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Boeing executive and WSU alumna joins the Board of Regents

Jenette Ramos.

Jenette Ramos, a Boeing Co. executive who started out as a summer employee while an undergraduate at Washington State University, is joining the university’s Board of Regents.

“I’ve always had a warm spot in my heart for Washington State University, and as an alumna, I feel it is really important to give back,” Ramos said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to spend time with students during this important time in their careers and to help shape the leaders of the future.”

In her sophomore year studying pre-medical science, Ramos was invited to spend the summer working at Boeing. By the third summer, a job offer prompted her to shift academic tracks. She became one of the company’s first environmental engineers, and credits WSU for the opportunity.

“I remember one of my environmental science professors talking about the unique silt loam of the Palouse, and from then on I worked to leverage my pre-med background into chemistry and then into environmental science,” Ramos said. “That ultimately led me to the open door at the Boeing Company, and to this day I am still very passionate about the environment and sustainable practices.”

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WSU research behind potential game-changing Alzheimer’s drug

Joe Harding.

Medicinal chemist and now-adjunct professor of psychology Joe Harding was in his lab at Washington State University trying to isolate, purify, and clone the protein receptor for the hormone angiotensin II when he noticed something unusual but interesting.

Jay Wright.

It was 1991 and Harding was researching potential new options for relieving high blood pressure, but if the anomalies showing up in his lab tests meant what he thought they might, he and his research partner, fellow WSU scientist and then-professor in the Department of Psychology, Jay Wright, were on the brink of a different breakthrough.

In the years that followed, the WSU scientists discovered that a molecule associated with memory could activate a powerful growth system that can stimulate the production of new nerve cells and enable damaged nerve cells to replace connections lost during the Alzheimer’s disease process. The work coming out of their WSU lab has since shown that activating this system reversed cognitive deficits in multiple models of dementia, and, recently, the research took another major step forward.

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Nuclear Science Center to acquire high‑resolution X‑ray spectrometer

The Nuclear Science Center, in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry and the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, will acquire a new high-resolution X-ray spectrometer to perform both X-ray absorption and emission spectroscopy.

Xiaofeng Guo.

“Nuclear science and technology has been a flagship program at WSU for decades. Having the advanced lab-based spectrometer focusing on actinides and other nuclear material investigations will greatly expand research and development opportunities while also bringing together researchers from multiple disciplines,” said Xiaofeng Guo, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and lead principal investigator on the instrumentation grant.

The X-ray spectrometer will improve the infrastructure for both research and development and teaching in the WSU nuclear science program. The spectrometer will also accelerate the education and training of the next generation of researchers and students by providing state-of-the-art spectroscopic equipment that will help them prepare to utilize synchrotron user facilities and work in Department of Energy national laboratories.

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Four junior CAS faculty among eight awarded WSU seed grants

From the impact of a Universal Basic Income to safer nuclear fuel to muscle genes in trout – this year’s eight New Faculty Seed Grant awards span a wide range of topics and disciplines. The program, which is funded through WSU’s Office of Research and the President and Provost offices, awarded a total of $155,370 this year.

The New Faculty Seed Grant program helps junior faculty build a foundation for their research and creative programs. This kick-start funding also provides a basis for faculty to apply for extramural funding and creates opportunities for professional growth.

The four CAS faculty seed grant awardees are: Mariana Amorim in sociology; Xiaofeng Guo in chemistry; William Hall in mathematics and statistics; and Hallie G. Meredith in fine arts.

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Students to use at-home lab kits for online summer chemistry courses

To allow students to complete hands-on lab requirements while transitioned to remote instruction due to COVID-19, Washington State University’s Department of Chemistry will mail lab kits to students taking undergraduate chemistry courses during the Summer 2020 term.

Greg Crouch.

According to Greg Crouch, a clinical professor in the Department of Chemistry and associate chair for undergraduate studies, this is the first time WSU’s chemistry department has utilized kits to teach laboratory concepts to students at home.

Alongside a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, the courses will use lab simulations and other visualization tools to round out the student experience.

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