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Faculty, Research & Programs

Ron Howell: A Life of Service to Others

By AnneMarie Hunter

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

— Nelson Mandela

By every measure, Ron Howell has made a difference in the lives of others.

As CEO of the Washington Research Foundation (WRF) for nearly three decades, Howell led programs to benefit public health across the state of Washington and around the world.

A Washington State University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry (’80), Howell joined … » More …

Neuroscientist Connects Study of Zebrafish to Human Communication

By AnneMarie Hunter

The gift of hearing and the art of communication are woven through the rich tapestry of Dr. Allison Coffin’s life and work.

It was a lone shark, swimming the Atlantic Ocean, that inspired the accomplished career of this neuroscience researcher and science communicator.

“One day when I was six years old, I was walking around a dock in the Florida Keys and a 3-foot-long nurse shark swam up to the dock,” Coffin recalled. “I absolutely fell in love. I was fascinated with that shark and knew right then I wanted to be a marine biologist.”

Coffin pursued her dream on an educational … » More …

DREAMS OF GREEN ENERGY TAKE FLIGHT

By AnneMarie Hunter

Two pencils + a 9-volt battery + water = hydrogen

The equation to produce hydrogen gas is relatively simple. The process to produce liquid hydrogen is not. Though it has the potential to be a vital green energy source, production of liquid hydrogen has long proved elusive for researchers and energy innovators.

“One kilogram of liquid hydrogen has the same energy as a gallon of gasoline but is much more efficient than burning gasoline,” said Dr. Jacob Leachman, associate professor in the Washington State University School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering. “It’s environmentally friendly, green energy. Water is its byproduct which … » More …

WSU Veterinary Cardiologist Advances Feline Health Through Research

By AnneMarie Hunter

“I call myself the wandering cardiologist,” said Dr. Ryan Baumwart, who joined Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2020.

Baumwart, a full-time professor in cardiology service, arrived in Pullman with a vast spectrum of experience, a vision for advancing animal health, and a lifetime of caring for animals.

This passion for healing was kindled in Baumwart’s childhood, and it started at Highland Veterinary Clinic in Arapaho, Oklahoma. Founded in 1981 by Ryan’s father, Dr. Alvin Baumwart, the clinic’s mission has been to give ‘every patient the same loving attention and care as if they were the doctors’ … » More …

Cosmic Crisp®: How a Bunch Made One Good Apple

By Cindy Hollenbeck

This is a story about how one amazing apple sweetened the bunch, and how a bunch of individuals created one amazing apple. Researchers, tree fruit growers, and industry partners from Washington state collaborated to develop and promote the Cosmic Crisp® WA 38 cv.—an apple that will have a “cosmic” effect on the world. The Cosmic Crisp® demonstrates how the science of breeding and the art of imagination can come together to make a new star apple.

Twenty-plus years after horticulturist Bruce Barritt took pollen from the Honeycrisp and placed it on the stigma of the Enterprise to produce seed, boxes of the … » More …

Dog’s Best Friend

WSU’s Katrina Mealey, Ph.D., DVM saving animal lives every day

 

Wheelchair-bound Tom Stark falls over unconscious while crossing the street with his service dog Hoover, an English Shepherd. After being rushed to the hospital, the staff believes Stark may have picked up a parasitic worm while traveling abroad and prescribes him an antiparastic drug. Sadly, before Stark can take the meds, Hoover, with his pale brown “eyebrows” and white paws, eats the handful of the pills and dies. Upon reflection, Dr. House notes, “Dogs with the MDR1 gene can die from certain antiparastic drugs.”

While many viewers of this 2007 episode of the medical … » More …

Collaborative Study on Biodegradable Mulch Can Create a Better Environment for All

In 2002, when Professor Carol Miles certified the first organic ground in the Washington State University Vancouver Research Extension Unit (REU), she used plastic mulch to keep the pernicious, abundant weeds at bay. Plastic mulch (made of polyethylene) reduces weed pressure, moderates soil temperature, conserves moisture, and results in higher crop yield. Disposing of used plastic mulch, however, crowds landfills, and causes pollution when it is burned or stockpiled. Fragments that remain in the field threaten soil health and the environment, endangering microorganisms, insects, fish, and mammals.

Early in her career at WSU Vancouver REU, Professor Miles started looking for biodegradable alternatives to plastic mulch … » More …

Taking research into the marketplace

thumbnail detail image of a spectrometer reading

Pocket Labs, the research team led by Lei Li, assistant professor in the Washington State University School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, is also a startup that began in Innovation Corps (I-Corps) in fall 2016. The National Science Foundation (NSF) developed the I-Corps program in 2011 to help move academic research from the lab to the marketplace. Last year, the NSF provided WSU with a three-year grant to make the University one of 51 others participating in the NSF National Innovation Network.

Led by the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, and in partnership with the Carson College of Business and College of Arts and … » More …

It Takes a Village to Create a Healthier World

Guy Palmer Paul Allen Global Animal Health Building

“When people say ‘it takes a village,’” Dr. Guy H. Palmer said, “they mean the power of many is greater than the power of one.” Meeting the goal of eliminating rabies as a cause of animal and human suffering by 2030 will indeed take a village. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, rabies takes the lives of nearly 60,000 people every year, including approximately 1,500 in Tanzania. Almost half of those are children under the age of 16.

Palmer, the Jack and Janet Creighton Endowed Chair in Global Health, Regents professor in the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine and founding director … » More …

Meet: Megan Slaker

Megan Slaker grew up in Maple Grove, Minnesota, and always lived within a two hours’ drive of her parents’ house. Even as a child, she remembers feeling incredibly homesick when she went off to summer camp, and again in high school, when she spent a month in Germany as an exchange student. “Moving half way across the country for graduate school,” Megan says, “was one of the scariest things I’ve done. But it’s proven to be one of the best decisions I made.”

It was during middle school when Megan first became interested in human behavior; specifically what caused some individuals to use or … » More …

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