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Washington State Magazine

Summer 2017

On the surface…

Cancer, that malignant force that maims and kills as it rampages through bodies and lives, may have met its match in the person of James Wells ’79 PhD. Wells speaks quietly but with urgency. You have to lean in to not miss anything.

Wells is explaining that cancer’s derangement of our lives actually begins at the surface of individual cells. The complex chemical ecology of the cell membrane surface deserves its own term of art, so Wells dubs it the “surfaceome.” “The cell membrane is the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth of a cell,” he says.

Cancer cells, in order to avoid detection by the … » More …

Summer 2017

Becky Cain-Kellogg ’91

What do the ABC’s have in common with a treble clef? How about a children’s theater production and creative problem-solving? These questions are not riddles, says Becky Cain-Kellogg ’91, owner of the Puyallup Children’s Theater and Music Academy.

Cain-Kellogg opened the theater in Puyallup seven years ago, although she has taught music and theater for nearly 30 years. During that time, Cain-Kellogg also worked as an arts integration specialist, combining music and the arts with subjects such as math and history in schools.

Research says that children who are involved with music and theater early on gain lifelong skills—in part because there are so … » More …

Stacy Slade ’00 and Tag
Summer 2017

Stacy Slade ’00

It may be dangerous to anthropomorphize, but the pleasure on Tag’s face is pretty hard to miss as he follows his master, Stacy Slade ’00, around the ring at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show. And the glow emanating from Slade is clear, too, as she leads her handsome and graceful Bernese mountain dog to a Best of Breed win in February this year.

“I’ve been showing dogs since I was 10 years old,” Slade says a few days after she and—to use his full name—Villairns Tag You’re It got back from the show in Manhattan. “I was in Snohomish County 4-H. That’s one … » More …

John Yeager
Summer 2017

John Yeager ’06, ’08 MS, ’11 PhD

John Yeager wants to know what happens to materials all the way down to the nanoscale, even when they detonate. His curiosity led to three WSU materials science degrees, and a recent award.

Yeager ’06, ’08 MS, ’11 PhD, now works for the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s High Explosives Science and Technology group in New Mexico. He received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in January.

Established in 1996, the Presidential Early Career Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers. Yeager is among … » More …

Summer 2017

AI

One of the most memorable moments of Matthew Taylor’s life so far would look to most people like just a jumble of numbers, brackets, and punctuation strung together with random words on a computer screen.

IF ((dist(K1,T1)<=4) AND
(Min(dist(K3,T1), dist(K3,T2))>=12.8) AND
(ang(K3,K1,T1)>=36))
THEN Pass to K3

And so on. Line after line of computer code flowing like a digital river of expanding possibilities.

Although sophisticated and wonderfully complex, it wasn’t so much the code itself that made this such a pivotal moment.

It was what came next.

Taylor, a graduate student in Texas at the time, … » More …

Summer 2017

Robert Smawley 1928–2017

Bob Smawley, “Mr. WSU,” embodied what it meant to be a Cougar for generations of Washington State University students, staff, and alumni, through his selfless service to the University, his caring nature, and his deep knowledge of WSU history, all delivered with a dry sense of humor and true compassion.

For over six decades, Smawley worked under six WSU presidents in several departments, volunteered and led in the Alumni Association, taught many the history of WSU through engaging slideshows, and mentored thousands of students.

“He was the heart of WSU,” says Malia Martine Karlinsky ’92. “Bob had a magical way of making you feel … » More …

Fresh peas thumb by Gunenko Oksana
Summer 2017

Fresh Peas

It’s Friday night in the middle of summer, and Darren Wright and Janine Klingele have harvested everything they’ll take to the farmers market early Saturday morning—except peas. These they save for last—but not many peas are actually going to make it to market. The pair of farmers are standing in the light of the full moon eating the irresistible fresh sugar snap peas as fast as they can pick them.

“Peas are best just eating them fresh!” says Klingele. “A quick stir fry is great but they are so sweet fresh.”

Longtime farmer Wright and former Master Gardener Klingele grow about 20 different row … » More …

Robot typing
Summer 2017

Robowriters

Subject. Verb. Object.

These are the basic building blocks of written communication. It’s what you need to make a complete sentence like the one you’re reading now.

Structured. Logical. Direct.

This also is why parts of my chosen career are ripe for takeover by robots.

For millions of Americans, the defining realization of how fast artificial intelligence is evolving came in 2011 when Watson — IBM’s now-celebrated language processing computer — won the popular TV quiz show Jeopardy by beating two of the game’s top champions.

I watched with fascination as well. But, for me, the point was driven home even harder a few years … » More …

grape vine illustration
Summer 2017

Hanging a left at wine

The allure of winemaking has attracted a menagerie of professionals to the business. Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Program has lured aerospace engineers, Army medics, apparel designers, scientists, and many others to the field. Here, we bring you a few of the stories of those who have changed careers by hanging a left at wine.

After years of dissecting rat brains, Berenice Burdet had had enough.

The Argentinian neuroscientist was untangling stress’s web of physiological effects on the hippocampus. The stress we feel in a crammed subway train, Burdet says, affects our behavior by dampening affect. We become depressed, and activity levels decline. … » More …