Washington State University Tri-Cities Tag

By Maegan Murray

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

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

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

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

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

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

An enhanced scholastic experience

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

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

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

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

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

Giving back, giving forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diversity of scholars and benefit to students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student findings

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

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

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

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

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

Impact on Grace Clinic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real-world benefit to students

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

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

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

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

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

By Maegan Murray

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

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

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

Scope of the project

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating and refining the platform

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

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

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

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

A partnership that prepares students for success in computer science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. – Neon rainbow pathways, smoldering ember-lit caves, eerie forests and bridges that lead to mystical lands, are just some of what individuals experience in virtual reality environments created by students as part of a fine arts sculpture course at Washington State University Tri-Cities this semester.

Student experiments with sculpting in virtual reality

WSU Tri-Cities student Alana Ahquin sculpts an environment in virtual reality.

Jonah Firestone, assistant professor of education and director of the Simulation and Integrated Media for Instruction Assessment and Neurocognition (SIMIAN) Lab, first approached Sena Clara Creston, clinical assistant professor of fine arts and digital technology and culture, this semester about using the virtual reality technology in the lab as a means for student course work in the arts.

Creston decided to have her students explore the medium to create 3-D settings that can then be enjoyed and explored by others.

She said typically with art, students are limited in what they can create, as it has physical and monetary limitations. Using Google’s Tilt Brush program in virtual reality, however, students can create 3-D masterful creations that extend beyond what is physically available in the traditional art sphere.

Students created three environments using virtual reality software

Students created three different, but detailed, environments using virtual reality software as part of a sculpting class at WSU Tri-Cities.

“It’s an opportunity for students to create within the parameters of their imagination, rather than within their physical parameters,” she said.

Using imagination to explore beyond physical limits

Students worked in three teams, each group intricately designing and planning for what they would include in their environments. Using basic tools, much similar in scope and style of the Paint program on the Microsoft operating system, the students created complex worlds, each with their own flare and style that encompassed 360-degree views of colorful landscapes.

Student Athena Marquez said even though the parameters of the program were simple in concept, it forced them to use their imaginations to bring scenes and objects to life.

“It’s really freeing,” she said. “You had to use your imagination to create a whole environment.”

One of the teams created a world featuring neon and bright pulsating lights, rainbow paths, banana peels and monsters, inspired by that of Nintendo Mario Kart’s rainbow road. Another group created an enigmatic world that featured a dark and mysterious cloud-like environment featuring archways of trees that led to a cave that showcased flickering golden embers. The last group created an extravagantly detailed dual environment that first welcomes the viewer into a cloud-like nebula that then encourages the viewer to enter into a fantastical forest featuring rich trees, waterfalls, pools and other features.

The students were required to spend a minimum of 20 hours in the lab, but many ended up spending more than 30 hours working on their environments.

A hands-on, enriching experience

“I didn’t know what to think about it, at first,” fine arts student Audrey Danielson said. “But as soon as you started doing it, you become crazy about it. It definitely gave me a great perspective on what is possible with art. There is so much space and you’re free to create these large environments that other people can then explore.”

Experimenting with virtual reality environments

WSU Tri-Cities student Adam Whittier logs into a virtual reality environment that he created with a group of students in a sculpture course at WSU Tri-Cities before putting on the VR headset to immerse himself into that environment.

Student Adriana Iturbe said what she enjoyed most about the project was the fact that it blends elements of art with elements of technology and engineering.

“I think this is something that many more students should experience,” she said. “As an engineering major, what I like is seeing and exploring the connections between disciplines and using those different disciplines to bring a project to life. This project really does open your mind to other experiences.”

Student Adam Whittier said he hopes the opportunity is extended to students from a variety of different backgrounds, as it provides a learning experience like no-other that is useful to the students’ diverse academic tenure.

“There are so many capabilities,” he said.

Creston is now partnering with Bob Lewis, associate professor of computer science, and his graduate student Antonio Ledesma, on an interactive virtual reality art environment. Lewis is planning on teaching a course to program interactive environments. Creston plans to partner with him and his students to conceptualize, design and program these interactive environments.

“We want to make these environments interactive, instead of just static,” she said.

For more information on the SIMIAN Lab at WSU Tri-Cities, contact Firestone at jonah.firestone@wsu.edu. For more information on the digital technology and culture program at WSU Tri-Cities, visit https://tricities.wsu.edu/cas/undergraduate/fine-arts/.

By John Sutherland, University Communications

Sandra Haynes

RICHLAND, Wash. – Sandra Haynes, a senior administrator at Metropolitan State University of Denver, is the new chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities.

WSU President Kirk Schulz announced Haynes’ hiring Monday, Dec. 18. She will begin her duties on March 1.

As chancellor, Haynes will function as the chief executive officer, representing the campus in the community, guiding campus growth and advocating for WSU Tri-Cities within the WSU statewide system of campuses.

Haynes currently is deputy provost and vice president of academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Human Services at MSU Denver. She oversees all academic affairs units. Previously she was dean of the university’s College of Professional Studies for 13 years.

Ideal skills to advance goals

“Sandra’s leadership skills and collaborative approach to building innovative partnerships promises an exciting future for WSU Tri-Cities as we continue to grow enrollment, academic programs and facilities,” Schulz said. “Her expertise also will shape the pivotal role WSU Tri-Cities will play in achieving our systemwide goal of becoming a top 25 public research university by 2030.”

Expanding WSU’s partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, as well as continuing to ensure access to higher education for residents of eastern Washington, are among the priorities the president has identified for the new chancellor.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as chancellor of WSU Tri-Cities,” Haynes said. “I look forward to playing a role in the important contributions the campus makes in the Columbia Basin area through quality instruction and the advancement of life-changing research. I am also excited to join the vibrant and engaged Tri-Cities community.”

Haynes’ achievements at Metropolitan State University Denver include identifying alternative sources of funding for the university by creating public-private partnerships and interdisciplinary programs to meet community and workforce needs. She also established best practices for the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty.

Haynes is a licensed psychologist and has authored several articles and book chapters. Her research interests range from topics in neuropsychology to philosophical issues regarding punishment to applied topics in human services and psychology and in higher education. She earned her doctorate and master’s degrees in experimental neuropsychology at Colorado State University, where she also competed a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Haynes was one of four finalists for the chancellorship following a nationwide search. The finalists recently visited the WSU Tri-Cities and Pullman campuses, where they met students, faculty, staff and members of the community. Haynes replaces H. Keith Moo-Young, who served as chancellor for more than four years.

WSU Tri-Cities

WSU Tri-Cities enrolls 1,937 students, more than 70 percent of whom study STEM-related academic disciplines. The campus offers 20 undergraduate and 33 graduate degrees.

WSU Tri-Cities student body is the most diverse among the university’s six campuses, with 38.9 percent of students identifying as minorities. WSU Tri-Cities hosts six university colleges, including Nursing, Medicine, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Agricultural, Human and Natural Sciences, as well as the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The campus is home to the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory, a WSU-PNNL managed research and teaching laboratory.

In 2015, the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center, one of the most technologically advanced wine science centers in the world, opened at WSU Tri-Cities.

Construction of on-campus housing recently began and is expected to open next August.

The campus is also home to the region’s largest alternative teaching certification program and the Hanford History Project.



  • Phil Weiler, vice president for marketing and communication, 509-335-4742, weiler@wsu.edu
  • Jeffrey Dennison, director of marketing and communication, WSU Tri-Cities, 509-372-7319, jeffrey.dennison@wsu.edu.

Wine industry professionals seeking to advance their position or learn more about wine science may benefit from Washington State University’s online wine business management certificate. 

Registration for fundamentals of the wine business, the first of six modules offered by the Carson College of Business at WSU Tri-Cities, is open until  midnight, January 1,  at http://bit.ly/2A4nTgG. Students may register for individual modules or the entire one-year certificate.

Instructors include wine-industry experts, business and law professionals, and hospitality professors. Because the wine business management program is taught online, students can complete studies at their own pace within each module.

One unique aspect of the certificate is the wine business resident experiences. Students enrolled in the full certificate participate in two, off-site, hands-on wine experiences. The first introduces the strategic management wine project in Richland. Its proximity to the Red Mountain AVA, a designated American viticultural area in Benton County, Washington, exposes students to an agricultural region that distinctly makes Washington wine unique. The second residency at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Woodinville aims to immerse students in Washington’s wine business hub.

For more information about the wine business management certificate, call the Wine Beverage Business Management program at 509-335-5766 or email darcie.bagott@wsu.edu.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Students will present on their research, course projects and art from noon – 1 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Dec. 12-14, as part of the Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition - Spring 2017Members of the public are invited to attend the student presentations. The sessions will be in Consolidated Information Center room 120, with Thursday’s presentations also in the Art Gallery and SIMIAN Lab, located on the second floor of the library.

Allison L. Matthews, WSU Tri-Cities clinical assistant professor of psychology, said that the symposium provides students with the opportunity to showcase their research designs and findings, in addition to providing them with the public experience of communicating those results to a wide audience.

“This event is a great way for our students to present their scholarship, creative works and real-world research that has the potential for advancing discovery and knowledge in a range of academic subjects,” she said. “The Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition allows our students to showcase these projects and highlight their accomplishments.”

Academic areas highlighted during the symposium include: biology, computer science, English, fine arts, history, political science and psychology.

Some of the projects include:

  • Partnering with PNNL to write software that helps advance informatics and instrumentation to help understand fundamental biology, including aiding cancer research.
  • Evaluating the composition of macroinvertebrate samples from the Tucannon River.
  • Exploring how dystopian literature reflects the culture and social anxieties of a given time period.
  • Using quantitative analysis to help establish patient demographics and to assess the relationship between mental health and blood sugar levels – a partnership with the Grace Clinic in Kennewick.
  • Creating virtual reality environments through the use of the Simian Lab on campus.
  • Partnering with CypherPath to write software that can analyze network traffic, which can be used for cyber security.



Allison L. Matthews, WSU Tri-Cities clinical assistant professor of psychology, 509-372-7146, almatthews@wsu.edu

Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations spe

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Vincent Danna (’17) was in middle school when he lost all of his hair.

He suffers from a condition known as alopecia universalis, which is when the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. His personal struggle led him to want to become a dermatologist and help those who experience serious skin diseases and other ailments.

Vincent Danna (left) and brother

Vincent Danna’s brother (right) decided to shave his head in support of Vincent when he lost all of his hair in middle school.

“It sounds silly,” he said, “but my experience really spiked my interest in wanting to help other people through medicine.”

His passion led him to pursue a degree in biological sciences at Washington State University Tri-Cities, which in turn helped him land an internship at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He continues to conduct cancer research with the computational biology group at PNNL.

He plans to use both experiences to get into a good medical school so that as a doctor, he can help others with similar and more serious medical conditions.

Real-world cancer research

At PNNL, Danna and his colleagues are analyzing ovarian cancer data in order to digitally categorize the productivity of what are called kinases. Kinases are enzymes within a cell that modify proteins and play a major role in the process of cell division.

Under the supervision of his PNNL mentor, Jason McDermott, Danna’s research focuses on identifying whether certain kinases are significantly overregulated or underregulated within cancer cells, which could demonstrate how kinases lead to the formation of malignant tumors. Targeting dysregulated kinases, he said, has the potential to stop the spread of the cancer, or to prevent it from developing altogether.

WSU Tri-Cities alumnus Vincent Danna

WSU Tri-Cities alumnus Vincent Danna

This spring, the team analyzed kinase data from 69 ovarian cancer patients. Danna said their results are promising.

“Cancer is essentially the over-replication of cells,” Danna said. “Chemotherapy targets fast-growing cells, but that can affect the whole body, as well as normal cells, which is why patients typically lose their hair. With our research, we hope to target something more specific, like a kinase or a gene.”

In the future, he said individuals may be able to take a drug or another inhibitor to suppress or better regulate those kinases.

“Targeted therapy is recognized as being one of the healthier and more beneficial methods in treating patients with ovarian cancer,” he said.

Danna and his colleagues at PNNL are now investigating whether dysregulated kinases have implications for phenotypes. Phenotypes are an organism’s gene-expressed observable characteristics, such as hair color. The outcome could help predict a patient’s lifespan and ability to fight ovarian cancer.

“The goal of that research is improving that patient’s quality of life and and to give them a better estimation of what they’re dealing with,” he said.

Additionally, Danna and other PNNL researchers are using similar processes to examine patient resistance or sensitivity to a type of cancer treatment called platinum therapy. The therapy uses platinum compounds to produce changes in the DNA structure as a way of treating specific cancers, including ovarian cancer.

Medical school and beyond

Danna said his science and statistics courses at WSU Tri-Cities gave him the ideal foundation for being successful with his work at PNNL. He said gaining the biological knowledge, as well as developing the statistical analysis skills to understand the computational side of writing code and programming through his internship, is what gave him the background to be successful with his position at PNNL.

Combining his academic knowledge with the opportunity to work on research that has real-world medical applications, has given him a realistic look at how medical research is done, and as a result, is experience he can someday use as a doctor, he said.

“It feels good that the research I’m completing will hopefully make a difference in the lives of future cancer patients,” he said.

Danna plans to take the Medical College Admission Test this spring and apply to medical schools soon afterward. He is currently considering the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine as an option.

Looking to the future, he is excited to lead his own medical initiatives that one-day might positively impact the lives of patients.

“I know what it’s like to suffer from a condition that can affect your physical and even emotional well-being,” Danna said. “I hope to make a difference in the lives of my own patients, someday.”

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

DOE logoRICHLAND, Wash. – A federal project director from the U.S. Department of Energy will discuss how the Hanford waste treatment plant will immobilize radioactive waste by turning it into glass as part of a continuing lecture series from 3-4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, in the Washington State University Tri-Cities East Auditorium.

The presentation will be led by Jason Young, federal project director at the Office of River Protection’s analytical laboratory and balance of facilities office. The presentation is the fifth in a series of lectures focusing on the Hanford Site and is cohosted by WSU Tri-Cities and the U.S. Department of Energy. The public is invited to attend.

During his presentation, Young also will describe how the “direct feed low activity waste” approach at the Hanford Site will enable treatment as soon as 2022. Additionally, he will outline the cooperative efforts needed to support their operations.

Young joined the Office of River Protection in 2008. He previously worked for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a shift test engineer in the nuclear engineering division and later served as the reactor plant technical expert for the radiological emergency planning division.

Young holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lander University and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Montana State University.



  • Tish Christman, WSU Tri-Cities administrative assistant, 509-372-7683, christman@wsu.edu
  • Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333, murray@wsu.edu

Preliminary research to be scaled into larger effort analyzing trends in wine industry entrepreneurship

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – From renowned winemaking regions to those that aren’t typically known for winemaking, business faculty from Washington State University Tri-Cities are studying why people start wineries in locations across the United States.

VineyardWine is currently made in every state in the nation; however, there are wineries located in regions that may not be suitable for grape growing or that don’t have a heavy foundation in wine entrepreneurship, said Rhonda Hammond, WSU Tri-Cities assistant professor of hospitality business and wine beverage business management.

Study examines winemakers’ motivations

“There is a gap in data regarding entrepreneurship in the wine industry,” Hammond said. “There hasn’t been a lot of research conducted on wine entrepreneurship in the United States. Not all winemakers are established in the places best for winemaking.”

Hammond, Byron Marlowe, clinical assistant professor and wine and beverage business management program coordinator, and Paul Skilton, associate professor of management, want to understand winemakers’ motivations and analyze major themes in entrepreneurship for wineries across the industry

In spring 2017, the researchers examined 307 U.S. wineries and vineyards as identified by Wine America, the national association of American wineries. They analyzed web and other digital media information to determine why wine makers chose various winery locations, and to see if location impacted success.

Location familiarity may trump best growing climate 

Hammond said their initial research indicates some winery owners, especially for those in regions that aren’t known for wine, may have sought out locations based on familiarity, regardless of whether the region’s soil, atmosphere, reputation and other conditions were conducive for winemaking. Others may import their fruit juice from other locations, she said.

“If people are already familiar with a place, then it makes it easier for them to be aware of opportunities and feel more comfortable starting a business in that location,” she said. “Some may also be able to import grape juice. Just because they may not be able to grow the grapes there, doesn’t mean they won’t be able to get the juice to produce wine.”

Hammond said wineries located in climates unsuitable for grape growing may also make wine with other fruits.

“The definition of wine is fermented fruit juice,” Hammond said “Hawaii, for example, is making pineapple wine. With the ability to transport juices, winemakers can utilize materials from other regions.”

The researchers plan to expand their research into a more extensive study where they will reach out to wineries across the country to assemble in-depth information about the wineries’ beginnings.

“We are hoping this can give us some direction and hopefully turn into something much bigger for the betterment of the wine industry,” Hammond said.