Meet the Fellows

Winners of Catalyst grants join a community of innovators—Amazon Catalyst Fellows—who share a passion for building solutions to real-world problems. Catalyst Fellows are WSU students, postdocs, faculty, and staff working on a variety of projects, from computer science to global health. Find out more about the Catalyst Fellows and their projects below.

Recycled restaurant cooking oil waste and reclaimed asphalt are combined into a low-cost, recycled road paving material.

Waste cooking oil (WCO), a by-product collected from kitchens in fast-food restaurants, is now adversely causing environmental pollutions due to it being illegally being dumped into landfills and rivers. Researchers from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Composite Materials and Engineering Center at Washington State University have developed a value-added way to turn waste into wealth by recycling WCO as a binder agent in reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) material used to fix bumpy roads. This innovative product is named WCO-RAP. It is estimated that this product, when fully implemented, can help Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) save $68 million annually out of the current $96 million spent on asphalt materials used for bumpy road preservations.

Team Members
  • Kun Zhang, Research Associate
    Civil and Environmental Engineering
Funding Date

June 2018

An accurate, fast, and efficient way to retrieve information and dispatch it effectively in an emergency situation.

Rapid Responder accurately sends the caller's location, altitude, and health data when a 911 call is made. Using gps and barometric sensors from the phone, RR updates the location while also giving an estimate to how high up a person is, making it easier for first responders to find people located in multi-story buildings during emergent situations. According to the FCC, of the 250 million 911 calls made every year, around 63% of the data is misleading or inaccurate, resulting in 10,120 deaths per year. Rapid Response is working to create a solution that provides more accurate information and saves lives.

Team Members
  • Shusanta Bhattarai, Undergraduate Student
    Computer Science
Funding Date

June 2018

A combination of microparticles mixed with bee feed that protects bees from the harmful effects of encountering pesticides during pollination.

In the last decade, beekeepers have lost nearly 3.5 million bee colonies. Researchers at WSU have developed a technology that will remove toxic molecules from bee’s bodies, preventing bee death from exposure to pesticides during pollination. This also will help prevent colony collapse from bee death. BeeToxx is a small food additive that is fed to colonies and carried by bees. They are not systematically absorbed, but rather bind with pesticides and remove them from the bee’s system when exposed preventing the pesticide from harming or killing the bee. This technology is projected to save millions of bees essential to the pollination of critical American agricultural crops.

Team Members
  • Waled Suliman, Postdoctoral Associate
    Biological Systems Engineering
Funding Date

June 2018

An environmentally safer way to protect crop yield and quantity using bio-pesticides to fight underground crop pests.

Plant-parasitic nematodes (microscopic underground round worms) infect and damage crop roots and other underground parts, such as potato tubers, causing a nearly $13 billion annual crop yield loss annually in the US. Current control methods rely heavily on chemical pesticides which are toxic to beneficial soil organisms, farmers, and potentially, to consumers. Many front-line pesticides for controlling nematodes have been banned due to their extreme toxicity, leaving farmers few options for managing plant-parasitic nematodes. Researchers in the Department of Plant Pathology at WSU have developed a new kind of biological-based pesticide (bio-pesticide), called the AgbioEco-Target, to manage plant-parasitic nematodes. AgbioEco-Target acts like a drug delivery agent, interfering with the sensory function of nematodes and their ability to find and infect crop roots saving crop yield and quality for farmers.

Team Members
  • Lei Zhang, Research Associate
    Plant Pathology
Funding Date

June 2018

An electrochemical scaffold wound dressing treats infections and stimulates healing by continuously generating antimicrobial agents in wounds.

Bacterial infection resistance is a growing problem around the world, particularly in chronic wounds. Often when a doctor prescribes an antibiotic for a chronic wound, the medicine only kills a partial population of bacteria, leaving the remaining microorganisims to grow and multiply, with the added complication of being resistant to that medication and treatment. Bioelectrons Inc. has created an advanced treatment bandage that uses a mild electric current to treat infections that are resistant to medications. The bandage has the ability to treat infections, accelerate healing and prevent recurrence of chronic wounds.

Team Members
  • Abdelrhman Mohamed, Graduate Student
    Chemical Engineering
Funding Date

June 2018

An app for Epinepherine users that helps people with severe allergies and reactions to track their Epi-pens, manage their medication supply, and notify caretakers of a reaction emergency.

3 million people nationwide are prescribed Epinephrine auto-injectors every year by their doctors, better known as Epi-pens. These devices are used to immediately despense life-saving epinephrine to individuals suffering from an anaphylactic allergic reaction to food, bee stings or other allergens. If an allergy sufferer does not have their Epi-pen with them in the event of an accidental contact, a potentially lethal reaction could occur if they cannot locate or receive help. The Epi-N app, developed by a team of WSU scholars, forms a network of users and emergency resources to enable individuals without their Epi-pens to alert nearby app users, 911 and emergency contacts that they are having a reaction and need help. The app also allows them to manage their Epi-pen supply.

Team Members
  • David Kurz, Undergraduate Student
    Business
Funding Date

June 2018

Retrofitting of an existing battery electric Zenn car to enable recharging with a modular, on-board, hydrogen fuel-cell system.

Battery electric vehicles are gaining in popularity as alternatives to gasoline vehicles, yet many owners, and potential owners, are finding a barrier in the availability of battery recharging stalls. If users are able to find an open recharging stall, they face long wait times to recharge their battery electric vehicle. The Innovation for Sustainable Energy student club at WSU has modified a battery electric Zenn car to recharge with an on-board hydrogen fuel cell system. This modification has decreased the average recharge time to as little as 3 minutes, nearly 40 times faster than an electric super charger. The modification also allows owners to use traditional battery recharging when time allows or the hydrogen fuel cell recharging method when needed.

Team Members
  • Jacob Leachman, Faculty
    Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Funding Date

June 2018

The Cardiopulmonary Events from Smoke Estimator (CENSE) will evaluate smoke particulate pollution information and convert it into air quality forecasts for medical condition specific warnings and deliver these warning to caregivers and patients in high-risk populations.

Wildfire seasons in the Pacific Northwest have become more severe in recent years with smoke being a potent trigger for asthma and other respiratory and circulatory conditions. The number of people suffering from asthma increased forty percent between 1999 and 2010 according to the Washington State Department of Health. Accurate, convenient, and timely warnings for wildfire smoke events could help people take appropriate self-protective actions. Researchers at WSU have developed the Cardiopulmonary Events from Smoke Estimator (CENSE) app and website which offers patients warnings, delivered by text messages or email, whenever smoke is forecasted to affect the patient's location, posing a threat to their health. The smoke forecast, covering two days, comes from the Air Indicator Report for Public Access and Community Tracking (AIRPACT) system. CENSE will help people get customized warnings specific to their medical conditions and take appropriate actions to protect their health.

Team Members
  • Joseph Vaughn, Faculty
    Civil and Environmental Engineering
Funding Date

June 2018

The Drywall Waste Block converts low-value gypsum wallboard scrap waste into a high-performance building material that is inexpensive to produce, easy to build with and provides energy-efficient and affordable homes for people in need.

Drywall, also known as gypsum board or sheetrock, is a ubiquitous interior wall covering. It is cost-effective but wasteful to install; building one 2,000 square foot home generates more than a ton of low-value scrap, which comprises 12% of all construction waste. Drywall waste has few current uses and almost no value as a commodity. A team of researchers and engineers from WSU have developed a way to turn drywall waste into Drywall Waste Blocks; a low-cost, high-performance building material that creates warm and quiet living environments. Drywall Waste Blocks are made from 100% recycled materials and are designed for manufacture and use by novice builders.

Team Members
  • Taiji Miyasaka, Faculty
    Design and Construction
Funding Date

June 2018

Creating and deploying smart-thermometers among the pastoral Maasai in Tanzania to increase milk pasteurization knowledge and habits through the use of culturally-targeted solution that limits the transmission of antimicrobial resistance among the tribes, making milk safer and people healthier.

By 2050, it is projected that 10 million people will die from antimicrobial-resistant infections each year, resulting in a global production loss of $100 trillion. Efforts to limit the impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) globally require local solutions. Researchers and entrepreneurs at WSU have created a smart thermometer, designed to help livestock-dependent pastoralist communities pasteurize their milk, and in doing so, limit the contribution of milk consumption to the emergence and spread of AMR. With Kuleí smart-thermometers, Maasai have a durable, simple, and intuitive indication of when their milk has been properly pasteurized. This device, encased in a robust FDA- approved nylon housing, is put into a pot of milk that is placed over a fire. Once the milk heats up, the thermometer begins sensing and recording temperature readings. Upon reaching pasteurization temperature, an LED light turns on to indicate that the milk is pasteurized, safe to drink and can be removed from the fire.

Team Members
  • Mark Caudell, Postdoctoral Associate
    Global Animal Health
Funding Date

June 2018