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Community and Economic Development

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 …

Faster drop for a new crop
Spring 2017

Faster drop for a new crop

Water and time are money if you’re a farmer. Trees are especially slow, and to get a new apple variety growing at a commercial scale can take years. It not only takes a couple of years after planting for fruit production to start, but it’s a long time just getting trees to plant.

The number of trees needed to plant a commercial-scale orchard is daunting. Even a small orchard of 100 acres needs nearly a quarter million trees to get going. And while it might take only a couple years to “raise a few rootstocks, thousands can take many years,” Washington State University apple breeder … » More …

Spring 2017

Waste not

Someone forgot about the fruit salad. When the refrigerator door opens, the sickly sweet aroma delivers a potent reminder. All the rotting apples, pears, and bananas in the bowl will need to be thrown out, and hopefully composted. It may seem insignificant, but that fruit salad represents a piece of the 40 percent of food wasted in the United States, about 20 pounds per person each month.

In recent years, food waste in this country and many other places around the world has grown not only in volume, but also in the collective consciousness. The numbers are staggering. Americans throw away an estimated $165 billion … » More …

Winter 2016

Main Street, USA

Standing on the beach at Smokiam Park, I dip my hand in the lake. The water is soft, slippery, almost squishy feeling. It’s full of sodium carbonate—washing soda. It’s a tiny lake, and on its southern beach is Soap Lake, a town experiencing a little renaissance.

 
Locals credit Washington State University’s Rural Communities Design Initiative for assisting their town of 1,500 in the eastern Washington scablands with improvement efforts. Soap Lake declined from fame and modest prosperity to a near ghost town but has recently rediscovered its pulse.

“Smokiam” is a Tsincayuse word that means “healing waters,” so maybe the sense of … » More …

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).

» More …

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 …