Page 1

2012 -13

Inside the Mind of Today's Soldier »

Pushing for the podium » p 8

slayer of super bugs » p 10

taking the hurt out of work » p 14

Standout research » p 18

p 4

Friends, I am proud to bring you another edition of Eastern Washington University’s DiscoverE Magazine, the publication that highlights some of the meaningful research conducted by our faculty. While EWU strives to provide a first-class education, it is equally important for us to engage in critical research that seeks to answer questions impacting the communities we serve. DiscoverE highlights that part of our mission. All of the stories in these pages showcase EWU faculty undertaking research that directly impacts people’s lives – from the grocery store around the corner to the world stage of the Olympics in London. You will read about a project that helps prevent work-related injuries, the development of a mental fitness test for U.S. soldiers and the amazing work by one professor who has a hand in shaping the performance of our Olympic athletes. Additionally, DiscoverE gives a nod to EWU’s creative minds by taking you inside the annual Student Research & Creative Works Symposium, and by offering a sample of new books published by EWU faculty. Eastern is committed to more than just student preparation – we challenge students and faculty to become involved in research and creative activities that result in new, innovative ideas in their respective fields. That is why Eastern faculty constantly explore, and test, new ideas they can bring to the classroom. This publication exemplifies their efforts. I hope you enjoy learning more about the impact Eastern faculty and students have on the world beyond our classrooms.

Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, President

Contact Us

2012 -13 | Volume 3, No. 1 DiscoverE, the research magazine of Eastern Washington University, is published annually by the office of Graduate Education & Research and EWU Marketing & Communications.

On the Cover: Second Lieutenant Robert D. Clark United States Army

DiscoverE Magazine, Eastern Washington University 300 Showalter Hall, Cheney, WA 99004-2445 Email: Phone: 509.359.6489 Website:

Contents 4


Inside the Mind of Today's Soldier

Slayer of Super Bugs Eastern chemistry professor Travis T. Denton and his students work to discover the next lifesaving antibiotic.

EWU Professor Jon Hammermeister helps the U.S. Army determine ways to make sure soldiers’ minds are as fit as their bodies.


Taking the Hurt out of Work EWU’s Physical Therapy program provides some relief for grocery store workers and helps prevent injuries along the way.



Pushing for the Podium Jeni McNeal doesn’t just teach exercise science at EWU, she puts it into practice helping some of the best athletes in the world reach their Olympic potential.

02 17 18 20 21

Research News of Note Creative Collateral Standout Research Book Shelf Grants By the Numbers

Discover E Magazine Staff Teresa Conway Director of Marketing & Communications Ronald Dalla, PhD Managing Editor

Nick Brown, Sam Buzby Art Direction/Graphic Design

Larry Conboy, John Demke, Eric Galey Photography

Teresa Conway, Brian Lynn, Cheryl-Anne Millsap Contributing Writers

Stephanie Recla Illustration

Kandi Carper, Brian Lynn Copy Editors



research news of note

Eastern Hosts FIRST Robotics Competition As part of its continuing commitment to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, Eastern Washington University hosted one of 55 national FIRST Robotics Competitions (FRC), April 6 – 7, 2012, on the Cheney campus. The university partners with Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) to advocate for STEM awareness, community investment and active participation in STEM initiatives. With the assistance of GSI, nearly 130 volunteers helped run the regional competition at EWU. More than 1,000 students, from 46 high schools, participated in the event. This was the first time Eastern has hosted the competition, often called a varsity sport for the mind. FRC features a real-world challenge to be solved by research, critical thinking, construction, teamwork and imagination. It combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. To support STEM education, and specifically FIRST programs, each year EWU awards 15 academic scholarships of $2,000 to its freshman and sophomore students who have previously participated in FIRST competitions. The university has conducted several annual FIRST LEGO League competitions over the past three years with its focus on fourth through eighth grade participants. The regional robotics event provides a bigger stage, a bigger challenge and focuses on high school team participation. Winning teams from the EWU regional advanced to the FRC Championship in St. Louis, Mo., to compete against teams from the United States and around the world.

Project Provides Relevant Information for Local Decision Makers Eastern Washington University’s Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis launched the Kootenai County Indicators website, ( in April 2012. The website offers a variety of information designed to help create a healthy, vibrant community by making data available in eight key categories for the north Idaho community: people, economic vitality, education, environment, health, public safety and recreation, housing, transportation and tourism. The Institute has co-developed, and currently manages, seven community indicators projects, including the Community Indicators Initiative of Spokane, Walla Walla Trends, Chelan Douglas Trends, Northeast Washington Trends and Grant County Trends. Patrick Jones, the director of the institute, explains that by providing relevant data in an easy-to-navigate website, the project helps private and public decision making and policy on the local level. “This website will give communities in Kootenai County a way to assess how they are doing in key quality-of-life areas,” said Jones, who worked with community leaders from around Kootenai County to determine what data should be published. The website was developed in collaboration with the EWU’s Center for Digital Media and Design, utilizing the fourth generation of student teams and graphic designers. This project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration and by the Inland Northwest Community Foundation. For more information about the project, contact Patrick Jones at 509.358.2266, or visit


School of Computing and Engineering Sciences Wins “Catalyst Award” Eastern Washington University’s School of Computing and Engineering Sciences (SCES) received the 2011 Catalyst Award for “Organization of the Year.” The Catalyst Awards, presented by Greater Spokane Incorporated, Technet and the Spokane University District, recognize contributions by individuals, organizations and businesses that demonstrate the utilization of technology and innovation to bring economic development to the region. “I’d like to thank the faculty of the School of Computing and Engineering Sciences for the fine job in educating Eastern’s students,” said Judd Case, dean of the College of Science, Health and Engineering Christian Hansen, Judd Case and Steve Simmons after accepting the award. “I’d also like to thank the businesses in Spokane for hiring our students and giving them opportunities to succeed.” Case also thanked EWU’s administration for allowing his college to hire new faculty despite the tough economic times; those instructors continue to invigorate and challenge students. Launched in 2005, and building on three decades of prior activity in computer science and engineering, the SCES is a major pipeline of technology advancement and innovation for the region. EWU and SCES have produced more than 4,000 graduates in computer- and engineering-related areas and helped more than 20 spin-off companies emerge, some now with several hundred employees. Project partners for SCES include Avista, Itron, Triumph, Goodyear, SIRTI, NextIT, Spokane Public Schools, Intrinium, TriGeo and many others.

Students Earn Library Awards Anthony Austin-Walker, a history and humanities major from Issaquah, Wash., and Aaron Stroud, a biology major from Burlington, Wash., were selected as the EWU Library Award winners for 2012. Richard Wilson, dean of Libraries, presented each of them with a check for $250, as well as travel expenses to attend the 2012 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) held March 29-31 in Ogden, Utah. Only EWU students selected to present at the NCUR conference are eligible to apply for the Library Award. At the NCUR conference, Austin-Walker presented his paper “Slave Life Cycles: Comparing Slavery in Ancient Greece and Rome.” His mentor on this project, Georgia Bonny Bazemore, PhD, is an Anthony Austin-Walker and Aaron Stroud associate professor in the Department of History. “I learned from this research project that there are endless amounts of sources existent that address nearly every subject in some manner,” said AustinWalker, a junior who hopes to enter graduate school to pursue a doctorate in ancient Near Eastern studies. Stroud was mentored by EWU biology professor Allan Scholz, PhD, and relied heavily on library resources to research his paper, “The Use of Diagnostic Bones to Identify Bull Trout in Piscivore Stomachs.” He hopes to attend grad school and finish his Master of Science in biology with an emphasis in fisheries management. The awards were made possible by the generous donation of Ray and June Johnson of Seattle. The Johnsons “believe in enabling the dreams and goals of our future leaders.” The library will receive a matching grant from Boeing as part of the Johnsons’ philanthropy.





by Brian Lynn

Olympic athletes and soldiers in the Army share a greater connection than simply representing the United States’ interests abroad. Much greater, it turns out. While both groups don uniforms for the U.S.A. and deploy throughout the world, until recently, only one received preemptive psychological training to offset the mental adversity and fatigue common to engagements with global impacts: Olympic athletes.


Both groups experience stressful situations on an “The Army likes to think of soldiers as ‘tactical athletes,’” unparalleled level: moments in which split-second decisions said Hammermeister. “They’ve spent 200 years telling and actions define years of training and entire careers or, in soldiers to be competent, confident and in control of their the case of soldiers, when lives and even governments hang emotions, but they’ve never really taught them to do that.” in the balance. Physical and mental dexterity becomes taxed To teach soldiers those skills, in fact to determine when athletes and soldiers must shift gears from quietly if the theory was even relevant, Hammermeister and waiting for an anticipated event to begin, dealing with selfresearchers from the Army Center for Enhancement doubt and fears while trying to remain calm and focus on the Performance at West Point conducted a series of studies. impending task, to the adrenaline-fueled physical attainment The first phase was an initial foray into qualifying whether of those personal and professional goals. or not psychological fitness related to better performance When Gen. Peter Schoomaker accepted the position as in the field. The second phase involved the use of true the 35th Chief of Staff of the United States Army in August experimental designs in the attempt to determine if 2003, he became intrigued with the idea of providing mental fitness was a trainable concept among soldiers. soldiers with similar psychological training as Olympians. Schoomaker, the Army’s first SpecialForces trained Chief of Staff, who played football for the University of Wyoming, “The Army likes to think of soldiers as ‘tactical sought to explore the idea of preemptively athletes.’ They’ve spent 200 years telling soldiers to be providing soldiers with the tools to deal with the stress of overseas deployment competent, confident and in control of their emotions, and combat. The hope was that soldiers would perform better, both mentally and but they’ve never really taught them to do that.” physically, and that the training would provide an inoculation against the stress Jon Hammermeister, PhD and anxiety soldiers routinely endure, as EWU Professor, Department of Physical Education, Health and Recreation well as the resulting fallout of emotions after an intense mission or deployment. While an analogous program existed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for the academy’s Phase One: Stryker Brigade Study small number of cadets, Schoomaker was interested in Using a myriad of evaluative surveys, measuring extending the idea to the million-plus members of the general everything from mental skills, self-esteem and loneliness to Army. To incorporate sports psychology into Army training, anger, depression, anxiety and hopelessness, Hammermeister however, research into the idea’s application, process and and his colleagues were able to mathematically discern three effectiveness was needed. Enter Jon Hammermeister, PhD, profiles of varying psychological fitness skills among 427 Eastern Washington University professor since 1999 in the male soldiers from two Army Stryker Battalions based at Department of Physical Education, Health and Recreation. Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington. Hammermeister, who specializes in psychosocial aspects Soldiers displayed differential mental skill profiles: of sport, exercise and health, has been involved with the U.S. “Strong Mental Skills,” “Weak Mental Skills” or those within Olympic Ski Team since 1998; first as a consultant and then a “Fearful/Failure/Focus” group. In addition to being able as staff at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, 2006 Olympics to group soldiers based on their psychological tendencies, in Torino, Italy and 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Hammermeister and his colleagues found that soldiers He has been a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Sport with strong mental fitness skills typically scored higher in Psychology Registry and has been certified as a consultant by physical assessments, such as the Army Physical Fitness Test, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. and tended to be intrinsically motivated – or “driven” by an His background in education, coaching and psychology inner desire to attain their goals. made Hammermeister the ideal candidate to help overlay the “With this study we could only say that thoughts and premise of providing soldiers the mental tools and exercises cognition were associated with better performance outcomes,” so common in sports, and readily acknowledged as beneficial said Hammermeister. “The next step was to conduct a larger, for athletes, yet eschewed in favor of physical performance randomized trial to determine if mental fitness has a cause during basic training in the military. and effect relationship with soldier performance.”



Phase Two: Randomized Basic Combat Training Study With an empirical link between mental fitness skills and physical performance established, the researchers conducted a large-scale, randomized group trial in the spring of 2009 with 2,600 Basic Combat Training (BCT) soldiers from Ft. Jackson in South Carolina. “Whereas the Stryker Brigade soldiers had Army experience and had been deployed, this was the first contact with the Army for the BCT soldiers coming into Ft. Jackson,” said Hammermeister. The recruits were divided into two groups; approximately 1,300 soldiers comprised a treatment group that received mental fitness training, while an equal number of soldiers made

up a control unit that received more conventional training in military history. Both groups received 20-minute lessons from PhD-level trainers three to four times per week for 10 weeks. “There were four things we were hoping would change,” said Hammermeister. “First, we wanted to improve their knowledge and use of mental techniques and tools (goal setting, imagery, self-talk and relaxation). Second, we wanted to see if the use of those mental ‘tools’ resulted in better mental ‘skills’ (were the soldiers more confident, more in control of their emotions and able to concentrate more effectively?). Third, we wanted to assess indicators of their mental health (their anxiety, self-esteem, and resilience). And fourth, were they better soldiers performance-wise (could changes in mental tools, skills and mental health produce changes in physical betterperformance?).”

“We think this type of training will produce a performing and resilient soldier. They should be better equipped to perform in whatever context it is – a marksmanship test, fitness test or, hopefully, in the field.”

The Results

While preliminary, the results suggest a benefit for mentally conscious and prepared soldiers. There was a small but significant positive effect for soldiers across mental tools, mental skills, mentalJon Hammermeister, PhD health indicators and physical performance. EWU Professor, Department of Physical Education, Health and Recreation “We saw effects, relative to soldiers in the control condition, in both physical and psychological dimensions. There were a number of indicators of improved mental health with the intervention group. They were able to relax better on command, had a better ability to control activation – or psyching themselves up – their self-talk improved while negative thinking decreased. They displayed less worry and improved selfconfidence, as well as resilience – the ability to bounce back from adversity,” said Hammermeister. “Additionally, we saw better outcomes on the Army Physical Fitness Test, Basic Rifle Marksmanship and a variety of obstacle course events relative to soldiers in the control group.” Hammermeister also said that with the exception of only a few non-significant variables, the treatment group scored higher in most every facet of the study.

Implementation of PREP

Jon Hammermeister


The results of Hammermeister’s work made such an impact that the Army has bought and implemented the program. Overseen by the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) division, the program, now called Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program (PREP), is available to qualified personnel or upon officer request. “CSF is basically a wellness program on steroids. Army personnel are screened twice a year and depending upon

their score, they receive different training. If they’re at the very low end, they get remedial training; if they’re in the middle they get the standard Army training; and those at the far end of the curve get into the PREP curriculum,” said Hammermeister. “Also, an officer anywhere in the world who wants the training delivered to his unit can request the PREP training and it will be delivered. The program has become so popular the bulk of the mental fitness training is now coming from on-demand requests.” The $20 million cost to administer and deliver the program to soldiers is negligible in the context of the Army’s $700 billion defense budget, but the ramifications to a soldier’s mental health from pre- to postdeployment, as well as secondary costs to society, could be huge. A better-performing soldier, both physically and mentally, stands a greater chance of enduring the stress associated with overseas deployment and combat zones, as well as reintegration into civilian life upon completion of service. “They should be better equipped to perform in whatever context it is – a marksmanship test, fitness test or, hopefully, in the field,” said Hammermeister. “They’re more likely to bounce back if they have those tools in their mental tool box than if they don’t.”

Phase Three: Further Research As successful as the initial study into the mentaltraining impact of soldiers was, further research is needed to fine-tune and measure variables more precisely so as to make PREP more effective across the entire spectrum of Army soldiers. “We found two important moderators that need further exploration: gender and whether or not the soldier had competitive sporting experience,” said Hammermeister. “The intervention was more effective with males, and more effective if they had previous athletic experience – which makes sense given the roots of the program are in the field of sport psychology.” While research continues, the ultimate goal of the project remains consistent: to mentally prepare soldiers for the challenges associated with overseas deployment and reassimilation into society.






by Teresa Conway

Jeni McNeal, PhD, at the 2012 Olympic Diving Trials with Olympian Troy Dumais

When Jeni McNeal, PhD, began her college career, she had every intention of becoming an archeologist, but today, instead of digging up and discovering old bones, she’s doing everything she can to keep the bones of some of the most elite athletes in the world in tip-top shape.


When she’s not teaching exercise and sports science at Eastern Washington University, McNeal is primarily focused on performance analysis and enhancement in elite and talentselected athletes. She currently is the lead strength and conditioning consultant for the U.S.A. Diving National Team, and is the vice chair of research for the U.S. Elite Coaches Association for Women's Gymnastics. That puts McNeal in a unique position to help athletes reach the pinnacle of their respective sports – the Olympic Games. “It’s always rewarding when you can help an athlete continue toward their dream,” said McNeal. “That’s ultimately what brings people to sports science – the desire to help highly motivated people achieve their goals.” One of those people is Olympic diver Troy Dumais. The 35time U.S. national champion in springboard and platform diving recently competed in his fourth Olympic Games in London − a record for American divers. At 32 years of age, Dumais has had to adapt to stay in the game and McNeal has been with him for much of that journey. Since 2002, McNeal has worked with Dumais as his strength and flexibility coach. She’s there to guide him in training so that he can hopefully peak when competition rolls around. To accomplish that, McNeal researches unconventional tools to see how they might help athletes recover from the host of injuries that come with intense training. One such tool that has proven extremely beneficial is what McNeal likes to call the “squeezy pants.” Traditionally used in hospitals to reduce swelling after surgery, the pants provide peristaltic pulse compression, which helps rid the body of excess fluids. McNeal first came into contact with the pants at the Olympic Training Center and started experimenting with them on athletes to see if they could help with recovery during periods of extreme training. “The athletes were doing two-a-day workouts and they felt like they were recovering better than they ever had,” said McNeal. “Athletes would say they would often have their

Peristaltic pulse compression "squeezy" pants

best performance on their second workout of the day, which is often unheard of.” McNeal knew they were working, but why? Her current research aims to answer that question with science. “When athletes work hard and when there is localized damage to the tissue, which happens Thermal-imaging of an athlete's normally with training, back shows potential stress points local inflammation can cause the lymph system to be ineffective in pumping or removing fluid from the area,” said McNeal. “So it’s kind of like it gets stuck. If we can assist in removing the inflammation and cellular debris from an impacted area, it allows them to recover much faster, and compete much better.” That certainly appears to be the case with Dumais, who after 12 years and four attempts finally secured an Olympic medal − the bronze in the synchronized 3-meter springboard. “Squeezy pants not only help me with recovery, but with the inflammation I suffer daily,” said Dumais. “I use them before and after workouts and they keep me relaxed, healthy and rejuvenated. The pants allow me to train as if I were a young adult and give me the motivation to push myself each and every day.” In addition to the squeezy pants, McNeal is also researching the benefits of thermal imaging in detecting injuries before they become too severe. Commonly used in search-and-rescue operations or by engineers to detect cracks in structures, McNeal has used thermal-imaging cameras on U.S. gymnasts, volleyball players and track athletes. The camera shows contrast from white to black. White identifies a hot spot. If that spot elicits pain, it can help pinpoint or better define an injury. “If we can locate and define an injured area that has not been identified by traditional diagnostic methods, that is even more rewarding,” said McNeal. “You’re talking about individuals who are facing the shattering of a dream in some cases because an injury is hampering them or their ability to train. You’re giving them a new tool and a new way of looking at things, and if it helps them, that’s even better.” McNeal says she and her colleagues at the U.S. Olympic Training Center have just scratched the surface of what they can do when it comes to helping athletes recover, and she looks forward to further study – not only for the athletes’ benefit – but for the students she teaches at EWU. Students who will receive firsthand accounts of her cutting-edge research, and maybe a story or two of how Troy Dumais finally reached the medal stand.



Travis T. Denton, PhD:

Slayer of Super Bugs by Brian Lynn

Tucked away on the second floor of the Science Building on Eastern Washington University’s Cheney campus, you can find two narrow rooms where students and their mentor develop and analyze new strains of antibiotics that could one day save countless lives by destroying drug-resistant bacteria – while simultaneously protecting the environment and providing a boon to regional farmers.

A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units (monomers).




Professor Travis T. Denton, PhD, and pre-pharmacy major Ashley Hughes (left) synthesize compounds to be tested as smoking-cessation drugs.

Converted on a shoestring budget, the former storage room and very small classroom have become sterile laboratories that house drug-resistant bacteria, as well as their antimicrobial counterparts – endless combinations of newly synthesized strings of sugar-based polymers, manipulated at the elemental level, to perform specific functions. Under the tutorial eye of Travis T. Denton, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, students combine various organic compounds containing elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen with derivatives of corn sugar in hopes of creating an antibiotic with the capacity to destroy so-called “super bugs,” bacteria that have evolved defenses against penicillin and other treatments, without attacking human cells. “We’ve created antibiotics that can kill anything – super bugs such as MRSA (the antibiotic resistant bacteria that causes staph infections), mold, fungus, anything.

Nothing we’ve put against this stuff has lived,” said Denton. “Theoretically, you could use one of our polymers in something like paint to keep mold from growing in a bathroom, but you couldn’t use it on people.” Those human applications are what keep Denton and his students hunched over microscopes day after day. It’s an endless search for the lottery-winning combination of molecules that will change the rampaging polymers, with the killing discrimination of a nuclear bomb, into one with the selectivity of a special-ops-trained sniper. “Optimizing the polymers so they kill the bacteria, but not skin, blood and other human cells is the biggest hurdle,” said Denton. “Our main goal is addressing those nosocomial – or hospitalacquired – infections.” Indeed, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections, from various microorganisms, including bacteria,


« 11

combine, cause or contribute to nearly 99,000 deaths per year in the United States. It’s estimated that overall direct medical costs to hospitals can be as high as $45 billion annually, and that the benefits of prevention could range from a low of $5.7 billion to a high of $31.5 billion. In hopes of helping staunch the flow of both monetary and life losses, Denton and his team of undergraduate researchers are attempting to create an antibacterial polymer that can be merged with a catheter – either blended into the material so the tube itself acts as a deterrent or perhaps a salve that physically coats the area – so as to stop secondary Travis Denton, PhD: Slayer of Super Bugs infections acquired by patients. “People are prone to get infections where that tube enters the body; it’s an open wound with some tape over it, and when you’re in a hospital, you’re surrounded by sick people,” said Denton. “We’re hoping to design a material that will keep infections from starting at the point where the catheter enters the body; to keep any bacteria from growing at that location.” With so much on the line, it’s an arms race, of sorts, between a horde of big business, entrepreneurs and research institutions – all of which dwarf EWU’s two-room lab – as to who can contribute remedies to the multi-layered problem of hospital-borne infections. “We have a lot of competition because this is a huge problem. But if we could develop something like this, the impact would be enormous,” said Denton. “And why not? It’s all just organic chemistry. We can do that here just as well as someone else at one of the big research schools.” And that’s where the science comes in. Science that is simultaneously a boon to the region, university and, most importantly, students. Never one to let the perceived limitations of a regional university stop him, Denton, as an undergrad, once converted a closet at Central Washington University into a research lab. That passion and ingenuity shines through in his teaching today, making him a favorite of students and the 2012 Alumni Awards Distinguished Faculty Award winner. At the University of Montana, where he did doctoral and post-doc work, Denton studied under professor Don Kiely, who specialized in carbohydrate polymer chemistry. Kiely has since left UM to start a company, Rivertop Renewables, which seeks to create an abundant and economical supply of green chemicals and biodegradable products built from renewable plant sugars (e.g., glucose). He was the one who first infused Denton with the theory of synthesizing glucosebased polymers to create everything from antibiotics and biodegradable diapers to new forms of chemotherapy. “Glucose is the most abundant carbohydrate on the planet  –  the starch and cellulose found in plants are


Biology major Noelan Schafer develops biological assays of ammonium quaternary structures.

polymers of glucose,” said Denton. “That supply is the main reason to start with glucose, but also because it’s a renewable resource that can be grown domestically and it’s completely biodegradable.” The theory is, by using derivatives of plant-based glucose, fused with other organic elements, universal benefits befall the chain of supply. Local farmers win because they can grow the original, base material of the polymers, corn as of now but perhaps wheat in the future, while at the other end of the spectrum, the environment profits from an increase in biodegradable material in landfills, as opposed to petroleumbased products, which don’t decompose as readily. To help understand how the manipulation of monomers to form various polymers creates a biodegradable, yet extremely varied, physical substance – everything from cellular-level chemotherapy to the waterproof shell of a diaper – Denton likens monomers and polymers to a string of different colored pearls. The individual pearls on the string are monomers, or molecular derivatives of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc., and each has their own color. By stringing the pearls in various color, or molecular, combinations, with the glucose-based monomers being a constant, recurring color, Denton, and his team of student chemists, can change the physical properties of the product, a polymer. The small space between each pearl on the string represents the molecular bond between varied monomers, which eventually gives environmental bacteria a weakness to exploit; breaking down the string and reducing the polymer once again to monomers – otherwise known as biodegrading the product. “Being a chemist and teacher, you don’t just mix these ingredients together and see if they react properly, you use

chemical logic to plan it out and predict what the end result will be. If the results aren’t correct, you manipulate the ingredients by mixing more or less of something to change the outcome,” said Denton. Stringing the proper arrangement of pearls together, from an infinite combination of possibilities, to create an antibiotic that kills invasive bacteria without harming human cells is what Denton and his students attempt every day. And while they haven’t unlocked the sweepstakes-winning blend yet, the practical experience pays huge dividends for undergraduate students. “There have been many, many students involved with this since I started the project in 2005,” said Denton. “They do everything: from synthesizing monomers, which takes a lot of organic chemistry knowledge itself, to polymer synthesis. And once they make the monomers and polymers, they’re doing anti-microbial tests with them.” That real-world research makes a huge difference in students’ lives. “We’ve had students go on to be accepted to graduate school, medical school, pharmacy school, as well as be hired at some big, globally-known companies, because of the experiences they’ve gained doing this,” said Denton. While the professor and his students will keep blending monomers into polymers, hoping to create a life-saving antibiotic whose formation is a holistic benefit from creation to disposal, the plentiful setbacks littering laboratory notebooks don’t deter Denton. In fact, they only serve as a biofuel for future success. “Those so-called failures often spawn different ideas for new products,” he said. “Ideas that are knowledge-based and researched, and not just random.”


« 13

Taking the

hurt – out of – work EWU Physical Therapy Program Provides Relief for Grocery Store Workers by Cheryl-Anne Millsap

Caroline Wyatt, vice president of human resources for Yoke's Foods, recalls sitting in an Eastern Washington Center of Occupational Health and Education (COHE) advisory board meeting just over two years ago and the topic of discussion was, as usual, safety and injury-prevention in the workplace. Wyatt spoke up and voiced her frustration.


A research assistant demonstrates how grocery work can involve frequent heavy lifting.

said Anton. “It goes far beyond just teaching people how to lift properly. That’s just a starting point.” Sam Herman was one of the students involved in the VIPER project. “I approached Dr. Anton with a request to become involved as a research assistant,” Herman said. “I was looking for a chance to experience the various aspects of physical therapy and the multiple benefits that go along with student research.” Talking to Anton, Herman quickly realized that as a former grocery store employee, he had a unique perspective to bring to the VIPER study. “We found it would be a great fit, as well as my interest in musculoskeletal injury prevention,” Herman said. The objective of the project was not just to identify possible injury-causing behavior and habits for corporate use. An important function was to teach employees how to self-identify and modify movements and work habits that might “The results of the VIPER project changed the way cause long-term damage or injury. Wyatt we look at a lot of things. And it’s gone beyond points out that one unique characteristic of the grocery store business is that employees Yoke’s. It’s making a difference in the industry.” tend to be at each end of the age scale. Yoke’s Caroline Wyatt 900-plus employees range from teenagers Vice President of Human Resources, Yoke's Foods working their first jobs to senior citizens who are either long-term Yoke’s employees or retirees returning to the workforce. This made it necessary for Wyatt to implement a program that After securing the $188,610 Safety & Health Investment could be applicable to all ages; one that taught good work Projects grant in 2010 with the help of Dr. Dan Hansen, habits to the young and protected older employees from the COHE Project program director, and Dr. Doug Weeks, residual disability. of Inland Northwest Health Services, the Vertically Anton’s team of students followed and videotaped Integrated Participatory Ergonomics Resources (VIPER) employees as they worked, often during the overnightproject for preventing and identifying musculoskeletal restocking shift. The videos of employees grinding meat, disorders (MSDs) in grocery workers and warehouse loading pallets, lifting bags of flour, scanning purchases and employees was underway. even filling jelly doughnuts, helped researchers look for Anton, working with a team of EWU physical therapy identifiable risk factors which could lead to musculoskeletal doctoral students, had identified two important areas of disorders if not addressed and corrected. potential injury and damage: in-store workers and grocery The student-produced videos had an immediate impact. warehouse staff. According to materials cited in the grant “It was very eye-opening,” said Wyatt. “Once employees are application, the grocery industry (at the time) ranked fifth in able to see themselves at work, bending, twisting and lifting, the state of Washington in compensable upper-extremity MSDs they see things they’re not cognizant of when working.” and in the top 25 for work injuries to neck, rotator cuff and wrist For Anton, the result was exactly what the project had tendons, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome and back disorders. been designed to produce. The VIPER project was specifically designed to “We all know what we should do,” said Anton. “But in implement a comprehensive participatory ergonomics the course of a work day, how many of us stop to think and program for grocery store and food distribution warehouse practice what we know?” workers and would include awareness training and postBy using the videos as a teaching tool, educating both training educational outreach and dialogue. employees and management, everyone involved in the “Obviously, the key to preventing these kinds of injuries project was able to see direct implications. and disorders is through proper ergonomic applications,” “I made the comment that it would be nice if we could just sit in a break room and actually talk to our employees about what to look for if they are starting to feel soreness in the wrist or arm or any other kind of injury, and what to do next,” she says. “Then I said, ‘wouldn’t it be nice if a doctor could come to a safety meeting and talk to employees about preventing that kind of injury?’” As luck would have it, Dr. Dan Anton, an associate professor in the Physical Therapy Department at Eastern Washington University, was looking for an available grant, which would fund research into corporate measures that would identify and educate vulnerable employees and introduce worker-safety initiatives. “After outlining the project, our next stop was lining up the grant and a community partner,” said Anton. “Yoke's was very excited and said yes immediately.”


« 15

RELATED STUDIES In addition to field studies on work-related musculoskeletal disorders, Dr. Dan Anton and his graduate research assistants conduct studies on risk factors and ergonomic interventions in the Biomechanics and Ergonomics Laboratory. These pictures show physical therapy doctoral students testing an intervention that may make kneeling safer. TOP: Jonathan Braun positions the intervention on Laura Hall. MIDDLE LEFT: Muscle activity and pressure on the kneecap are measured while kneeling. MIDDLE RIGHT: Julianne Keenan shows Laura Hall the results of the experimental trial. BOTTOM: Dr. Anton discusses research findings with Jonathan Braun.

“It was another example of how small changes can make a big difference in the workplace,” said Anton. “For instance, by bringing in hand scanners, Yoke’s significantly reduced strain on cashiers who’d previously had to lift heavy dog food bags and other bulky purchases.” In another case, meat department employees, after seeing the angle at which their bodies bent and twisted to package meat as it came out of the grinder, were quick to make suggested changes. “Each of our stores is a bit different, depending on the age of the store and the type of equipment in it,” said Wyatt. “We made changes based on the requests of the employees and the physical property.” One store simply moved a stool to make retrieving ground meat more comfortable, while another upgraded to a new grinder. “We simply put the information in front of both the corporate staff and warehouse staff,” said Anton. “That gives everyone the tools to make changes.” For Wyatt, Yoke’s employee-owned status impacts employee willingness to implement changes and to maintain a corporate open-door policy. “Our employees recognize that we all win if people understand that management is open to suggestions and will look at them seriously,” she said. “And, since we’re employee-owned, our employees realize that working safely pays off for everyone.” As a result of the VIPER project, Yoke’s implemented a “Don’t Hurt at Work” campaign and all employees are now required to go through mandatory safety and ergonomic training. “Proper ergonomic training needs to be applicable to real life, to the way people work,” said Anton. “Most of the time the solutions are simple. But the process to find those solutions may not be.” Anton is proud of the work done by EWU students and the significant impact the project has continued to have since its implementation in 2010. “The results of the VIPER project changed the way we look at a lot of things,” Wyatt said. “And it’s gone beyond Yoke’s. It’s making a difference in the industry.”

EWU Physical Therapy Students who contributed to the VIPER Project: Steve Goldrick, DPT, Samantha Modderman, DPT, Christine Olsen, DPT, Blake Novoa, DPT, Sam Herman, SPT, Laura Hall, SPT


Creative Collateral EWU faculty produce original works

In Gregory Spatz’s latest novel, Inukshuk, he tells parallel stories from two different points in time. One, a current story featuring a teenage protagonist and his father, and another based on the historical Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin. Fifteen-year-old Thomas Franklin is convinced that he is a distant relative of Sir John Franklin and desperately tries to recreate the horrific conditions of the miserable failure that was to be Sir John Franklin’s last expedition. A poignant tale of adolescent vulnerability interspersed with powerful scenes of the Franklin crew’s descent into despair, madness and cannibalism on the Arctic tundra, Inukshuk offers readers a modern family drama and a compelling historical adventure. Spatz, an associate professor in EWU’s English Department, is the author of three previous books of fiction and his stories have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker. He is the recipient of a Washington State Book Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Spatz, Gregory. Inukshuk . Bellevue Literary Press, 2012 [Paperback ISBN: 978-1-934137-42-0]

Pencil Sketches, Todd DelGiudice’s debut album, presents an inspired set for his first recording on OA2 Records. With an eclectic mix of nine originals and one thoroughly re-envisioned standard, the album explores DelGiudice’s wide-ranging musical influences. The multiinstrument artist is joined by a veteran Seattle trio, including John Hansen on piano, bassist Jon Hamar and drummer Byron Vannoy. An assistant professor, DelGiudice teaches saxophone and clarinet in Eastern’s Department of Music. Raised in South Florida, he has been an active member of the Miami, New York and Oregon jazz scenes. He plays multiple reed instruments with both classical and jazz organizations, and also composes and arranges music for both genres. Assistant professor of English Rachel Toor is a senior writer/ columnist for Running Times magazine, published by Rodale Inc. The magazine is a go-to source of information and inspiration for serious runners. Her bimonthly column offers tips and advice to help take runners to the next level. Some of her recent columns include “The Clarity of the Track,” May 2012, “Now Playing: Coming to terms with music on the run,” February/March 2012 and “The Gift of Being Coached,” January 2012. Her feature “The Colossal Crack,” was selected for inclusion in The Best American Sports Writing 2011.

Make Peace features the 2010-11 EWU Jazz Ensemble, directed by Rob Tapper, (former) director of Eastern’s Jazz Studies Program. The CD was recorded in the spring of 2011 at the Lakeside School in Seattle and the EWU Music Department Recital Hall. Tracks include standards like Duke Ellington’s Rockin’ in Rhythm, Rogers and Hammerstein’s I Have Dreamed, Rodgers and Hart’s This Can’t Be Love and the Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman. EWU students arranged several of the tracks.


« 17

Standout Research Symposium Provides Research Opportunities for Students Eastern Washington University undergraduate and graduate students showed off their ability to gather information and present it in a cogent, interesting and sometimes amusing manner at the 15th Annual Student Research and Creative Works Symposium, held May 15 – 16, 2012. The symposium is the largest, campuswide academic event at EWU, with 491 student presenters and 128 faculty mentors participating in the event sponsored by STCU. The first day of the symposium highlights creative works, including art, film, music, theatre and creative writing. The following day features presentations and posters from natural and social sciences and humanities. Faculty members from throughout the university’s academic programs judge presentations. The students prepare their research under the mentorship of faculty members and ready written abstracts that highlight their subject and findings. Students are encouraged to participate in the symposium as an integral component of their higher education. The following four projects are a sample of exhibits presented during this year’s symposium. These projects address important health, social and environmental concerns, all relevant to the local and world community.



Student Research and Creative Works Symposium

A selection of outstanding undergraduate research The Failure of Federal Policy on Pacific Northwest Forests: The Plight of the 21st Century Timber Dependent Community Author: Benjamin Braudrick

Faculty mentors: Dick Winchell, Urban and Regional Planning • Fred Hurand, Urban and Regional Planning The culmination of the long history of timber resources in the Pacific Northwest has gone from corporate greed and exploitation spurred by land grabs and land speculation promoted by the government to stimulate settlement, to a highly regulated but efficient restructured forest industry framed around resource constraints. The small settlements that were formed, prospered, and are now in decline, will be shown to be mostly excluded from participation in FEMAT and current timber management plans. This paper offers new steps and alternative actions that can again frame the region’s future with these communities and their long-term prosperity as part of the solution.

EWU Sustainability Project: Collaborative Roots Permaculture Authors: Kelsey Crane, Nathan Calene

Faculty mentors: Laurie Morley, Physical Education, Health and Recreation • Robin O’Quinn, Biology The EWU Sustainability Project is working on transitioning EWU and the community toward a more sustainable culture in both action and theory. EWU representatives of The Real Food Challenge National Initiative are striving to commit our campus to the procurement of 20 percent real food (locally-based, ecologically-sound, humanely-raised, fairly-traded) by the year 2020. Our objectives are to reach out to the community through a variety of service-learning endeavors to introduce permaculturebased campus gardens throughout our region, calling special attention to the urgent issue of food insecurity. Ultimately, we wish to alleviate food deserts and build ecological awareness throughout the world through GIS overlay mapping, earth stewardship and strategic planning. We see the future of communities as well-connected hubs built upon thriving local economies, environmentally conscious and productive citizens with equal access to healthy food and social opportunity.

Arsenic Content of the Latah Formation and Its Effect on Local Groundwater Author: Ian Leavy

Faculty mentor: Carmen Nezat, Geology In eastern Washington, isolated cases of private wells being contaminated with arsenic have been reported over the past several decades, including one well located on the Peone Prairie, near Mead, Wash. These cases all exceed the EPA’s maximum contamination level of 10 parts per billion. High levels of arsenic in drinking water can cause health problems, including bone and tissue cancer, skin disease, night blindness and immune system deficiencies. One possible source of the contamination is the Latah Formation, which are Miocene sedimentary interbeds within the Columbia River Basalt Group. To test this, Latah Formation samples from eight locations in and around the Spokane area, as well as several samples from other geologic units more common to the study area (for comparison), have been analyzed. The samples were sequentially leached in order to extract arsenic pools of different mobilities. This was used to determine the content of arsenic and associated minerals within the Latah Formation, as well as their mobility and distribution throughout northern Spokane County.

Oral Health, Poverty and Learning: Is There a Connection? Author: Judy Valdez

Faculty mentor: Ann O’Kelley Wetmore, Dental Hygiene Cavities are the number one disease of children in the lower U.S. socioeconomic status. Poor oral hygiene and a diet high in sugars are risk factors. Children living below poverty level have a higher risk of untreatable dental decay because of the lack of affordable dental care, health education, fluorides, oral aids and a balanced diet. Additionally, oral disease in children is associated with overall health problems, pain, inability to eat a proper diet, excess use of hospital emergency rooms and absence from school. Approximately 51 million school hours per year are lost due to pain from oral disease. This pain limits learning. A vicious cycle occurs when diet affects oral health, oral health affects general health, oral health affects nutrition, and ultimately nutrition affects overall health and oral health. Recognizing the impact of oral health on the health and well-being of children is the first step to address the most important health need for children. Providing access to oral care for children in poverty is vital to assuring that all children have good oral health.


« 19

Book Shelf

A sampling of recently published books by Eastern Washington University faculty

Ordinary Individuals Who Become Narcotraffickers analyzes and explains the contemporary war on drugs, addressing a bottom-up approach to drug trafficking. This study looks at the image drug traffickers have of U.S. and Mexican law enforcement, as well as the image government officials have of drug traffickers. The author uses theories from international relations, political psychology and criminal justice to help explain the allure of drug trafficking organizations to the seemingly endless supply of new recruits. Martín Meráz García Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2011 [ISBN-13: 9780757597848]

Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Rural Change focuses on farms and farming, the remaking of rural communities and rural spaces, and policy and action in rural development in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. The book emphasizes the dynamics of rural social systems in transition and divergent perspectives of farmers and farming, food production and change. It emphasizes rural action and explores the significance of national policies and local actions to identify and address rural resources and change. Dick G. Winchell, Doug Ramsey, Rhonda Koster and Guy M. Robinson Brandon University (Rural Development Institute), 2010 [ISBN 978-1-895397-81-9]


A Communication Universe: Manifestations of Meaning, Stagings of Significance puts forth a new theoretical understanding of communication as a continuous process of meaningful spatiotemporal transformations. In it, the author, Igor Klyukanov, discusses several perspectives on communication, each of which highlights a stage of communication, and where and when some of its meaningful characteristics are manifest. As a result, communication is presented as a moving, constantly transformative and transformed, experience. Overall, the process of communication is viewed as a universe, meaning “whole,” “entire” and “turned into one.” Igor E. Klyukanov Lexington Books, 2010 [ISBN 0739137239]

Transnational Roots of the Civil Rights Movement answers the question, “How did African Americans gain the ability to apply Gandhian nonviolence during the civil rights movement?” The book highlights the role of collective learning in the Gandhian repertoire’s transnational diffusion and goes beyond existing scholarship by contributing deeper and finer insights on how transnational diffusion between social movements actually works. It highlights the contemporary relevance of Gandhian nonviolence and its successful journey across borders.

Addiction Treatment: A Strengths Perspective covers the biological, psychological and social aspects of alcoholism, eating disorders, compulsive gambling and other addictions. The authors bridge the gap between the 12-step and harmreduction approaches. A number of firstperson narratives about the experience of addiction provide a realism and depth not commonly found in textbooks. The authors include topics such as the case against underagedrinking laws that will draw you into the material and illustrate the importance of reducing harm within the biopsychological framework that ties the text together.

Sean Chabot Lexington Books, 2011

Katherine van Wormer and Diane Rea Davis Brooks Cole, 3rd Edition, 2012

[ISBN-13: 978-0739145777]

[ISBN-13: 978-0840029164]

G r a n t s 2011 by the numbers


Total dollar amount for 2011-2012 funded grants

$9,032,839 Total number of faculty grantees


Highest dollar amount for a single grant


Total number of grants for… Science, Health and Engineering

Arts, Letters and Education


Business and Public Administration

Social & Behavioral Sciences and Social Work

21 6 1 14 57 DISCOVER E

« 21

Discover E Magazine Eastern Washington University 300 Showalter Hall Cheney, WA  99004-2445

Non-Profit Org. U.S. POSTAGE

PAID Eastern Washington University

Robots Invade Hoopfest!

Eastern Washington University sponsored a FIRST Robotics exhibition in late June at Riverfront Park as part of 2012 Spokane Hoopfest. The teams, which came from came from greater Spokane area high schools, built robots that shot basketballs through hoops set at various heights and then maneuvered them onto platforms. Points were awarded for which hoop the ball was shot through and how many robots they could park on the elevated platforms in a head-to-head competition. The robotics court drew attention from the thousands gathered downtown for the largest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament in the world. You can see more robots in action next spring on the Cheney campus. Save the date now for the regional FIRST Robotics Competition, April 3-6, 2013, at EWU’s Reese Court Pavilion.

DiscoverE | 2012-13  

The Research Magazine of Eastern Washington University

DiscoverE | 2012-13  

The Research Magazine of Eastern Washington University