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Community and Economic Development

Winter 2016

Call it the Urban Extension

The massive Oso landslide killed 43 people, caused extensive flooding, and destroyed a key highway north of Everett in 2014, pushing the communities of Arlington and Darrington to their breaking point.

For months, grieving residents and community leaders remained so immersed in the search and recovery demands that nearly everything else had to be put on hold. That’s why, when they were invited to participate in a national competition that could funnel up to $3 million or more toward desperately needed economic revitalization efforts, Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert was practically on the verge of tears, again.

“It was this rare opportunity but we had no … » More …

Fall 2016

Upside down on the mountain

On a sunny Saturday in Leavenworth, Holly Fiske ’06 and Leah Hemberry set out to work on the mountain.

They dig through the back of Fiske’s SUV and pull out a backpack and yoga trapeze from under a paddleboard, snowboard, and other outdoor accessories. They hike up Icicle Ridge trail and, after a few switchbacks, Hemberry spots a picturesque backdrop.

Fiske drops her bag and sticks a handstand into one of the many yoga poses in her repertoire. Hemberry captures the moment with photos that Fiske will share with her more than 100,000 Instagram followers.

When Fiske née Robertson graduated from Washington State University … » More …

Asteroid mine illustration. Courtesy NASA
Summer 2016

The new frontier of asteroid mining

Meteorites can show our relationship with the solar system, but they also provide clues to the composition of asteroids both near and far. Those asteroids could be the next frontier for some space explorers.

Planetary Resources in Redmond is one of the private companies that sees potential in mining near-Earth asteroids for ice and rare metals. They plan to do it using technology we already have, inexpensively and on private rockets. CEO Chris Lewicki compares the hunt for asteroids to the American West.

“It’s like the first steam engines: not much to look at, but they helped us settle the West,” he says.

Using small … » More …

On a mission to cure the disease
Spring 2016

Leen Kawas is on a mission…

…to cure the disease that took her grandmother’s life.

A scientific discovery that could lead to treatments for Alzheimer’s and cancer drives biochemist and executive Leen Kawas. For her, it’s a personal and professional quest to develop that discovery into innovative, affordable drugs for the millions of people facing those diseases—a quest that started at seven years old, when her grandmother got cancer.

At 30, Kawas ’11 PhD is one of the youngest biotech CEOs in Seattle and, as a woman from Jordan, one of the most diverse. In her first year at the helm of M3 Biotechnology, her small but rapidly growing company, … » More …

Mary Jean Craig ’68
Spring 2016

Mary Jean Craig

Mary Jean Craig ’68 couldn’t wait to join 4-H. Her mother and a friend started a pre-4-H club that got her interested, and Craig squeaked into the local fair with a sewing project. After 60 years of involvement in the organization, she knows it was worth it.

Craig, who lives in Moscow, Idaho, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame last October for her lifetime achievements and contributions.

After 11 years in the club, Craig continued as a member of the “Crimson Clovers” collegiate 4-H chapter at WSU and then as a volunteer leader. She became an extension professional in Idaho in 1980, … » More …

915 Labs MATS thumbnail
Spring 2016

Successful startups from WSU

Launching startup companies like M3 is one key way that public research universities contribute to economic development. In addition to introducing a product or service to the market that solves global challenges or meets consumer needs, these companies create new jobs. Graduate students in the lab of entrepreneurial professors are also often heavily involved in startups, giving them business and leadership experience that expands their job opportunities. WSU’s Office of Commercialization works with researchers to navigate through every part of the startup process, from initially disclosing information about the invention, to securing patents, to developing a business plan and finding funding.

A sample … » More …

Bubbling cider
Winter 2015

The drink that built a nation

Bubbling a revolution in Washington State

It’s canning day at Tieton Cider Works in Yakima. Tall, red cans of Rambling Route cider pass through a pasteurizing unit as they come off the conveyor belt of the mobile canning truck. Sold in four packs, the company’s first canned product is intended to reach the masses, perhaps even enticing craft beer drinkers with a moderately-priced, portable cider.

The label on a can of Rambling Route cider describes the journey apples made across the country to Washington: “When it reached the land that would be called Washington, the apple knew.” It knew it had found a home in … » More …

Summer 2014

Machine in the classroom

New tech tools engage young scientists

In a familiar classroom scene, lab partners take turns squinting into a microscope. They spy a wriggling paramecium, if the organism doesn’t swim away from the field of view. These days they also peer into an iPad to watch videos and access digital textbooks. Engineer and entrepreneur Jeff Stewart sees a happy marriage between these old and new technologies in science classrooms.

Stewart and his colleagues at Exo Labs have enhanced that connection with an accessory that connects any microscope to an iPad, where students and teachers can take pictures and videos, measure objects, and quickly share … » More …