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Brian Charles Clark

Winter 2016

Wood Takes Wing

The most complex chemistry lab on the planet is growing in your neighborhood. There might be a tree in your own backyard, cranking out chemicals as it converts sunlight to food, wards off pests, and circulates water and nutrients through it roots, branches, and leaves.

So diverse is the chemical compendium produced by trees that we get aspirin (willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid and has been used to treat pain since ancient times), the ink Leonardo used in his notebooks (from leaf galls produced by wasp larvae), and natural antibacterials (the fiber in cedar chips is used to make hospital gowns).

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Winter 2016

Breaking through

Paul Henning ’98 didn’t set out to be a professional musician. “I swore up and down I wasn’t going to be a music major or study music—but then, look what I did!” he says.

He moved to Los Angeles where he made a lot of phone calls looking for work as a session player, orchestrator, or proofreader of musical scores—and ended up working with John Williams on the music for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Over the course of 60 years, John Williams has scored over 100 films and taken home five Oscars. All his scores, Henning says, start with Williams at the piano … » More …

Winter 2016

Prevention of cruelty to animals

A teenaged Marvin Mackie ’63 DVM was working all summer on the family farm at the end of the rail line in Buhl, Idaho, wondering what to do with his life.

“One day I saw a cloud of dust coming down the gravel road. It was the veterinarian and he was going to go save an animal. And the light came on.” Off Mackie went, first to the University of Idaho for his undergraduate degree, and then next door to Washington State University for his doctorate of veterinary medicine.

Mackie ended up in southern California, where he loved the weather and found lots of work. … » More …

Retreat from a Rising Sea: Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change cover
Winter 2016

Retreat from a Rising Sea

Retreat from a Rising Sea: Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change cover

Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change

Orrin H. Pilkey ’57, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, and Keith C. Pilkey

Columbia University Press: 2016

 

Our planet’s rapidly changing climate will make the bursting of the real estate bubble look like a picnic on a sunny spring day. Upside-down equity and underwater mortgages don’t begin to describe the scope of what rising sea levels … » More …

We Gotta Get out of this place
Fall 2016

We Gotta Get Out of this Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

We Gotta Get out of this place

Doug Bradley ’74 and Craig Werner

University of Massachusetts Press: 2015

Music is embodied, a word that means it grabs you by the guts until you do something: dance, weep, make love … something. Music is visceral in another way, too: We connect the dots of our personal histories based on the tunes we were listening to at the time.

For a veteran, that might be more than she … » More …

Pardon My French
Fall 2016

Pardon My French: How a Grumpy American Fell in Love with France

Pardon My French

Allen Johnson ’85 PhD

Yucca Publishing: 2015

Funny, sexy, smart. If I only had three words in which to tell you about the pleasures of Allen Johnson’s Pardon My French, those’d be the ones.

Johnson spent a year in France with his wife, Nita, and Pardon My French relates their adventures in short vignettes arranged thematically.

One of the themes is that the French are not like us: They have their own special … » More …

Fall 2016

Victoria Tung ’96

Some traveled for three days through the humid air of Vietnam to get to the clinic offered by Victoria Tung ’96 and her colleagues.

“We were in one of the poorest regions of Vietnam,” Tung says. Over the course of a week, the all-volunteer Venture to Heal team offered two clinics, treating nearly 1,300 people. “We had a 67-year-old man who had never before seen a health care provider.”

“I have always been interested in global health issues and in serving people in underprivileged areas,” Tung says. That passion led her to her first jobs after graduating from WSU with a nutrition degree, working as … » More …

Fall 2016

Bob Olds ’64, DVM ’67

If you want to get to know Bob Olds ’64, DVM ’67, just ask Lizzy. Sure, Lizzy is a dog and can’t speak, but her story speaks volumes.

Found beaten on the streets of Tijuana, Lizzy’s jaw was so badly damaged she couldn’t close her mouth, and could neither eat nor drink. Rescued by members of a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, The Forgotten Dog, Lizzy got a complicated, pro bono surgery that repaired the damage to her jaw. The surgeon? Bob Olds. Lizzy is now a happy, normal dog.

Olds always wanted to be a vet. Kids love animals, he says, and he never had any … » More …

Fall 2016

The glassblowers

Glass is a snob, and that’s a good thing for science. For the most part, glass doesn’t interact with other substances. Essentially inert, glass is perfect for containing the otherwise uncontainable: strong acids, bases, and solvents.

Glass is, of course, also fragile. That’s why Norbert Kruse, a chemical engineer at WSU, had to take a glassblowing class when he was a chemistry student in Berlin in the early 1970s.

“We had to do our own repairs!” Kruse recalls. These days, researchers at WSU don’t have to know glassblowing to keep their labs running. Scientific glassblower Aaron Babino takes care of that.

WSU contracts with Babino, … » More …

Smart couture thumb. Image from UDK Berlin
Summer 2016

Smart couture

Wearable electronics are leaving the lab and hitting the runway

From smart phones to FitBits, mobile electronics have been woven into the very fabric of our lives. But things are about to get a lot more literal as e-devices begin to be incorporated into the clothing we wear.

Imagine a “smart” shirt or other item of clothing that can monitor your biometrics and ping your doctor when something is out of the ordinary. Or, to manage diabetes, we’ll use a contact lens or pair of glasses to monitor blood glucose levels—and leave behind forever the expensive and annoying finger prick test kit. But wearable … » More …