WSU projects funded in fed’s omnibus package

PULLMAN –- WSU programs in agricultural research and the health sciences in Spokane are among those that will benefit from allocations in the new omnibus federal budget, signed into law by President George W. Bush Wednesday.

“This funding will play an important role in promoting education, research and economic development for our state and region,” said President Elson S. Floyd. “We greatly appreciate the leadership role played by Sen. Patty Murray, and support of the state’s congressional delegation in targeting this money to worthwhile programs here in Washington.”

The bill includes $1.9 million toward construction of a new USDA Agricultural Research Service building on the Pullman campus. The planned, four-story, 86,400-square-foot facility will be located next to Hulbert Hall on Wilson Road in Pullman.

Research emphases include land management and water conservation, grain legume genetics physiology, root disease and biological controls as well as wheat genetics quality, physiology and disease.

Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences, praised Murray and Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, for their diligence on the project.

“Sen. Murray and Rep. Dicks have continued to keep this project in front of Congress during difficult budget times, and at the same time, incrementally add funds to the total needed to begin construction,” Bernardo said.

Design of the building is currently underway. The construction date hinges on receiving the remainder of the funding.

The bill includes nearly $8 million for agriculture-related projects in the Pacific Northwest, much of which will fund agricultural research at WSU. Some of the research projects outlined in the appropriation include:

  •  $225,000 for creation of a Washington Clean Plant Network to ensure virus-free woody fruit plant stock for the state and nation;
  • $263,000 to study the characteristics of grasses and poplars for use in producing biofuels and bioproducts;
  •  $239,000 for continuing development of the Washington grape vine foundation block; and
  • $504,000 to increase Washington’s agricultural competitiveness by developing new markets for the state’s agricultural and forestry products.

The Washington State University Intercollegiate College of Nursing will receive $1.28 million, which will be used to equip a clinical simulation suite in the college’s new building currently under construction at WSU Spokane on the Riverpoint Campus. 

“I am so pleased to hear of this investment in nursing and our healthcare workforce,” said Dean Patricia Butterfield.  “Students face extremely complex situations in hospitals and community clinics.  In the past the nursing profession relied primarily on lectures to help students learn.  Now we know that students learn more effectively when they participate in clinical simulation exercises. We like to say that simulation exercises help students to think on their feet, instead of their seat.”

Funds will also be used to support research and technology infrastructure in the new nursing facility.

Also in Spokane, the WSU Research Center for the Study of Methamphetamine will receive $517,000. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Colville, Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Maria Cantwell were primary advocates for this allocation.

John M. Roll, director of the Washington Institute for Mental Illness Research and Training who will also head this center, said, “This money will further the efforts of WSU researchers to bring the power of science to bear on attacking methamphetamine addiction and other types of drug abuse.  The money will be used to support personnel and projects related to preventing drug addiction, treating drug addiction, and understanding how drugs impact those addicted to them, their families, and community. “

WSU’s Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program will receive $341,000 as part of the budget agreement.

“Several recent studies, including the report from the WSU Commission on the Advancement of Women, have highlighted the importance of attracting, retaining and promoting women faculty in science and engineering.  We are most appreciative that Senators Murray and Cantwell support enables WSU to take steps forward on these goals,” said James Petersen, vice provost for research at WSU.

Dicks supported the funding for the WSU Learning Center at the Salishan Housing Project in Tacoma that will receive $243,000 in the budget package.  The learning center will provide educational support and technology to K-12 students to prepare for school and higher education as well as providing training for adults preparing to enter the workforce or college.

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