REACH - Seattle University's College of Science & Engineering, Winter 2019

Page 1




BUILDING FOR STUDENT SUCCESS Our world needs scientists and engineers who excel in their fields and approach their work with ethics and values. The Jesuits have long been pioneering leaders and scholars in the sciences as astronomers, paleontologists, mathematicians, physicists and inventors, while delivering a values-based education that focuses on the whole person. Now, with the construction of the Center for Science and Innovation (CSI), we are building on this great tradition as we place STEM, alongside the humanities, at the very center of a Seattle University education.

The CSI will benefit our entire campus community. STEM majors and students taking their core biology and chemistry courses in the CSI will explore important topics through the Jesuit tradition of inquiry, debate and dialogue. In the Computer Science Project Center, students will engage with our industry partners and collaborate to solve technical problems. In the CSI’s dynamic maker spaces, students from every discipline will be free to experiment with technology as they bring their creative ideas to life.

At its core, the Center for Science and Innovation is about elevating the student experience. In the new building, our students will examine all subjects with a spirit of curiosity and an ethical lens. Our accomplished faculty and staff will engage with students in active learning and hands-on research. And emerging from this dynamic educational experience will be women and men who lead the way in solving the world’s most intractable problems.

The university’s commitment to our neighborhood and surrounding community will be enhanced through the CSI as well. With the Center for Community Engagement making its new home on the first floor of the CSI, students will have increased opportunities to collaborate with nonprofit partners on community-engaged projects. I want to express my gratitude to the industry leaders and private donors whose generosity and counsel have made the CSI a reality, and to the members of the CSI Task Force for the time, expertise and energy they have dedicated to the success of this project. The CSI initiative is bold! Now I ask you to be bold with us. I invite you to join your fellow alumni and other generous supporters and make a gift to help bring this vital project to completion.

Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J. President


When I interviewed for the dean’s job 12 years ago, Father Steve told me that we were going to build a new STEM building. I don’t think either of us imagined it would take quite this long! But, to be fair, we weren’t envisioning such a massive project either. Back then, who would have thought that the number of STEM majors at Seattle University would increase so rapidly? But we’re well on our way toward doubling total enrollments in our STEM programs! After a decade of work, it was thrilling to break ground on the Center for Science and Innovation in May. This fabulous new facility, at the gateway to our beautiful campus, represents the growing importance of STEM disciplines, both here at Seattle University and in the modern economy. It represents the commitment of Seattle University to support the regional economy and educate even more outstanding STEM students who can make a positive impact at work and in the community. We are grateful to the individuals and corporations who have generously contributed to this project, turning a dream into reality. The number one value of Seattle University is care: “We put the good of students first.” I am proud to be the dean of a college where the faculty and staff are so committed to the success of each student. And that’s really what the Center for Science and Innovation project is all about: student success. The Center for Science and Innovation will support growth in the majors most in demand by our students. It will also position us for new initiatives and new ways for our graduates to shine. The Center for Science and Innovation will support the expansion of our undergraduate research program and the development of undergraduate and graduate programs in data science, AI and robotics—and that’s just the beginning! It’s important to remember that as the programs in the College of Science and Engineering continue to respond to the times we live in, our fundamental values as a Jesuit institution remain unchanged. We will always put the good of our students first. We will always challenge our students to look at every situation through an ethical lens. We will always encourage our students to become “men and women for others.”

Michael J. Quinn, PhD Dean, College of Science and Engineering


BUILDING FOR DISCOVERY DEVELOPING SCIENTISTS Viruses are the most abundant biological entity on the planet. Although they are most associated with disease, viruses are also important members of environmental communities. For three years, cell and molecular biology major Levi Spears, mentored by Dr. Carolyn Stenbak, has been sequencing viral DNA to learn more about a unique group of viruses known as “giant viruses.” The research is part of a broader collaboration with Seattle U faculty members Dr. Lindsay Whitlow and Dr. Michael Zanis. CAROLYN STENBAK We’re studying giant viruses that infect and kill green algae in freshwater lakes. Green algae can be both beneficial and harmful to an aquatic ecosystem. It is thought that viruses help control algal populations and maintain the health of the lake, but to date they have not been well studied. Our initial work investigating algal virus populations in local lakes has revealed that these virus communities are much more diverse than we had imagined. LEVI SPEARS When I think of the scale of this diversity, it’s helpful to think of flowering plants. There are an estimated 300,000 to 350,000 species in this virus group, roughly the same number of species of flowering plants on Earth. With the advances in DNA sequencing technology over the last decade, we are just now beginning to appreciate how abundant and diverse viruses are, particularly in water. CS We are using two different approaches to study viral diversity. One approach is to sequence a single gene in the virus genome in order to reveal the breadth of diversity within different lake communities. The other approach sequences entire virus genomes from lake water to help us understand the architecture and organization of these giant virus genomes.

LS We are also looking at the differences between viruses in urban lakes and lakes in the North Cascades, and even comparing our sequences to viruses identified around the world. It’s exciting to discover virus sequences that have never been seen before. CS When I was an undergraduate, I had a similar research experience and it transformed my view of what I wanted to do and what was possible. The opportunity to provide these experiences to students, to collaborate one-on-one with them, is one of the main reasons I wanted to work at Seattle U. LS It has been wonderful to work with these extraordinary professionals who are passionate about what they do. Three years ago, the more senior students in the lab took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. Now I try to pay it forward and mentor the less experienced students who are just beginning. CS Many students have a preconceived notion that their professors have all the answers, but we don’t. What we do have is more experience exploring interesting questions. LS Research is a lot of troubleshooting and a lot of wondering. You learn that you can rely on the professor’s background and experience—and you can draw on your own experience, too. That has made the difference for me, knowing that I can make discoveries just like they did. CS Science is collaborative and interactive. Undergraduate students at SU are gaining experience and knowledge through research projects like ours, and along the way they are transforming from students into colleagues.


OUT OF THE BOX Three years. Three hundred parts per day. Over 35,000 parts—and counting! That’s the difference a machine designed and built by four Seattle U mechanical engineering majors made for The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. The biggest difference? New opportunities for blind employees at The Lighthouse in Spokane, who can perform a job unassisted thanks to our students. The Lighthouse employs 490 people—265 of whom are blind or DeafBlind—in a range of industries from accounting and production support to manufacturing for aerospace and defense. “Part of my job is designing workstations that allow our employees to do their jobs with minimal motion and a minimal amount of distraction,” says Brent Weichers, Director of Continuous Improvement for The Lighthouse. Brent is an enthusiastic supporter of Seattle University’s Project Center and the student design teams who, for several years, have designed innovative devices to help blind employees do their jobs safely and independently. “The best thing that we get from the student projects is out-of-the-box thinking,” he says. “The students are literally outside the box. We bring them in and describe the issue and what the machine needs to do, but we don’t show them what we’re currently doing.” In 2016, Brent and his colleagues challenged a four-person student team to improve the manufacturing process for part of a military entrenchment tool. At the time, only a sighted employee could perform the task. “The students took an old drill press and built all this automation around it,” says Brent. “The timing of all the steps and the sensors is just right.” The machine was shipped to Spokane immediately following Projects Day 2016 and, with minor modifications by The Lighthouse, has been in service ever since. Last year’s student team designed and built a device that inspects the weld on a specialized drinking bladder used by the military. The students created a machine that detects flaws as small as a human hair and can be operated by a blind employee. “What the student-designed device does would have taken two sighted employees all day,” says Brent. “The students surprise us every single time,” he says. “Their brains aren’t stuck thinking This is the way we’ve always done it. We look at each other and say, ‘Our brains would never have allowed us to go there.’”


“A STEM education coupled with a liberal arts background will be a powerful combination in the future. Microsoft is a longtime supporter of Seattle University and its approach to educating the heart and mind.” Brad Smith PRESIDENT, MICROSOFT

“Research is the centerpiece of our curriculum, and our faculty members view the mentorship of undergraduates as their most important and fulfilling work.” Joseph Langenhan, PhD PROFESSOR & CHAIR, CHEMISTRY

“The realization very early on that you can use what you are learning to strengthen your community is a powerful thing.” Jesse Goncalves, ’19


THE NEW HEART OF SEATTLE U The Center for Science and Innovation is more than stone, steel and glass. It is a place to shape Seattle’s next generation of leaders. Here, our students will gain the skills, knowledge and insight they need to solve the world’s most challenging problems. OPENING 2021

“We are thrilled that a high-quality institution like Seattle University, with a long tradition of educating women and underrepresented minorities, is doubling down on science and engineering education.” Andy Jassy CEO, AMAZON WEB SERVICES


CONTEXT & CONNECTION “A sabbatical is designed to remove a professor’s obligations so they can think beyond their day-to-day academic responsibilities and look farther down the road,” says Roshanak Roshandel, who chairs the Department of Computer Science. In September, she returned from her yearlong sabbatical, which she spent as an Amazon Scholar. The benefits of this experience—both for her own professional growth and for computer science students—are many. “When I teach, I approach the material from the perspective of an expert,” says Dr. Roshandel. “But, as an Amazon Scholar, I was pushed out of my comfort zone by exploring new and emerging areas of research and practice. The experience has been very rewarding.”

This insight will have an immediate effect on her teaching. “When teaching a senior-level elective, I will treat my students differently,” she says. “I have firsthand knowledge of what they’ll need to be successful.”

“A well-planned sabbatical is like getting an upgrade.” ROSHANAK ROSHANDEL, PhD Chair, Computer Science The connections Dr. Roshandel has made during her sabbatical will enhance our students’ educational experience, while strengthening the Amazon-Seattle U relationship. “It’s all about building bridges between the two institutions,” she says. “We need to do the same with other tech companies. As academics, we don’t necessarily know how to present our strengths to the industry in ways that are relevant and useful to them. I now have more confidence in my interactions with tech companies on behalf of the department. I know what they are interested in; I can speak their language.” Dr. Roshandel’s new relationships will benefit the newly launched data science specialization in our MS in Computer Science program. “I have a more concrete understanding of what someone with that expertise does and how we can best prepare our students for those positions,” she says. In addition, she made contacts that will be important for research and future computer science capstone projects.

She has developed a new appreciation for what her students will face as they start their careers in the tech industry. “The culture in our CS department is supportive and collaborative and our students are not competing with each other,” she says. “The tech industry culture is different. They will be expected to show up, learn, collaborate, adapt, contribute and take responsibility in ways that they have not done before.”

2009 98


2010 113

2012 172

2011 129

The Center for Science and Innovation will enable enrollments in computer science and closely related areas to increase by 50% by 2025.

2013 184


“During the past year, I have attended conferences and interacted with people I never would have met in my academic life, from software security experts to highly successful entrepreneurs who focus on building humanity into technology and making the world a better place,” she says. “As Seattle U launches a new initiative in ethics and transformative technologies, I am filled with new learning and ideas that would benefit the university, the industry and, I hope, our society.”

2019 445

2018 394

To sum up, she says, “The Amazon Scholar program has given me the opportunity to be both an academic and an industry professional. This dual perspective is a real privilege.”

2017 352

2016 294

2015 254


2014 219

TOWARD GREATER INCLUSION AND EQUITY In June, Pecha Kucha Seattle and the College of Science and Engineering co-sponsored an event titled, “The 50/50 Gender Equity Challenge—Real World Solutions for Real World Change.” Women leaders from our region, including several from Seattle U, shared the work they are doing to transform industry’s gender imbalance. The event provided much inspiration and food for thought. In terms of the 50/50 gender equity challenge, how does the College of Science and Engineering stack up? We’re proud to share that 42 percent of our full-time faculty and 42 percent of our STEM majors are women or identify as female. Women also make up 54 percent of the college leadership. But a three-year diversity and inclusion study, funded by Boeing and led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Chair Agnieszka Miguel, shows there is room for improvement. “Data from our three engineering departments and computer science show us that, although women in our college graduate at the same rate as their male peers, they experience significant bias and microaggressions related to their identity,” she says. “This is a social justice problem we can solve,” she adds. “Our faculty is taking a data-centered approach to understanding what we need to improve, and we are taking steps to address those issues. The more we raise awareness, the more we can do to change the culture in our college.” The faculty, staff and leaders in our college—women and men—are committed to doing the work necessary to create a truly equitable culture, one that is inclusive of all our students. After all, it is our students who will go into the world and change the system— for everyone.

10 10

BUILDING OUR COLLECTIVE FUTURE “My opportunity to do undergraduate research at Seattle U completely changed the game for me. My scientific curiosity exploded. The hands-on research that I was getting provided relevance to what I was learning in class, and the concepts and techniques didn’t seem so abstract anymore. Seemingly isolated bits of information finally began to click together in my mind. Not only was this opportunity integral to my success as a student, but it has also been integral to my success as a scientist. My undergraduate research experiences with Dr. Zanis, Dr. Kaiser and Dr. Smith— through independent research and research-based classes—provided me with skills that helped me outcompete graduates from other universities. One of my co-workers told me that she had never really spent any time in the lab until she started her PhD program.

The amount of undergraduate research conducted at Seattle U is unique and will only get better when the Center for Science and Innovation opens in a couple of years. Expanded space leads to more opportunities. The bottom line is that this new building will grant students a better education, because of the emphasis on hands-on research that ultimately positions students to outcompete other graduates for jobs, internships and graduate programs. I just wish that I could do research in the new building!” Brittany Takushi, ’18 LAB TECHNICIAN I, VACCINE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES FRED HUTCHINSON CANCER RESEARCH CENTER

CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND INNOVATION TASK FORCE Dean Allen McKinstry CHAIR Ron Armstrong PACCAR Rod Bench Pillar International Ray Conner Boeing Commercial Airplanes John Hamilton, ’97 Boeing Commercial Airplanes Drew Herdener, ’01 Amazon John Hooper, ’81 Magnusson Klemencic Assoc. Craig Kinzer Kinzer Partners Scott Redman Sellen Construction Dave Sabey Sabey Corporation Ana White, ’95 F5 Networks


$100M goal! Feb 2020

ALUMNI GIVING PHASE We’re counting on you to help us hit our goal.

$94.8M raised. Sept 2019 $90M May 2019 Groundbreaking $80M

Feb 2019 Board of Trustees authorizes construction

$70M Dec 2018 Record-breaking year for corporate giving $60M Oct 2018 100% Board of Trustees giving $50M Sept 2017 Skanska selected as general contractor $40M




Jan 2017 EYP/Mithun selected as architect

Feb 2015 CSI Task Force convenes

Dec 2013 Largest single gift in SU history is received

Together, we will transform Seattle University STEM education and open doors for students who will be the leaders of tomorrow. Invest in our collective future and help us complete our vision. Please join alumni, parents, friends and corporate supporters and make your gift today! GIVE Online: Mail: Use the enclosed envelope Call: Michelle Finet 206-296-2846

May 2013 Fundraising begins

Renderings and page 07 architectural plan courtesy of EYP/Mithun.

Non-Profit Org. U.S. POSTAGE PAID Seattle, WA Permit No. 2783

SEATTLE UNIVERSITY 901 12th Ave PO Box 222000 Seattle, WA 98122

“Science is universal. The more science courses I take, the more I realize I want to be the person asking the big questions.” Miranda Wilson, ’18

Michael J. Quinn, PhD Dean, College of Science and Engineering Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper free of chlorine chemistry. Printed with bio-renewable inks.