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Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane

Past Q&As

Q&A with Fan Zhang

March 2024

Portrait photo of Fan ZhangFan Zhang spent more than a decade exploring different research topics before landing in the lab of WSU professor of pharmaceutical sciences Jiyue Zhu as a postdoctoral research associate. Now a research assistant professor, Zhang studies the molecular mechanisms of cancer and aging, hoping to contribute to scientific advances in those two areas.
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Q&A with Jessica Saniguq Ullrich

January 2024

Portrait photo of Jessica Saniguq UllrichDespite the distance between Spokane and her Tribe of Nome Eskimo Community, Jessica Saniguq Ullrich’s work has brought her closer to her community. Since January 2023, Ullrich has served as a research assistant professor in the WSU Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH), where she is part of a large contingent of Native scholars who are conducting research aimed at reducing health disparities in U.S. Native populations.
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Q&A with Molly Parker

October 2023

Portrait photo of Molly ParkerSince starting her educational and professional journey more than two decades ago, PhD in Nursing student Molly Parker has worked on environmental health and preventative health projects in Central America, provided community health services to California migrant farm worker families, worked with HIV-positive youth at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and served as an operating room nurse at Spokane’s Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Now at WSU, she feels like she has come full circle as she pursues a career in nursing science that incorporates her love of nursing, community health, and environmental health.
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Q&A with Christine Muheim

August 2023

Portrait photo of Christine MuheimFor postdoctoral research associate Christine Muheim, becoming a scientist wasn’t so much a predetermined path as it was an instinctive journey to follow her interests as they developed. This ultimately led her to the lab of WSU neuroscientist and College of Medicine faculty member Marcos Frank, where she has been working on basic science studies on the ties between sleep, learning, and plasticity since 2017.
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Q&A with Anil Singh

May 2023

Portrait photo of Anil SinghA biochemist by training, assistant research professor Anil Singh has conducted inflammation research that spans a variety of diseases, from diabetes to multiple sclerosis and cancer. Since joining the WSU Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences as a research associate back in 2014, he has been mostly focused on studying inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, a potentially debilitating disease affecting the joints.
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Q&A with Solmaz Amiri

March 2023

Portrait photo of Solmaz AmiriIn her 12-plus years spent at WSU Spokane, Solmaz Amiri has conducted research on an unusually wide range of topics—from crime, substance use, and mental health to cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and respiratory diseases. A research assistant professor in the Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH), Amiri is the first to admit that she is not an expert in any of those disciplines. Her area of expertise is in geographic information systems (GIS) and geospatial statistics, which form the foundation for her research.
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Q&A with Luciana Mascarenhas Fonseca

January 2023

Portrait photo of Luciana Mascarenhas FonsecaAn estimated 6.5 million older Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable brain disorder that causes dementia and ultimately robs people of their ability to carry out everyday tasks. When the disease is diagnosed early, medications and cognitive therapies can be used to delay its progression. However, diagnosing Alzheimer’s in its early stages is challenging as reliable biomarkers are not yet widely available. Neuropsychologist Luciana Mascarenhas Fonseca—an associate in research in the College of Medicine’s Department of Community and Behavioral Health—is conducting research that she hopes will help change that.
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Q&A with George Tabatadze

October 2022

Portrait photo of George TabatadzeRadiation is used to produce energy, power spacecraft and satellites, and diagnose and treat disease, among other uses. Exposure to radiation comes with safety risks, which are at the heart of the work done by research assistant professor George Tabatadze and his colleagues at the United States Transuranium and Uranium Registries (USTUR), a Tri-Cities-based research unit housed in the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
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Q&A with Claire Richards

August 2022

Portrait photo of Claire RichardsHow does an ICU nurse with an interest in end-of-life care pivot to a career as a nurse scientist studying power outages, extreme heat, and wildfire smoke? For assistant professor of nursing Claire Richards, it took a passion to better understand the health impacts of climate change, along with plenty of perseverance.
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Q&A with Patrick Solverson

June 2022

Portrait photo of Patrick SolversonIn July 2020—while the nation was still in the throes of COVID restrictions—Patrick Solverson drove across the country from Vermont to start his new position as an assistant professor in the WSU College of Medicine’s Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Stored safely in his back seat was $3,000 worth of pure elderberry juice, an essential component of his research on the potential effects of elderberry juice consumption on obesity and metabolic disease.
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Q&A with Chathuri Kombala

April 2022

Portrait photo of Chathuri KombalaWe’ve all done our share of remote work these past two years due to the pandemic, but for Chathuri Kombala—a postdoctoral research associate in the College of Medicine—it’s an essential part of the job. As the first joint postdoc in a newly established gut microbiome science partnership between WSU and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL), Kombala has been working at PNNL’s main campus in Richland since first joining in August 2020. There, she has access to all the tools and technologies she needs to advance her research into the link between the gut microbiome (i.e., microbes that live in the human gut) and the circadian (or 24-hour) rhythms that help keep the human body on a regular day/night schedule.
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Q&A with Ekaterina Burduli

February 2022

Portrait photo of Eka BurduliThe road to being a scientist isn’t always a straight path. For Eka Burduli, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing who studies the impact of substance use on maternal health outcomes, there were a few twists and turns on her path to academia. It started with a tennis scholarship that brought her to WSU from Israel in 2004. After completing an undergraduate degree in psychology at WSU Pullman and finishing her college tennis career, Burduli spent six years working as an assistant coach for WSU women’s tennis while pursuing a PhD in psychology in her spare time. Her love of academia and interest in research eventually won out, and she quit her coaching job to focus on her PhD before moving to Spokane for a postdoc position.
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Q&A with Chris Szlenk

December 2021

Portrait photo of Chris SzlenkLooking for a change after completing his undergraduate degree in chemistry, Chris Szlenk left his home state of Alabama in 2017 to pursue a PhD at Washington State University’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. A rotation in the lab of assistant professor Senthil Natesan got him interested in the field of computer-aided drug design. Szlenk’s research in that area recently got him honored as a highlighted trainee author in the October 2021 issue of the journal Molecular Pharmacology.
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Q&A with Oladunni Oluwoye

October 2021

Earlier this year, Oladunni Oluwoye was recognized as an NAACP Inland Northwest Black History Month Icon for her research on increasing racial health equity in addiction and mental health treatment. Oluwoye joined WSU in 2016 as a postdoctoral researcher in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and recently got promoted to assistant professor in the college’s newly created Department of Community and Behavioral Health. She has a Ph.D. in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati and also completed graduate and undergraduate degrees in psychology at Alabama A&M University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, respectively.
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Q&A with Cassandra Nikolaus

July 2021

Portrait photo of Cassandra NikolausA research assistant professor in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Cassandra Nikolaus conducts research focused on food security within the WSU Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH). Her journey into academia took her from her local community college in Everett, Washington, to Central Washington University, where she studied nutrition and dietetics and became the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. She then completed her graduate studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before accepting a position as a postdoctoral research associate at WSU in 2019.
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