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WSU Start-Up featured in University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase in DC.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Universities co-organized an annual University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Showcase to highlight the role of federally-funded university research in fueling entrepreneurship, innovation and economic opportunity nationwide. Washington State University students were featured in this showcase through their work forming Eco Carbon Technology (ECT) Inc startup. Through the Showcase, the ECT team and WSU were recognized nationally for their exemplary work at the intersection of science, technology, and business.

The ECT startup is a unique, multidisciplinary team of students working together to solve the problem of bee death and colony collapse. This startup was created after the development of the Beetoxx technology in 2017. The invention team for Beetoxx consists of two Washington State University researchers, Brandon Hopkins, Entomology Professor and Waled Suliman, Postdoctoral Research Associate for Biological Systems Engineering. They developed a food supplement that helps bee colonies survive the toxic effects of pesticides by using a carbon micro-particle beekeepers can add to meals that removes pesticide residue from the bees’ digestive system. The entire ECT effort is comprised of two teams working in parallel. The research team worked on generating more data about the effectiveness of the Beetoxx technology under different conditions. Within the research team, they have one graduate student who works closely with the inventors; his name is Saffet Sansar, Master of Science Student at Entomology department. The Commercialization team worked on planning and strategizing towards marketing the technology and now consists of Rachelle Muzones (2018 Bioengineering Graduate), Jason Williams (Entrepreneurship, Business Management expected graduation 2019), and Tru Petrilli (2018 Entrepreneurship Graduate); all of whom had a background in business and entrepreneurship enabling both the research and commercialization team to co-found their startup; Eco Carbon Technology Inc.

Jason Williams (right) and Tru Petrilli (left) represented ECT and WSU at the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase on April 9th, 2019.

2019 Future Leaders in Science Recipients

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) selected the 2019 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Future Leaders in Science Award. Halle Choi with the Sustainable Seed Systems Lab of Washington State University was one of 18 graduate students members who received the award in recognition of her interest and engagement in science advocacy. Award winners received a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Congressional Visits Day on March 5, where they met with their members of Congress to advocate for food, agriculture and natural resources research.

Congrats to Halle Choi and Go Cougs!

Higher Education Act Reauthorization; Senator Murray’s speech

Senator Murray participated in a Center for American Progress event in DC on February 28th 2019; she was the keynote speaker and outlined her Higher Education goals.

As per a Politico Pro article “Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, on Thursday outlined her priorities for overhauling federal higher education policy this year as she begins “good-faith negotiations” with Republicans over a bill.

But she also suggested she’d be open to reaching a deal that doesn’t include any of the various free college proposals championed by many of the Democrats running for president in 2020. Such proposals are a non-starter with most congressional Republicans.

Murray (D-Wash.) said she wants to reach a deal with Sen. Lamar Alexander, (R-Tenn.) the committee’s chairman, on a comprehensive overhaul of the Higher Education Act rather than a more modest compromise.”

In her speech, she made specific remarks of note for the following areas:

In regards to Higher Education affordability;

“…our HEA reauthorization must include a state-federal partnership to promote new investments in our students and families and to pave affordable pathways to higher education.  And we should increase investments in need-based aid like Pell Grants, The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant—or the SEOG, and Work Study. We also need to address the total costs of college, not just tuition—but food, text books, housing, transportation, child care and more.”

“We need to fix the path to loan forgiveness already laid out in federal law, for students who have been cheated by their schools, for our public servants, and for those who can no longer work because of a disability.  And our system of federal student loan servicing has to work for borrowers not against them—which we know is far from the case today.”

In regards to Higher Education access;

“…we need to expand access to students who have been traditionally left out of higher education by enhancing federal investments and support systems that help those historically underrepresented students, including: students of color, first-generation college students, student parents, homeless and foster youth, women, students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, working students, veterans, service members and their families.

And it’s not just about expanding admissions—colleges need to do more to support students while they are in school with: access to peer mentoring, providing counseling to help them navigate financial aid, get academic support, and career counseling, connecting students with food and housing benefits, ensuring they have a safe place to sleep, and reducing the cost of textbooks and supplies.”

In regards to Higher Education Campus Safety & Civil Rights:

“One of my top priorities in this HEA reauthorization is to address the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses across the country…we must also address discrimination on campuses.”


Her speech can be viewed here

If you would like to read further information on her speech or read the full speech, you can view that here

Federal policies impacting fundamental scientific research update

The Science Coalition Round up for February 5th 2019 provided useful information which may be of interest:

Following the agreement to reopen the federal government through February 15, recent news coverage focused on the residual impacts the partial government shutdown will have on science. News outlets have largely examined the impacts to federal science agencies and the fundamental research they support. Some press have also highlighted the lasting effects on research universities, and the problems created by a lack of access to critical funding and resources over the five-week shutdown. Here is a sampling of top articles from the last few weeks:

Infographic: Science Caught in the Middle of the Shutdown

The federal government shutdown is over, but its affects are still being felt by America’s leading research universities. At least $1.3 billion of fundamental scientific research funding was put on hold at federal agencies such as NSF, USDA, NASA, and others. Even though these agencies are open again, it will take them time to get back up to full speed, halting essential research projects for weeks or even months to come. The below infographic gives a snapshot of how funding instability hurts scientific research and how universities get caught in the middle.

To download the infographic from the TSC please click on: reports and resources page.



USDA ReConnect Program Announced

The ReConnect Program is a new pilot program that offers unique federal financing and funding options in the form of loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband. This pilot program hopes to generate private sector investment to deploy broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed internet e-Connectivity to as many rural premises as possible. With this program, USDA is offering $600 million in loans and grants through a new initiative to help expand access to broadband in underserved rural areas. The program will prioritize projects that seek to deliver higher-speed connections to rural homes, businesses and farms. Projects funded under the ReConnect Program must create access speeds of at least 25 megabits per second upload and 3 mbps download. Projects must also serve populations of fewer than 20,000 people, with grants expected to be awarded to more sparsely populated areas.

USDA Rural Development will host a series of informational webinars and workshops to provide more information on the ReConnect Program.

Please visit USDA Reconnect for up-to-date information on these events.

For further information, please note the following attachments;

USDA ReConnect Webinar Flyer

USDA ReConnect Program Factsheet

ReConnect Program FAQ

2018 Farm Bill Update

Good Afternoon Cougs –

The 2018 Farm Bill has been sent to the President’s desk for signature and we expect him to sign the bill next week. This marks the first time since 1990 that a Farm Bill will be enacted in the same year that it was introduced. The conference report, which reconciles the differences between the House bill and the Senate bill, passed the House by a margin of 369-47 and the Senate by 87-13, indicating overwhelming support for the 2018 Farm Bill.

You will recall that Washington State University is a major recipient of USDA funds. We are pleased to relay that this Farm Bill represents a tremendous success for WSU and for the State of Washington. The majority of our priorities were well taken care of in the compromise bill. Attached is an overview of WSU priorities and the outcome, overview documents from the House Agriculture committee, and information on some programs that will be of interest, including on rural broadband.  These documents provide top level provide top-level analysis – if you have further questions, please reach out directly to Glynda Becker-Fenter, Director of Federal Relations.

WSU’s work on Farm Bill has been an 18-month process done in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Agriculture and with a strong coalition of the agricultural producer, grower, and processor stakeholders in our state. This success is our collective success and a credit to our work together. It also represents strong internal partnership. To that end, Colleen Kerr Vice President of the Office of External Affairs and Government Relations wants to thank CAHNRS Dean Andre Wright, CVM Dean Bryan Slinker, and Vice President for Research Chris Keane for their collaborative partnership and Glynda Becker-Fenter for her leadership on this months long process.

We very much look forward to working with you as USDA implements the Farm Bill.

Happy Holidays and Go Cougs!

Government Relations Team

Farm Bill Summary

Politico.FarmBill analysis