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Nella Letizia

Matthew Whiting with UFO cherry orchard system
Fall 2012

Cherries in two dimensions

Two-year-old trees in the WSU Roza Experimental Orchards near Prosser are the first step in transforming a 100-year-old production system for sweet cherries. The trees’ unique branches, called upright fruiting offshoots (UFOs), form the core of a novel architecture suited for mechanized harvesters in sweet cherry orchards of the future.

Planted at an angle, young trees are trained to grow on a two-dimensional plane, putting more of their effort into developing a fruiting wall instead of the nonproductive wood in a traditional, three-dimensional canopy.

The UFO tree architecture is taking off around the world, says Matthew Whiting ’01 PhD, associate professor of horticulture at the … » More …

Fall 2003

Wings to Fly

Mia Song Swartwood hovered over the Gladish Auditorium stage on pointe, adorned in vibrant plumage of gold, teal, and purple, arms stretched skyward, joyous in flight. Cast in the lead role of The Sparrow Queen, the May 10 inaugural production of Pullman’s Graham Academy of Contemporary Ballet, Swartwood embodied the free spirit that ultimately unites two estranged sisters in the ballet based on a Japanese fairy tale.

Swartwood’s own life is something of a fairy tale that began in South Korea. Left at a local Catholic Children’s Services Center in Inchon the day she was born, Swartwood was adopted a year later by Jim and … » More …

Summer 2003

A tale of many cities

As a boy Clint Borgen dreamed of having an interesting life, radically different from the humdrum sleepiness of Anacortes, Washington, his commercial-fishing-oriented hometown. He played spy games with a seemingly fearless older brother and best friend. At 20, Borgen became a firefighter. No small wonder that the next year (1999) he hopped a flight to Macedonia for a month of volunteer service, simply because he had watched television images of Albanian refugees and wanted to see the war zone for himself.

Returning safely to another somnolent community, this time Pullman, Borgen (’03 Comm.) published a book late last year about his four-year, 13-country marathon of … » More …

Winter 2001

Arts for all

“WOULDN’T you like to write music for someone famous like NSYNC?” a Clarkston High School student asked Greg Yasinitsky.

Tough crowd.

But Yasinitsky, a Washington State University music professor and jazz studies coordinator and a nationally recognized composer, arranger, and saxophonist, can handle it.

“We’re in the only field where we have to compete with dead people for jobs. In jazz, everyone can buy a John Coltrane CD. Why buy yours?” he says.

Yasinitsky reflected on the first of his three years as composer-in-residence at Clarkston High (CHS), sponsored by the Commission Project of New York. He received the project’s inaugural Washington state residency in … » More …

Winter 2002

A summer job that meant something

An entomology undergrad combats the worm in the apple

When they hatch, they’re so tiny you can barely see them. Then they eat. They bore their way inside an apple and consume it from within. After two weeks, they’re half an inch long, pinkish orange, and engorged, with tiny dark heads. They’re also translucent, so if you look closely, you can see their food moving along their digestive tracts.

They’re codling moth larvae, the number one adversary of Washington apple orchard growers and the subject of her fascinating summer of research at the Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Food and Environmental Quality Lab. With faculty members … » More …

Summer 2004

Wave of the Future

Hands-on training doesn’t get better than this. After six months of construction, Washington State University assistant professor of architecture Robert Barnstone and 10 architectural design students recently completed what is essentially the world’s first wood-plastic building.

The project is a demonstration for the U.S Navy to show that wood-plastic products can be used wherever wood comes into contact with the ground, Barnstone says. The result is a structure at WSU’s Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory (WMEL) that represents the ultimate in “reuse and recycle,” built entirely by undergraduate students from the architecture and engineering programs. The overall project engaged students, professionals, and professors, who guided … » More …

Spring 2004

Regents Scholars Reception: Young Scholars, Good Cheer

Seth Lake of Olympia mimicked the fetal position he reverted to the day his roommate’s family met him for the first time, shivering under a hat, coat, and blanket on the couch, sicker than a dog.

A hungry John Leraas, also of Olympia, overspent his dining plan the first half of the semester. Limited to eating on $6 a day, he bought a rice cooker and skillet to supplement his meals. Mariah Maki of Washington State University Admissions, seated next to Leraas, passed him her plate of hors d’oeuvres.

Amy Gordon of tiny Lacrosse radiated the bigheartedness and positive spirits of someone raised in a … » More …

Winter 2003

I Only Smoke on Thursdays

What would Audrey Hepburn do? Look no further than the timeless class, spirit, and wit of the late actress for tips on dating and living as a modern woman. That’s part of the advice of Seattle author Georgie Nickell (’94 Comm.) in her debut novel, I Only Smoke on Thursdays.

Nickell chronicles the Valentine’s Day dumping of her heroine by The One—she annoyingly capitalizes His every reference—and the three years that follow of dating, smoking, going to bars with names like the “Fruit Fly” and “Cha-Cha Hut,” and drinking vodka tonics with extra lime. Smoke on Thursdays is the how-to manual of a single Seattle … » More …

Fall 2002

Whispered prayers

On the floor of Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum, Native American children dressed in full regalia run off steam before the grand dance at the Pah-Loots-Pu Powwow this Saturday night in April. One of them is Red Bear McCloud, the 5-year-old son of arena director Russell McCloud, seated at the announcer’s platform in jeans and a crimson wind jacket. Father looks on at son unhurriedly. The grand dance is scheduled for 6 p.m., an hour away, but McCloud knows it will most likely be later. Always factor in Indian time—about half an hour more than what’s advertised.

“I grew up going to powwows,” McCloud says. He … » More …

Summer 2002

An untamed mind

Two minutes into our interview in Thompson Hall, Katherine Grimes—“Katie,” on second reference—must leave. She can’t concentrate, because the murmurs of students passing outside the closed door are amplified to rock-concert cacophony in her ears.

Let’s try another location, I suggest. The Cooper Publications Building is quiet. But as we step through the door, Katie’s first words are, “What’s that smell?” I’ve long since relegated the ever-present odor of printing ink to the background. Katie doesn’t.

As I turn on the lights, Katie immediately closes the door to my office, her defense against more assaults on her senses. She sits in a chair, crosses her … » More …