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Notable Alumni

Fall 2017

Steve Smart reads from Whispers of the Greybull

Steve Smart ’75 had spent much of the hot summer day making the rounds of the various landscaping and construction projects his company had underway throughout the Inland Northwest.

Back at his office atop a commercial nursery just outside Spokane, he agreed to take a break and read a selection from his first novel, Whispers of the Greybull. He’d have preferred to stay out on the work sites but got cleaned up and took a seat.

The novel, which Smart wrote while recovering from a near-fatal accident, is set in the Depression-era Midwest and was a recipient of a Will Rogers Medallion for inspirational … » More …

Jennifer Eskil
Fall 2017

Jennifer Eskil ’81

After 30 years of shepherding environmental and energy efficiency projects around the Northwest, Jennifer Eskil ’81 retired last spring with accolades.

Her employer, the Bonneville Power Administration, certainly recognized her achievements. BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer presented the Walla Walla resident with the agency’s highest honor, the BPA Meritorious Service Award.

Eskil received the distinction during the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 awards program in March. The award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to BPA’s mission through excellence in their chosen field for 10 years or more. Eskil was the industrial and agriculture sector lead in energy efficiency.

“Eskil is regarded as … » More …

Book - Briefly Noted
Fall 2017

Briefly noted

 

The Positive Leader: Five Leadership Strategies for Attaining Extraordinary Results

Howard Gauthier ’81

Sports Leadership Publishing Company: 2016

Through a series of parables, this book gives leadership strategies designed to build successful teams in the workplace, on the playing field, or in the boardroom. Gauthier is a former college basketball coach and athletic director, and is currently an associate professor of sports science at Idaho State University-Meridian.

 

Midwives and Mothers: Medicalization of Childbirth on a Guatemalan Plantation

Sheila Cosminsky ’64 MA

University of Texas Press: 2016

In this exploration of birth, illness, death, and survival on a Guatemalan sugar and coffee plantation, Cosminsky … » More …

Fall 2017

Exodus: Climate and the movement of the people

Vast swaths of forests in western North America are dead or dying, killed by pine bark beetle. The beetles have been there all along, but prolonged droughts reduced the trees’ ability to defend themselves from the inner bark-munching bugs.

The western slopes of the Sierra Nevada range in California have been especially hard hit by the depredation, just as people who made money in Silicon Valley sought to move their families out of the choked cities and up into the beautiful mountain forests. Now, to mitigate risk of catastrophic fire and the further spread of pests such as bark beetle, landowners must cut down … » More …

Summer 2017

Old remedy

Veterinarians use an old remedy to eliminate the deadliest infectious disease known to humanity. Rabies.

It was the season for guavas. Their sweet musky fragrance drifted through the morning air and into the open window of seven-year-old Sharon Korir, beckoning her outside to play.

The year was 2003, the day after Christmas. As was customary, Sharon had traveled with her parents to their home village in rural Kenya for the holiday. When it came time to return to Nairobi, the doting grandparents asked Sharon to spend an extra day.

The rains had passed and that day arrived with welcome blue skies. Sharon and her friends … » More …

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 …

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

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 …