This is the fourth in a series of articles highlighting new faculty members from each college at Washington State University.

Kait Hirchak’s journey to joining the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine faculty looks like a model for how to build bridges and carry out the University’s land grant mission.

It started with the assistant research professor’s desire to make a positive impact in communities like the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, where Hirchak, a descendant of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, spent summers as a child and where much of her family still lives. She’s dedicated her career to studying and implementing programs to prevent and treat alcohol use disorders.

“My primary passion is culturally re-centering evidence-based treatments,” Hirchak said.

Hirchak is a product of the Research Assistantship for Diverse Scholars (RADS) program through WSU’s Graduate School. She earned her Master’s in Health Policy and Administration and then her Ph.D. in Prevention Science. Hirchak completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of New Mexico’s renowned Center on Alcohol, Substance use and Addictions (CASAA).

Now with WSU’s relatively new Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Hirchak has the opportunity to make a difference in communities across the state.

“A lot of what I’m wanting to focus on now is harnessing technology to better engage young, native adults in treatment and substance-free activities,” Hirchak said.

The collaborative atmosphere and the commitment to underserved populations at WSU prompted Hirchak to jump at the opportunity to join the faculty.

“Washington State University is very proactive in working with tribal communities and there’s a lot of important work being done here,” she said. “WSU is cognizant of tribal sovereignty and really recognizes the land grant meaning and relationships. It’s a very positive thing to be connected with WSU and the College of Medicine.”