SMB People

SMB People

  • A Gift to Last

    Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04

    Katherine Rempe

    Katherine Rempe ('10 Microbiology)
    is currently a Ph.D student in molecular
    genetics and microbiology
    at Duke University

    Every year for 6 years, Pat Youngman ('43 BS in Bacteriology and Public Health) did something that has helped hundreds of WSU students. She provided enough support for the now School of Molecular Biosciences to purchase one Leica microscope each year.

    "The microscopes made all the things we read in text books or hear in lecture become real," said Katherine Rempe ('10 Microbiology), who is currently a Ph.D student in molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University. "We could see how bacteria move and behave differently."

    Originally, Katherine thought she'd pursue a degree in pharmacy, but she fell in love with microbiology.

    Pat Youngman

    Pat Youngman, '43
    BS in Bacteriology & Public Health

    "I enjoy research because of the problem solving involved and the fact that you never do exactly the same thing two days in a row," said Rempe. As a Ph.D. student she studies a bacterium (Haemophilus influenzae) that is a leading cause of ear infections in children.

    "Washington State University provided me many opportunities that have shaped who I am now," said Rempe. "I was able to be involved in research, which opened up a new career for me."

    Pat Youngman's microscopes have made a difference for countless students like Katherine in classes such as Introductory Microbiology, General Microbiology Laboratory, Diagnostic Bacteriology Laboratory, and Combined Immunology and Virology Laboratory. The microscopes are also used for pre-college outreach activities like WSU Cougar Quest.

    Pat Youngman passed away in 2010. Although most students will never realize how much they benefitted from her generosity, her legacy lives on in the lives she has touched.

  • Reaching for the STARS

    by Marcia Hill Gossard '99, '04


    When Travis Kent was still a high school student in Boise, Idaho, Washington State University was one of his top choices. But it was on a visit to the WSU School of Molecular Biosciences when he was told about STARS, a fast-track program where students can begin as undergraduates and earn a doctorate in seven years, when he knew this was the place for him.

    “I was excited about getting into the lab early and that shifted my decision to come to WSU,” said Kent, who in 2016 will earn a doctorate in genetics and cell biology.

    With STARS, or Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies, students can begin their laboratory training their first year. Each semester and over the summer students receive stipends and the funding allows them to spend time doing their own research, rather than working off-campus.

    “Without the STARS program, I wouldn’t have been able to work in a lab over the summer,” said Kent. “I would have been further behind in my research.”

    Because he had done lab rotations as an undergraduate, by the time he entered graduate school he was able to focus more on research and he was ahead of other graduate students entering the program.

    “I’ve been working in the lab for six years,” said Kent. “I feel better prepared for my exams and I was ahead in my coursework as well.”

    Kent’s research is on how abnormal levels of vitamin A, or retinoic acid, can affect fertility in men. A fat soluble vitamin, retinoic acid levels are affected by an individual’s metabolism.

    “Half of all infertility cases are men,” said Kent. “But in about 50% of those cases, they don’t know the cause.” His research could lead to different advice by doctors who may prescribe vitamin A to treat acne if it could cause infertility later on.

    “I’m passionate about reproductive biology,” said Kent.

    When he finishes graduate school at just 24 years old, he will have many options in front of him.

    “Whether I work in academia, government, or for industry, I haven’t decided,” said Kent. He is currently planning to pursue three to five years of postdoctoral training after he earns his doctorate.

    “After that, I am keeping my options open,” said Kent.

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Washington State University