Stories from Washington State Magazine—connecting you to Washington State University, the state, and the world. We'll take you into the lives, research, and experiences of the WSU community, where Cougs from all over talk with us about everything from new ideas and fascinating memories to books and food.


May 30, 2023 22 mins

James Donaldson had a great college and professional basketball career, a physical therapy business, and many aspirations, even in retirement from sports. 

But over the course of several years, illness, bankruptcy, divorce, and circumstances in life sent Donaldson into a dark mental spiral. 

He found his way back, writing a book about his struggles and starting a foundation to help others. 

In this episode, Donaldson talks with magazi...

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Tom Haig loves adventure. From his high-flying diving days of youth to his recovery from a bicycling accident that left him paralyzed, Haig keeps on moving.

He chronicles his life, struggles, and triumphs in a new memoir from WSU Press, Global Nomad: My Travels through Diving, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Haig writes with wit and candor about the ups and downs of adventure, culminating in his new career as a documentary filmmaker.

In this e...

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March 30, 2023 27 mins

ChatGPT, DALL-E, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion—names that most of us hadn’t heard more than a couple of years ago now represent a slew of creative programs powered by artificial intelligence. 

Large language model AI programs can write stories and articles, make illustrations and artwork, and converse with users using prompts. But what does it mean for human artists and writers? Will AI steal jobs and creative works? How should peopl...

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February 20, 2023 41 mins

Helen Mary Szablya and her family fled their home country of Hungary and its Communist regime in a harrowing journey under the cover of night in 1956. 

They traveled to Austria, Canada, and then to Pullman, Washington, where Helen received a degree, her husband John was an engineering professor, and they raised their family.

Helen tells the full story in the second volume of her memoir, From Refugee to Consul. Adriana Janov...

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December 6, 2022 44 mins

The treacherous Arctic is the setting of a harrowing true story of shipwreck, disaster, and survival in the early twentieth century. Acclaimed adventure writer Buddy Levy, also a creative writing and English professor at Washington State University, talks with Washington State Magazine associate editor Adriana Janovich about his latest book, Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk.

The second of three...

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Can experiencing art improve your wellbeing? What better way to answer that question than to visit an art museum at Washington State University.

Ryan Hardesty, executive director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU, takes Washington State Magazine editor Larry Clark on a tour of the museum in WSU Pullman’s Crimson Cube. They have plenty to discuss about how people benefit from seeing, hearing, and experiencing art as they visi...

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November 4, 2022 22 mins

There are a million things to do with fungi, from boats to book covers to medicine for bees. Katy Ayers, a Washington State University student and avowed mycophile has done some pretty amazing things with mushrooms and fungi, including a world record canoe and homes for bees.

In this episode, we talk with the bioengineering and biochemistry major about her many ideas, the fungal revolution, and that famous MyConoe.

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October 19, 2022 12 mins

Larkin Campbell calls himself an unknown actor. Now the Washington State University alum takes us behind the scenes of a life in Hollywood, not as a celebrity but as someone who loves the industry even if only a few recognize him.

In this episode, Larkin talks about his WSU memories, getting into the acting business, and playing Coach Shane in the 125th episode of The Office, as husband of the girlfriend of main character Michael Sc...

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July 11, 2022 17 mins

Actress, model, and author Blanca Blanco grew up around Chelan in north-central Washington state. Her parents from Mexico—her dad was a farmworker and her mom took care of peoples’ kids—had very little money, but Blanco had big dreams for her future.

In her recent memoir, Blanco tells her story of tenacity and determination, how she went from a tough youth to graduating from Washington State University with a psychology degree, and ...

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February 28, 2022 26 mins

Enrique Cerna and Matt Chan, two veterans of television work, had many conversations as people of color in the industry and in the United States. They decided to start a podcast, Chino Y Chicano, to talk about the tough complexities of race, and invite guests to join those discussions.

Cerna, an alum and Regent of Washington State University, discusses the start of the podcast, the guests they’ve talked to and topics they covered, a...

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The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University emphasizes leadership as part of its curriculum for medical doctors. Founding Dean John Tomkowiak talks about why leadership training is so crucial as health care evolves into medical teams. Physicians who are prepared to be leaders could provide better care for people and take a stronger role in their communities.

Also in this episode:  

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September 21, 2021 22 mins

Cosmic Crisp® just might be the perfect apple. 

Crisp, firm, juicy, sweet, slow to brown, and all around pleasing in appearance, it’s good for eating fresh as well as for cooking, in both sweet and savory dishes.

Since its commercial release at the end of 2019, the inherently festive, crimson-colored apple, flecked with tiny golden lenticels and dubbed “The Apple of Big Dreams,” has received positive attention around the world. 

But i...

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July 30, 2021 4 mins

Listen to a review and tracks from YAZZ Band: New Normal, a new jazz album recorded during the pandemic lockdown by Regents Professor of music Greg Yasinitsky at Washington State University. Along with guest musicians, Yasinitsky made the "little big band" sound from tracks recorded all over the world and then produced at the WSU recording studio.

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Hydrogen fuel is emerging as a major part of the future fuel mix. Washington State University mechanical engineer Jacob Leachman has been on leading edge of hydrogen research for over a decade. He talks about hydrogen projects in the Pacific Northwest, reasons why hydrogen is a fuel of choice, and the potential of the fuel. 

Also in this episode:
Seattle DJ Taryn Daly, a self-professed rockaholic and a WSU alumna, has her dream ...

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How do you take innovative research from the university lab to the public? Three Washington State University engineering researchers working on unique hydrogen fuel tanks, fueling stations, and other technology started their own company to move their findings into the commercial world. We spoke with two of the founders about the challenges of launching a business and the potential of green hydrogen fuel.

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January 27, 2021 25 mins

Bats could be a key to help prevent a future pandemic.

Washington State University researchers Stephanie Seifert and Michael Letko explain why the flying mammals are important for improving our understanding of viruses and diseases that spill over from animals to humans, such as Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Seifert and Letko also take on misconceptions about t...

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“There never was such a goose. ... Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration,” wrote Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol. On this episode, Washington State University executive chef Jamie Callison offers ways to roast and serve the classic holiday goose and sides. It’s a dish ready for a comeback.

Also in this episode:

  • WSU Vancouver biologist Stephanie Porter on balancing life as a s...
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We’re all missing the Apple Cup tradition this year, but we can still listen to the Voice of the Cougs.

Glenn Johnson, mayor of Pullman and WSU football and basketball announcer, talked with associate editor Adriana Janovich via Zoom about his 40 plus years as Voice of the Cougars, and the surreal experience of announcing a 2020 football game at Martin Stadium without a crowd of fans.

Read more about Johnson’s career in “The Voice.” ...

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Cougar Crew, a scrappy and resilient group of rowers at Washington State University, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. They had to cancel a banquet and other events due to COVID-19, but former coach Ken Struckmeyer and rower Doug “Doc” Engle reminisce about the team, catching a crab, and rowing on the Snake River near Pullman. 

Also in this episode:

  • Seattle-based artist, composer and inventor Trimpin created Ambiente432, ...
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Erim Gómez lives his childhood dream: catching frogs, toads, and salamanders. The doctoral student in environmental studies hunts for the western toad along the Snake River, as he works to determine the biodiversity of amphibians on the Palouse prairie. 
Also in this episode:

  • Carla Peperzak risked her life and freedom in World War II as a member of the Dutch Resistance. She was only 16 when she secretly saved a number of Jew...
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