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Pioneering anti-cancer chemist to receive highest honor

George R. Pettit
George R. "Bob" Pettit

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

George R. Pettit, an organic chemist who pioneered the search for anti-cancer compounds in marine organisms as well as insects and plants, has been awarded Washington State University’s highest alumni honor, the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The 1952 graduate (B.S., chemistry) will be will be honored at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, in the Compton Union Building (CUB) Auditorium at WSU Pullman, where he will deliver a free, public address, “From the Indian Ocean to Global Clinics: Discovering new paths to improve cancer treatment.”

“Those who know of Bob Pettit consider him a pioneer, innovator, and simply a giant in the field of cancer drug discovery,” says Cliff Berkman, a WSU organic chemist who also works on anti-cancer agents. “More than anyone, Bob successfully translated his early fascination with nature’s creations to a professional career devoted to discovering and developing new drugs to battle nature’s most grievous diseases.”  Continue story →

Online bioethics covers life, death issues

Bill Kabasenche
Bill Kabasenche

By Richard Miller, WSU Global Campus

A lesbian couple wants a baby genetically related to both of them. They’re considering using sperm from one woman’s brother. He just turned 18. Should they ask him?

The situation involved the relative of a Washington State University student. The student asked Bill Kabasenche, WSU assistant professor of philosophy, for advice. He saw a “wild conglomeration” of issues:

  • Is the brother old enough to give informed consent?
  • Is he old enough to become a father?
  • What responsibilities would he have?
  • Why is it important to have genetically related kids?
  • If genetics are that important, then they’d be equally important to the brother, which means he’d have significant responsibilities.
  • Is parenthood fundamentally a relationship of love or of biology?
  • Is the couple using the baby as an instrument to validate the relationship?
  • If people can design their babies, does that replace unconditional love with a sense of comparison shopping?

Kabasenche’s specialty is bioethics. He teaches several courses on the topic and is co-director of the ethics committee at Pullman Regional Hospital. He’s also the force behind WSU’s new online graduate certificate in bioethics. Continue story →

Alum accepts VP position at Langston

Raphael Moffett
Raphael Moffett

Raphael Moffett, the director of campus and community involvement at Trinity University and a Washington State University alumnus, recently accepted a position as the vice president for student affairs at Langston University. He will assume the position Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Moffett, a native of Lacey, graduated from WSU in 2002 with a degree in English education. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in educational leadership from Clark Atlanta University.

Prior to working at Trinity University, Moffett worked in residential life at Clark Atlanta University, as an adviser of African-American Student Affairs at Georgia State University, and as director of student life at Morehouse College.

After working in higher education for more than 10 years, Moffett still looks back on his time at WSU fondly and credits some of his success to the University. He told WSU News in an email, “I grew exponentially as a result of my WSU experience, ultimately learning how to be a responsible individual and productive citizen.”

Read more about Moffett and his new position in NewsOK.

Governor names new WSU student regent

By Darin Watkins, WSU News

Washington State University’s Rafael Pruneda has been appointed as the student member of the WSU Board of Regents for the 2012–2013 academic year. His selection as WSU’s fifteenth student regent was announced this week by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The appointment runs through June 30, 2013.

“I’m extremely proud to have the opportunity to serve the WSU,” Pruneda said of his appointment. “Being involved in student government and various student organizations has given me the knowledge and ability to communicate with my constituents. I look forward to voicing student concerns and ideas to the current board of regents.”

Born and raised in Othello, Wash., Pruneda followed his two sisters to WSU: Iliana in animal science, and Ana Maria in chemical engineering. Awarded a bachelor’s degree in history, Pruneda is working on a second degree in comparative ethnic studies, with minors in English and global studies.  Continue story →

Researcher sees how forests thrive after fires and volcanoes

Mount St. Helens landscape
Mount St. Helens Johnston Ridge, 25 years later - courtesy Wikipedia.

Forests hammered by windstorms, avalanches, and wildfires may appear blighted, but a Washington State University researcher says such disturbances can be key to maximizing an area’s biological diversity.

In fact, says Mark Swanson, land managers can alter their practices to enhance such diversity, creating areas with a wide variety of species, including rare and endangered plants and animals.

“The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, for example, has created very diverse post-eruption conditions, and has some of the highest plant and animal diversity in the western Cascades range,” says Mark Swanson, an assistant professor of landscape ecology and silviculture in Washington State University’s School of the Environment.

Swanson, who has studied disturbed areas on Mount St. Helens and around western North America, presents his findings this week at the national convention of the Ecological Society of America in Portland. » More …