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2022 Staff and Faculty Awards

Administrative Professional Staff Excellence

Britta Nitcy

Britta Nitcy started in the CAHNRS Alumni & Development Office February 1994. She fell into fundraising administration, taking a position at the WSU Foundation in 1992 as an administrative assistant and then learning about fundraising and back-of-house administration. As the opportunity presented she moved to CAHNRS’s fundraising unit in 1994. She still enjoys helping donors, students, and faculty after all these years. Her current focus is on gift finance, operations, and scholarship management. Past work experiences within the office has been managing stewardship, creating the impact report process, and planning events. Britta grew up in a logging town and enjoyed helping her grandparents with their hobby farm of cattle and growing a large garden.


Administrative Professional Technical Staff Excellence

Albert Tsui


Albert Y. Tsui is the Business Development Specialist for the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. His duties include strategizing how best to transfer technologies developed by CAHNRS faculty, managing intellectual property developed by faculty, and maintaining best practices in protecting WSU generated IP rights. Prior to joining WSU, he was a Patent Adviser for 9 years for USDA-ARS and was based in the NCAUR Lab in Peoria, Illinois, and part of the ARS Technology Transfer Office. Prior to joining the Federal government, Mr. Tsui in private practice at a boutique law firm in Chicago for 6 years where he counseled the Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory on patent matters, and litigated IP matters and obtained multimillion-dollar settlements for small business clients. Mr. Tsui obtained his Juris Doctor from DePaul College of Law and is licensed to practice law in Illinois and a registered Patent Attorney before United States Patent and  Trademark Office. Mr. Tsui is also a USDA Plant Variety Protection Board member.

Classified Clerical Fiscal Staff Excellence

Tracie Collins

Tracie Collins joined CAHNRS in 2019 as an Administrative Assistant III and has been employed at WSU Vancouver since 2013. She has a BA in Marketing from Western Washington University. She has vast experience with the WSU system, policies, and procedures which she draws from to make decisions every day in her position. She has many different roles from fiscal/budgetary responsibilities to HR activities, schedule building, and providing administrative assistance to the director and faculty of her department. She strives to be efficient and maintain a positive attitude. What Tracie likes best about her job is problem-solving and building relationships. When not at work, Tracie enjoys spending time with her family, preferably outdoors.


Classified Technical Staff Excellence

Jill Wetzel

Jill Wetzel began working at the WSU-Puyallup Research and Extension Center (WSU-PREC) in 2013, first as a volunteer, and then as a Scientific Assistant to Dr. Jenifer McIntyre in the Aquatic Toxicology Lab. Jill joined the Aquatic  Toxicology Lab shortly after it was built and was instrumental in the design and construction of many of the lab’s aquatic systems. She serves as the lab’s lead technician, maintaining daily operations. Jill also assists Dr. McIntyre, her graduate students, and WSU-PREC’s partners in research concerning the toxic effects of urban stormwater runoff. One research project in which Jill assisted was recently published in Science after groundbreakingly exposing the toxicity of a tire-derived chemical to salmonids. Jill also serves as the current chair of PREC’s Safety Committee and is a member of the Space Use Committee. In her free time, she rockhounds, volunteers with local salmon programs, hikes up nearby mountains, and kayaks.

Early Career Excellence

Sindhuja Sankaran

Sindhuja Sankaran is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Washington State University. Her research program focus is on sensor technologies for crop phenotyping and supports plant breeding, crop plant research, and precision agriculture applications. She has secured more than $2.3 million ($8.8 million in collaborative research) to support her program, mostly from competitive federal grants. Her research and teaching program supports researchers from other CAHNRS departments and USDA-ARS labs. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles including proceeding papers and book chapters and is a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, the National Association of Plant Breeders, the North American Plant Phenotyping Network, the International Society of Precision Agriculture, the International Society of Horticultural Science, and the American Society of Agronomy.

Excellence in Advising

Joan Wu

Dr. Joan Wu received her BS in Geology and MS in Hydrology from Tongji University, Shanghai, her  MS in Mathematics from WSU, and her PhD in Agricultural Engineering from The Ohio State University. During 1995–1998, Dr. Wu was Assistant Professor in the Department of Soil & Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. Since 1998, Dr. Wu has been Assistant-, Associate-, and Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at WSU. Dr. Wu has collaborated extensively with the US Department of Agriculture and the US Forest Service in developing the WEPP (Watershed Erosion Prediction Project) model, a widely used simulation tool for water erosion in the US and worldwide. Dr. Wu teaches courses in surface- and groundwater Hydrology, and is responsible for a department core course “Research and Teaching Methods”. She is a registered Civil Engineer in Washington State, and served as WSU’s Faculty Legislative Representative during 2014–2018.


Faculty Excellence in Extension

Elizabeth Weybright

Dr. Elizabeth Weybright is Associate Professor in Human Development, Interim Director of  Extension’s Youth and Families Program Unit, and Co-Director of the Center for Rural Opioid Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. Grounded in prevention science and positive youth development, her research focuses on two relates areas. The first is understanding key risk and protective factors associated with adolescent substance use to inform and evaluate prevention efforts and initiatives targeting adolescent health behavior. The second is translation and scaling up of of evidence-based approaches within systems such as Extension. She takes an applied approach, working closely with Extension partners across the state in delivery and evaluation of evidence-based programs and approaches.


Faculty Excellence in Research

Sammy Perone

Dr. Sammy Perone received his B.A. from Purdue University and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota before joining the faculty in the Department of Human Development at Washington State University in 2016. His research focuses on the development of self-regulation, beginning in infancy and through emerging adulthood. He is especially interested in individual differences in self-regulation and their brain basis. Dr. Perone teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to child development, mentors undergraduate and graduate students in research, and has led several projects to engage the community around the science of human development. He enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, and music.

Land Grant Mission Award

Yoshie Sano

Dr. Yoshie Sano graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, with a B.A. in Psychology in 1993; received her M.A. in Psychology from the University of Oregon in 1997; and earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Sciences from Oregon State University in 2005. Currently, Dr. Sano is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and a graduate faculty of the Prevention Science Ph.D. program at Washington State University Vancouver. Her research focuses on well-being of rural, low-income families including family relations, economic well-being, health-related issues, and food insecurity. Her current research projects include a multi-state longitudinal research project, Rural Families Speak about Resilience (RFSR) which examines interactions of individual, family, community, and policy contexts on the family resilience among diverse rural, low-income families; and a multi-disciplinary collaboration which investigates the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on health behaviors on adults in the United States.

R.M. Wade Teaching Excellence

Mary Kay Patton

Mary Kay is dedicated to the project of nurturing the human spirit as an essential dimension of leading a rich, full, meaningful life. In so doing, she supports individuals and teams in taking values-based committed action from a place of presence and mindfulness. She delights in designing and delivering workshops, trainings, and retreats, all intended to shift and deepen one’s relationship with our true nature. Mary Kay is a gifted facilitator, writer and educator. Prior to her work at WSU, she practiced law in both public service and private practice. Fueled by her experience in conflict resolution, social justice, and mediation, Mary Kay now focuses her efforts on personal and organizational transformation. Mary Kay nurtures her own personal development and sense of wonder through yoga, skiing, and hiking. Mary Kay has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington and a J.D. from the University of Idaho.


Team Interdisciplinary Award

Washington Stormwater Center

The Washington Stormwater Center (WSC) was created in 2009 by the Washington State Legislature (RCW 90.48.545)as a partnership among business, government, and academics. WSC was charged to protect Washington’s waters through improvements in stormwater management. The WCS serves as the central resource in Washington for integrated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) education, permit technical assistance, stormwater management, stormwater research, and evaluation of new stormwater technologies. The WSC is a joint center between the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center and the University of Washington, Tacoma, Urban Waters Center. The team members are:

John Stark
Lisa Rozymyn
Jason Berg
Brandon Boyd
Melissa Driessnack
Anand Jayakaran
Laurie Larson-Pugh
Jenifer McIntyre
Carla Milesi
Heidi Siegelbaum
Carly Thomson
Jill Wetzel