a free Cougar Pride T-shirt, as well as free lunch from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. Those under the age of 18 will need parental consent to participate.

Cougar Pride day is a part of the Cougs in the Community program at WSU Tri-Cities, in which volunteers engage, network and have fun while sharing knowledge, skills and resources. For more information, contact Amber Eubanks, WSU Tri-Cities community engagement specialist, at 509-372-7106 or aeubanks@tricity.wsu.edu.

News media contacts:
Amber Eubanks, WSU Tri-Cities community engagement, 509-372-7106, aeubanks@tricity.wsu.edu
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333, maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

By Kaury Baucom, Viticulture & Enology

RICHLAND, Wash. – Connor Eck, a senior at Washington State University Tri-Cities originally from Del Mar, Calif., has been named a national Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education.

The fellowship provides learning and networking opportunities to teach students leadership and how to bring communities together for positive change. As a student winemaker in WSU’s Blended Learning program, Eck worked with local growers and winemakers to develop leadership skills, gain hands-on experience and exercise environmentally friendly winemaking practices.

“I aim to find a way to limit the amount of water used in the farming of grapes and during the winemaking process, while still producing a high-quality product,” he said.

“The cultivation of community-committed leaders has never been more crucial,” said Andrew Seligsohn, Campus Compact president. “Our country needs more people who know how to bring communities together.”

The fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, chose 273 students for the 2017 cohort. It is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.
News media contact:
Kaury Balcom, WSU viticulture and enology communications, 509-327-7223, kaury.balcom@wsu.edu

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities took third place among 21 teams at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge’s finals this week for their creation and business model presentation of a technology that converts lignin, a natural byproduct of plant-based materials, into biojet fuel.

Photo courtesy: Matt Hagen / UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship
Libing Zhang talks with people at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.

During the challenge, interdisciplinary student teams define an environmental problem, develop a solution, design and build a prototype, create a business plan that proves their solution has market potential and pitches their idea to 170 judges from throughout the Northwest who have expertise in cleantech, as well as to entrepreneurs and inventors, at a demo-day event.

The WSU Tri-Cities team, composed of postdoctoral researcher Libing Zhang and Manuel Seubert, a master’s in business administration student, advanced to the finals from an initial pool of 29 teams during the first round of the competition.

Paul Skilton, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of management, and Bin Yang, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of biological systems engineering, advised the team. The WSU Tri-Cities team also worked regularly with researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to prepare for the competition.

The team was presented with the Starbucks $5,000 prize for their third-place ranking in the final round of the competition.

Advancing biofuels

Zhang, team leader for the challenge, said the main benefits for their technology is that it takes lignin, a waste

Photo courtesy: Matt Hagen / UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship
Manuel Seubert presents at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.

product in the biorefineries and pulping process that is considered one of the most abundant renewable carbon sources on Earth, and turns it into an environmentally-friendly, cheap jet fuel that can potentially reduce the carbon emissions for commercial airlines.

“I see several advantages of the technology and hope we can scale it up for commercialization, which will help commercial airlines to achieve their goals in reducing greenhouse emissions,” she said.

Developing a commercial product

Seubert, team co-leader for the challenge, said their goal with the competition was to capture people’s attention for the value of their technology, while using the experience as a learning opportunity for their future in developing the lignin-based jet fuel product into a commercial business.

“The next challenge is to secure funding so that we can scale it up to an industrial scale,” he said. “We are

Libing Zhang displays a container of lignin

Photo courtesy: Matt Hagen / UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship
Libing Zhang displays a container of lignin

actively looking for funding sources at this point and are thinking about establishing a limited liability company, which will allow us to pursue small business grants.”

Zhang said raising awareness about the product was a crucial part of the competition experience.

“We want people to know that the technology for converting lignin to biojet fuel has a commercial value,” she said. “It is encouraging knowing that people care about the technology and see its potential for reducing the carbon footprint. Now, we hope to take the technology to the next level in the business world.”

Zhang is also the entrepreneurial lead on a National Science Foundation I-Corps lignin-to-biojetfuel project, which was awarded to Yang and his team.

Skilton said the project represents an excellence illustration of the cutting-edge, hands-on programming students experience at WSU Tri-Cities.

“This is an example of the kind of integrated project team work our MBA students come to WSU Tri-Cities to do,” he said.

The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge is the creation of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship in the Foster School of Business, in partnership with the University of Washington’s College of Engineering, College of the Environment, Clean Energy Institute, College of Built Environments and the Department of Biology.

Contacts:

Libing Zhang, WSU Tri-Cities recent doctoral graduate and postdoctoral researcher, libing.zhang@wsu.edu

Manuel Seubert, WSU Tri-Cities master’s in business administration student, manuel.seubert@wsu.edu

Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333, maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

By Maegan Murray

Jamie Silva hadn’t considered a career in the medical profession until he saw directly how he could use research and patient interaction to better medical care for all citizens, regardless of demographic.

The recent nursing graduate of Washington State University Tri-Cities said it was through the research experiences he observed through both as a community college student, as well as in his undergraduate experience through WSU Tri-Cities, that opened his eyes to the possibilities of medicine.

As a community college student in Wenatchee, Silva participated in a research experience where he completed research on algae that they used to replicate the behavior of cancer cells and observe treatment effectiveness. The effort tied directly in with what friends and family had experienced in their battles with cancer. It propelled Silva’s interest in the medical field.

“I’ve seen family and friends pressured into certain types of treatments and this made me realize that I could have an impact on how patients are consulted about treatment,” he said. “My aunt, for example, was pressured into chemotherapy right away. Since she didn’t really understand English, so she assumed that was the best route for her. I want patients to be able to better understand their options.”

Silva began focusing on how he could take his newfound passion for medical research and patient care to the next level and applied to WSU Tri-Cities’ competitive nursing program. The school, he said, provided a perfect blend of medical research and implementation of innovative patient medical care that he had sought for a future in the profession.

This year, he was named the undergraduate nursing student of the year for WSU Tri-Cities.

“I feel that the nursing program is really impactful,” he said. “I didn’t want to be in a lab all day. I wanted that patient interaction. I wanted to see how the research applies directly to and affects the patient. WSU Tri-Cities ended up being a perfect fit for that.”

Real-world experiences

Through his hands-on courses at WSU Tri-Cities, Silva learned about how cancer and other diseases impacted the human body, how to treat those ailments, about different medicines, as well as how to approach patients about possible treatment options.

Silva said his courses utilized innovative tools such as advanced medical mannequins that mimicked individuals with various ailments and allowed students to practice their medical procedures. Additionally, he learned from world-class nursing faculty that tied what the students were learning in the classroom to extracurricular opportunities outside the classroom.

“Some of my biggest highlights were actually the professors,” he said. “They really care about us and really want to make sure that we succeed, and in turn, that our patients succeed.”

Silva’s professors at WSU Tri-Cities helped pair him up with a practicum experience at the Kadlec Regional Medical Center where his work focused specifically in research and administration. Through the experience, Silva attended meetings with physicians, nurse navigators and dietitians where they discussed cases, what worked best for individual patient cases, as well as what needed some changes. They then applied those strategies directly to their patient care.

Through the practicum, Silva also completed a research project that detailed how the hospital could reduce the time that patients suffer from neutropenia — a condition where the patient has an abnormally low count of a type of white blood cell, causing their immune system to be weak and creating a higher risk of infection. Neutropenia occurs in about half of people who receive chemotherapy. It is also a common side effect for people with leukemia.

“We compiled data on the time from when the patient walked in, to when they received antibiotics, the type of antibiotics they used and when those particular antibiotics were administered,” he said. “I compiled all of that data and showed it to the chief of nursing. It was a pretty informative experience and I hope it helps to make a difference in the lives of future patients.”

During his time at WSU Tri-Cities, Silva also gained admittance into a highly competitive summer internship through the National Institute of Health in Washington, D.C. Through the experience, Silva studied the latest and greatest methods for combatting cancer using the patient’s immune system.

“I would get to the laboratory and would have a research experiment in mind and I would write a protocol and conduct that experiment,” he said. “Some of those experiments involved observing how certain treatments would impact rats with cancer. I would also examine all the organs within the rat and see how effective the treatment was.”

Silva said he didn’t really realize it at the time, but he got the opportunity to work with some of the nation’s leading scientists and medical researchers.

“It was a pretty extraordinary experience,” he said.

Silva’s future in medical care

Silva said he hopes to take the experience he has had through WSU Tri-Cities, his experience at Kadlec, as well as his experience through the National Institute of Health to further improve the standard for patient care, as well as create and improve upon current and future cancer treatments.

“My friends and family who have had cancer have been the driving force with where I want to go and the influence I hope to have in the medical field,” he said. “It’s why I went into nursing.”

His end goal, he said, is to one-day become a physician focusing on cancer immunology. Because of his experience at WSU Tri-Cities, the WSU medical school is on his list of potential medical schools he hopes to gain acceptance to into the future.

“The nursing program at WSU Tri-Cities was more than impactful,” he said. “I learned how I could advocate for people with these diseases, the research behind those diseases, as well as how to combat those diseases through research into different treatment options.”

“I want to take a little bit of time working as a nurse and then apply what I’ve learned through my undergraduate courses, my experience as a nurse, as well as what I am going to learn through medical school in my future as a physician,” he said.

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Visitors will use MP3 players and smartphones to step into the life of a human trafficking victim for the multisensory experience, “SOLD: The Human Trafficking Experience,” 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, April 4 and 5, in Consolidated Information Center 120/120A at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Suited for those age 13 and older, the free experience combines technology with true stories to educate visitors about human trafficking locally and globally through the lives of victims in nine parts of the world. Developed by the nonprofit Christian organization Mirror Ministries, the experience travels regionally and nationally.

A “recovery room” at the end informs participants about what is being done for human trafficking victims and how they can help. Visitors will also be encouraged to blog about their experience in the exhibition.

“Human trafficking is a pervasive evil that is largely unknown and misunderstood,” said Amber Bruce, communications director for Mirror Ministries. “Shedding light on this issue is the first step in combating it. When we are aware, we can make a difference.”

For more information about the exhibition, visit http://www.soldexp.org.

 

News media contact:
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333, maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy to host a new lecture series focusing on the Hanford Site and the DOE’s current and future missions at the site.

The kick-off lecture covers the history of Hanford and begins at 3 p.m. March 27 in West Building room 256 at WSU Tri-Cities. Students, faculty and the community are welcome for the presentation.

As a large percentage of the current workforce becomes eligible for retirement in the next five years, the DOE and its contractors are actively recruiting interns and staff in a broad scope of professional and technical jobs. Linking DOE operations with faculty, students, and the community, this series focuses on opportunities and key challenges to be solved by today’s and tomorrow’s workers.

Carrie Meyer, director of public affairs for the DOE’s Office of River Protection, will present during the first lecture on March 27. She joined the Office of River Protection in 2007 and has 23 years of experience in communications, marketing, information management and public affairs in government, engineering and nuclear power industries. She has completed assignments for the assistant secretary of energy for environmental management and the secretary of energy, focusing on congressional interactions, policy, tribal nation engagement and communications.

The lecture on March 27 will be broadcast live at WSU Pullman, WSU Vancouver, WSU North Puget Sound at Everett and WSU Spokane via the campus AMS video streaming service.

For more information, contact Tish Christman at 509-372-7683.

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have found a new way to define the molecular structure of cellulose, which could lead to cheaper and more efficient ways to make a variety of crucial bioproducts.

For the first time, researchers revealed the differences between the surface layers and the crystalline core of cellulose by combining spectroscopy processes that use infrared and visible laser beams to analyze the structure of molecular components. The findings appear this month in Scientific Reports, an online open-access journal produced by the Nature Publishing Group (http://www.nature.com/articles/srep44319).

The spectroscopy processes are known as Total Internal Reflection Sum Frequency Generation Vibrational Spectroscopy (TIR-SFG-VS) and conventional SFG-VS.

Making biofuels, bioproducts cost-competitive

Bin Yang, co-author and WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of biological systems engineering, said cellulose is one of the most abundant organic compounds on Earth. Understanding the cellulosic biomass recalcitrance, or resistance to degradation, at the molecular level is a key step toward overcoming the fundamental barrier to making cellulosic biofuels cost-competitive, he said.

“Cellulose is commonly known as a product that is difficult to break down and convert into other useful products,” said co-author Hongfei Wang, former chief scientist in the physical sciences division at PNNL and current professor of chemistry at Fudan University in Shanghai. “Using our nonlinear vibrational spectroscopic technique, we can resolve some questions associated with the recalcitrance of cellulosic biomass and, in turn, more efficiently convert the product into a usable commodity.”

Yang said that although plant cell walls are complex and dynamic, recent advances in analytical chemistry and genomics have substantially enhanced understanding of cellulosic biomass recalcitrance while simultaneously highlighting the remaining knowledge gaps.

Understanding structure opens industrial possibilities

“This discovery is significant because it not only challenges the traditional understanding of cellulose materials, it provides further insight into the surface and bulk chemistry of cellulosic fibers, building on a novel spectroscopic tool to characterize such structural differences,” said Arthur J. Ragauskas, Governor’s Chair in biorefining for Oak Ridge National Laboratory and at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is an expert on the subject, but not involved in the research.

He said the discovery of the nonuniformity and the structure of cellulose in the study can improve the efficiency of industrial application of cellulose.

“The discovery may lead to modification of the current definitions of the different types of cellulose structures,” he said. “This discovery represents yet another instance of the importance of spectroscopic observations in transformative advances to understand the structure of the cellulosic biomass.”

Libing Zhang

Libing Zhang

Libing Zhang, co-author and postdoctoral researcher at WSU Tri-Cities, called it a privilege to participate in such a significant discovery while utilizing such advanced technology, especially knowing that it could have a profound impact on the advancement of bioproducts.

“We can use the application of this technology to fundamentally understand the conversion process of nearly every cellulose-based product in the future,” she said.

Researchers at WSU and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at PNNL collaborated on the study. Yang’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award and the SFG capability and expertise at EMSL, an Office of Science user facility of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy, made the study possible. It is DOI:10.1038/srep44319.

Zhang, Yang, Li Fu, a William Wiley Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow formerly at EMSL, and Wang conducted the research.

 

News media contacts:
Bin Yang, WSU Tri-Cities biological systems engineering, 509-372-640, binyang@tricity.wsu.edu
John Nicksich, EMSL communications, 509-375-7398, john.nicksich@pnnl.gov
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-333, maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

Alejandra Cardoso, a recent graduate of Washington State University Tri-Cities, was chosen as one of three representatives from Washington state to participate in the Council for Opportunity in Education’s National Policy Seminar March 19-22 in Washington, D.C.

The seminar affords the TRIO and GEAR UP communities the opportunity to help educate members of Congress, congressional staff and the president’s administration officials about the history and success of the programs, while giving the participants a chance to represent the interests and desires of low-income and first-generation students, veterans, adult learners and students with disabilities in the policy arena.

“It is really an honor,” Cardoso said. “What I’m looking forward to most about the conference is the opportunities to develop myself as a leader, as well as the opportunity to connect with other students with both similar and different backgrounds.”

Cardoso said she hopes to use the experience to share her own story of how the TRIO program at WSU Tri-Cities helped her be successful in her academics, which led her to successfully obtaining a position as a crime victim advocate with the Support, Advocacy and Resource Center in Kennewick, Wash., immediately following graduation last spring.

Cardoso said she was raised in an environment where school wasn’t considered valuable. She said she dropped out of school her junior year of high school, and that it wasn’t until after she had her first child at 17 that she considered going back to school to complete her high school diploma. The TRIO program, both at the community college level, as well as at WSU Tri-Cities, helped ensure her success in obtaining a bachelor’s in psychology.

“I never really saw myself as a college student,” she said. “What really got me interested in going when when I first worked at my first job at WorkSource. Seeing the social workers there inspire me to drive for my own success in that field. The TRIO program at WSU Tri-Cities kept me on track toward obtaining that goal.”

After transferring from Yakima Valley College to WSU Tri-Cities, Cardoso said she got really involved in the TRIO program, which provided her with support services ranging from tutoring, to counseling about academic and person-related issues and much more.

“The TRIO staff always try to help you as best as they can,” she said. “Just knowing that there was someone out there looking out for me and willing to help me, as long as I was willing to help myself, was crucial.”

In her current role as a crime victim advocate for SARC, Cardoso is fulfilling her dream of helping individuals get out of their despairing situations in order to live a better and more prosperous life. Specifically, she helps victims of harassment, assault, child abuse, identity theft and more.

“I’m the first person in my family to graduate from high school, let alone a university,” she said. “Now, I’m working on my master’s, which will allow me to further help individuals suffering with dangerous and undesirable situations. TRIO and WSU Tri-Cities helped me get to where I’m at now. I’m excited to share my story with others at the national policy seminar and I hope that I can help inspire positive change at the national level.”

For more information on the national policy seminar, visit http://www.coenet.org/policy_seminar.shtml.