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Our lives are better, thanks to WSU

By Addy Hatch, Senior Marketing Writer, Washington State University

Research at Washington State University affects the very rhythm of our days. 

WSU research and scholarship makes our sleep better, it makes the food we eat healthier, our water cleaner, the wine we drink more delicious. It improves our homes and our health.

WSU has been making lives better for people in Washington and around the world since it was founded in 1890.

“We’re very much oriented toward benefiting the public,” notes Christopher Keane, vice president for research at WSU. But sometimes, “people don’t understand the importance of research to improving their lives.”

We’re very much oriented toward benefiting the public

Christopher Keane

WSU’s work over the years in sustainable building products is visible in many of our homes

For instance, WSU has worked with the state’s farmers and orchardists for generations to develop new crop varieties. Much of that research has supported growers by making crops hardier or more pest-resistant. But WSU scientists are also making crops more nutritious and flavorful, and researching new products to appeal to grocery shoppers. They’re helping small farmers get started and improving access to fresh foods, all with the aim of making healthy food more available and affordable.

Or, take sleep. We all know we need it, and many of us don’t get enough of it. WSU’s Sleep and Performance Research Center is working on the genetic and environmental causes of sleep disturbance. Along with that, however, researchers have identified how sleep patterns affect nurses, law enforcement and military members who routinely work long hours or night shifts. WSU has devised strategies to help them on and off the job, making life safer for the people who keep us safe. 

WSU’s work over the years in sustainable building products is visible in many of our homes. The durable, low-upkeep composite decking that so many people are using now? About 40% of the products on the market came from formulations developed at WSU.

Chancellor Chilton Inauguration on the campus of Washington State University, Wednesday, August 24, 2022.

When it comes to health, think of the pandemic: WSU health sciences faculty and students fanned out across the state to test and vaccinate. But that was just the most recent expression of the university’s longtime focus on improving health care and health equity for rural and underserved populations. The colleges of medicine, nursing and pharmacy all have programs to encourage graduates to practice in small towns that typically struggle to attract healthcare professionals. WSU Health Sciences has deep connections with the state’s indigenous populations.

“All science struggles to communicate its influence,” said Keane, WSU’s vice president of research. “That’s especially hard when a large public university has high-impact research in so many areas,” as WSU does. “But it’s important that people understand the work we do leads to better outcomes across all aspects of their lives.”  

Better health, better sleep, better food – a better life, thanks to WSU.