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March 2021

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

More vaccines are on the way, the days are getting longer, and we are more than two-thirds of the way through this academic year. Though it’s been a challenging year, the clouds seem to be parting and there are many reasons for us to be cautiously optimistic!

First and foremost, congratulations to Associate Professor Darrell Jackson on receiving the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award. Each year, WSU recognizes an individual who continues the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Darrell has demonstrated altruism and community service, advancement and diversity, and education and inclusion through his work as a teacher and mentor to our students. I know from student feedback that he has been a great advisor to many, and we are delighted to share this news with our community.

Also, in keeping with the good news, congratulations to Associate Professor Kim McKeirnan and Vice Dean Linda Garrelts MacLean who were quoted in the New York Times and CBS News article for their work around pharmacy technician immunization training across the country and beyond. The article and WSU was even noted in this year’s keynote at the AACP interim meeting. What began as a pilot project in 2016, has now flourished into a nationwide race to make pharmacies one of many distribution points for the COVID-19 vaccine. Thanks to our partners at APhA, who have since adopted the training early last year, over 30,000 pharmacy technicians have been trained. Kim and Linda’s work has helped WSU CPPS gain national recognition in how we have pioneered this program, and we could not be prouder. The articles describe an expanding job market for pharmacists with many companies offering signing bonuses. Our college has been no exception to this. In the last few months, we’ve seen signing bonuses and recruiters coming through our jobs board on a daily basis seeking the expertise of our students and alumni.

Our student pharmacists continue to make strides in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Many of our students and alumni have been featured on a weekly basis in the mass vaccination effort taking place across the country. The most recent piece was on Spokane’s local station KREM2 News, where Rochelle Taicz, a second-year student pharmacist, truly embodies the Coug pharmacist spirit: “I really love my patients and it’s great being able to do this and get hands-on experience.” You can visit our website to see regular updates on how our community continues to make a difference on the frontlines of the pandemic.

I am proud that during these dark times, our community of Cougar pharmacists has shone the brightest. I don’t want to minimize the challenges that we have faced as a college this year. Our students have had to juggle jobs, virtual learning, and supporting their families. To help them continue to grow as pharmacists, scientists, and future health care providers, I have created Club 1891 Dean’s Circle to support our students and college during these difficult times. Our student stories on the frontlines are published daily on Instagram and truly what inspires me to ensure they have all the support they need. To learn more about how you can help our students, and build on our college’s legacy, visit our website here.

Thank you all for another great month in the books as we make history together!


Mark Leid, Professor and Dean
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Pharmaceutical Sciences Assistant Professor John Clarke recently received an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for his research into how algal toxins may impact liver disease.
Associate Dean Jennifer Robinson (left) poses with a group of volunteer pharmacy students she precepted during a COVID-19 immunization clinic to vaccinate health care workers.
James Nguyen, first author on the study, is a PhD candidate and WSU Doctor of Pharmacy graduate.

A note from Linda Garrelts MacLean

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Though we are well into the second half of the academic year, the need for student support has never been greater. Many of our students continue to volunteer their time to help with vaccination efforts across the state and country despite having to juggle virtual learning, family responsibilities and more. Working with the National Guard, health care providers, and pharmacies, our students are mobilizing resources and helping to set-up mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

As a show of gratitude for their services and time, please support our students for CougsGive on April 14. This is a one-day fundraising event dedicated to expanding, sharing, and celebrating the impact of donor support at Washington State University. As a donor, you will support our students as they continue to work with our communities where they are visibly making an impact to help put an end to this pandemic. While we are still several weeks away from CougsGive, you can help by signing up to become a Cougar Ambassador and amplifying our call to action via email, social media, or by word of mouth with friends and family.

Thank you to our generous donors who continue to help us attract the best and the brightest. We are willing to work with donors to ensure that your philanthropic vision is met. Thank you again to Dr. John Staniewski, husband of late Stephanie Staniewski, class of 1990, who established a scholarship in her memory with a major gift to the college. In addition, I’d like to share my sincere appreciation to Leon and Merrie Kay Alzola for funding their scholarship endowment. These gifts have gone on to help many students weather these challenging times.

To learn how our students continue to make a difference on the frontlines of this pandemic, please visit our website for regular updates. If you want to support our students, visit our Ways to Give webpage. Thank you Manpreet Chahal for sharing your insights on the importance of giving back. It rings true to the Cougar spirit, which is paying it forward to support the next generation of health care providers and scientists.

With best regards and much respect,

Linda Garrelts MacLean

Linda Garrelts MacLean, Vice Dean of External Relations
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Spotlight on Success

Yakima Highlight

Pharmacy’s Angie Stewart to lead interprofessional coalition in Yakima

College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Dean for the Yakima Extension and Associate Professor of Pharmacotherapy Angie Stewart was selected as incoming executive director for the Yakima Valley Interprofessional Practice and Education Collaborative (YVIPEC). Stewart has been an integral part of the YVIPEC since its inception, serving on various committees and leadership positions.

Provost Featured Faculty

Provost’s Featured Faculty virtual recognition

Yakima Pharmacotherapy Assistant Professor Christina Buchman was selected as one of the 2020-21 Provost Featured Faculty for her outstanding contributions to the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the University as a whole. Honorees embody the tremendous teaching and mentorship that are trademarks of WSU faculty members across the University.  She and other 2020-21 featured faculty were recognized during a virtual event on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.

Watch on YouTube

COVID-19 Response Recruitment

COVID-19 Response Recruitment – Medical Reserve Corps of Eastern Washington

Are you a pharmacist who is retired or has free time to make a real difference in your community? In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest potential challenge that health care faces is low staffing. In the coming months, there may be an increased need for trained, qualified individuals to help with vaccination efforts and provide support in the event of a surge in cases that strains our hospital systems. Sign up to be part of the Medical Reserve Corps of Eastern Washington.

Learn more or apply to volunteer

Philanthropy Focus

Everett Gibbons, class of 1956, and his wife, Dolly, recently reached a major milestone of philanthropy: 50 years of giving to the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences! Everett, who owned Gibbons Pharmacy in Toppenish, is part of what will soon be a three-generation of pharmacy alumni at the college. His son, Greg Gibbons graduated in 1982 and now is the owner of Gibbons Pharmacy as well as three other independent pharmacies in the Yakima, Washington area. Everett’s grandson and Greg’s son, Seth Gibbons, is currently a PY3 at the CPPS. Congratulations to the Gibbons family, and on behalf of the college, please accept our heartfelt gratitude for your generosity.

Alumni Updates

Skye McKennon, class of 2007, returned to Spokane two years ago to be closer to family after faculty positions at the University of Washington and the University of Utah, where she taught pharmacy, medical and physician assistant students. Her practice was in the ambulatory setting for underserved patients with a particular interest in preventive medicine. Dr. McKennon and her husband, who has been practicing as a pulmonary and critical care physician at Sacred Heart, are the proud parents of a lovely daughter, aged three. Currently, Dr. McKennon is teaching part-time at both WSU and UW. At WSU, she teaches in the therapeutics course and also teaches an evidence-based preventive health elective. In addition, Dr. McKennon has been actively writing textbooks and her fifth and sixth textbooks recently went to press. Dr. McKennon also hosts a website that promotes health and disease prevention.

Skye McKennon with her family.

Alice Knotts, class of 2018, has taken the reins as President of the Spokane Pharmacy Association (SPA) and is busy planning the organization’s Centennial Celebration event that will take place this fall. In her career since graduating, Dr. Knotts completed a PGY1 residency program at VA Puget Sound in Seattle, then began working as a clinical staff pharmacist at St Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington. In 2020, an exciting chance to join the pharmacy team at Kootenai Health presented itself, and with encouragement from her employer St Luke’s, she jumped at the opportunity to do so. She is currently working as the Kootenai Care Network pharmacist at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Her role involves MTM, population health, quality metric management, and a whole host of other ambulatory and administrative pharmacy projects. Prior to pharmacy school, Dr. Knotts graduated from George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon with a degree in writing and literature. She then worked as a writer for several years before changing careers to become a real estate agent and investor. In her free time, she still owns and operates a real estate investment company and enjoys a variety of activities, including freelance journalism, creative writing, reading, eating good food, socializing with friends, rock climbing, skiing, and ping pong.

Alice Knotts

Want to be listed in our alumni updates? Send us your career information or let us know what you’ve been up to at!

A Special Note from Felicia E. Gaskins

I want to thank Dean Mark Leid and Kelly Sylvester for giving me the opportunity to write a piece in the college newsletter. I know that the newsletter has a wide circulation and therefore I have an opportunity to communicate with many faculty, staff, classmates, students, and friends of Bill. I want to thank you for your many cards, letters, flowers, donations to the William and Felicia Gaskins scholarship, candy, prayers and well wishes. Thank you to so many who wrote about your personal experience with Bill. My family and I are incredibly grateful to you.

Our family is planning to hold a “celebration of life” for Bill as soon as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and it is safe to travel and gather. We are planning that it will take place in Pullman and we hope that many will be able to join us. Knowing that little is certain right now, we will let you know if our plans change. Above all, we want everyone to be safe and stay healthy. Thank you again from the Gaskins family.

Felicia Gaskins at the 2019 Crimson Gala where Bill was honored with the R. Keith Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award

March 2021 Updates



United States Transuranium and Uranium Registries (USTUR) Postdoctoral Research Associate Martin Šefl, USTUR Assistant Professor Maia Avtandilashvili, USTUR Director and Professor Sergei Tolmachev, ”Inhalation of soluble plutonium: 53-year follow up of Manhattan project worker,” in Health Physics in February 2021.

Pharmacotherapy Assistant Professor Taylor Bertsch, Pharmaceutical Sciences Assistant Professor Travis Denton, Pharmacotherapy Assistant Professor Nicole Perea (Rodin), Pharmaceutical Sciences Assistant Professor Ayesha Ahmed and Pharmacotherapy Associate Professor Kimberly McKeirnan published, “Drug development and the process of transitioning to team-based learning in a qualitative way,” in the peer-reviewed journal Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning in February 2021.

Kimberly McKeirnan and … » More …

Other News

‘It’s an access thing’: Pacific Islanders get COVID-19 shots at community clinic in Spokane
Pharmacy students recently volunteered to help eligible Pacific Islanders living in the Spokane community get their COVID-19 vaccine.
Read more from The Spokesman Review

In touch with safety: Guidelines say gloves aren’t required for COVID-19 vaccinators
To glove or not to glove? According to the CDC and Washington Department of Health, gloves are mostly not necessary to administer COVID-19 vaccines. WSU College of Nursing faculty member Kay Olson recently talked to the Spokesman Review about why WSU Health Sciences students aren’t wearing gloves when giving COVID-19 vaccines.
Read more from The Spokesman-Review

With vaccines in more drugstores, pharmacies go on hiring sprees
As COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue to gain speed around the country, pharmacies are hiring thousands of pharmacists and technicians to vaccinate customers. The New York Times talked to WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty members Linda Garrelts MacLean and Kim McKeirnan about the growing demand for pharmacists and technicians, along with the immunization training offered through a collaboration between the American Pharmacists Association and the college.
Read more from the New York Times

WSU students volunteer giving COVID-19 vaccines at Spokane clinics
KREM2 News recently stopped by Summit Cancer Care Center where they talked to second-year pharmacy student Rochelle Taicz about her experience vaccinating in the Spokane community.
Read more from KREM2 News

Pharmacy student administers COVID vaccines
During her first volunteer shift third-year pharmacy student Crystal Lewis helped vaccinate about 200 people at the Summit Cancer Care Center. She is one of many pharmacy students assisting in volunteer vaccination efforts across the state.
Read more from the Daily Evergreen

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine
Pharmacotherapy Chair John White addresses the question: I may have the opportunity to receive a COVID vaccine in a couple of weeks. Should I take it now or wait and see what happens?
Read more from Health & Home Magazine

Pharmacists are hot commodity as U.S. ramps up COVID-19 vaccine rollout
As pharmacists become a hot commodity in the US, pharmacy students across the country are finding themselves in high demand.
Read more from CBS Money Watch

Wake up with Research: COVID-19 and Vulnerable Populations 
Researchers from the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Nursing, and Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine talked about COVID-19 and its impact on vulnerable populations.
Watch the video