Washington State Magazine

Spring 2002

Spring 2002

In This Issue...


Nurses to the homeless :: Gypsy's camp is evidence of the harsh living conditions faced by a growing number of homeless in Spokane. It also doubles as a classroom, and a lesson in reality, for student nurses. By Andrea Vogt.

A campus full of wonders :: All over campus, curiosities emerged from closets to form one of the most popular and unusual shows ever to fill the art museum. By Tim Steury.

What don't we know? :: James Krueger wants to know why the average person will spend 219,000 hours asleep. By James Krueger and Tim Steury.

Memories are made of this :: Neuroscientists Jay Wright and Joe Harding can approximate Alzheimer's symptoms in a rat by injecting a certain protein into its hippocampus. What's more, they can reverse those symptoms. By Tim Steury.

Catherine Mathews Friel is thankful for...Life in a small college town :: Catherine Friel has lived in Pullman nearly 100 years, and she has some stories to tell. By Pat Caraher.

Opening Day...a great way to reunite Cougars :: Cougars batten their hatches and hoist their mainsails. By Pat Caraher.


The Peking Cowboy :: He wanted to tell the story in the third person, but it came out in the first; he wanted to tell it in the past, but it came out happening in the now; even if he wanted to, he could not change a word of it, its sequence and language clarifying its own shape and direction in his voice. A short story by Alex Kuo.




Cover: Student Jennifer Schwarzer and Intercollegiate College of Nursing instructor Carol Allen. Read the story here. Photograph by Ira Gardner.


Better chow

by | © Washington State University

As anyone who has stir-fried vegetables knows, quickly cooking foods at high temperatures makes for crisper, fresher-tasting foods than using slow-cooking methods.

So it is that over the past six years, associate professor of biological systems engineering Juming Tang and his associates have been working on new technologies to produce high-quality, ready-to-eat military rations (MREs) and “humanitarian daily rations” like those recently air-dropped in Afghanistan.

With conventional methods, lengthy processing times are necessary to kill harmful bacteria that can thrive even in hermetically sealed packages. Depending on package size and type of food, traditional  processing can take anywhere from one to two hours. By the time the core is adequately heated, the outside of the meal can overcook.

A microwave sterilization system developed in Tang’s laboratory cuts that time to approximately five minutes.

While the project is still in the pilot stage, the researchers hope their work will eventually allow the military to provide better tasting and more varied meals, including foods such as eggs, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese.

Tang has received more than $350,000 in grants from the U.S. Army in the past three years. Last fall, the Department of Defense and U.S. Army approved a Dual Use Science and Technology proposal for $460,000 for a two-year project with participating faculty members from Food Science and Human Nutrition, Biological Systems Engineering, Mathematics, and Mechanical Engineering at WSU. Several U.S. food processing, packaging, and equipment companies have also committed resources. A consortium hopes to translate the pilot-scale results into commercial processes within the next four to five years. If successful, this technology could be used not only to produce high quality MREs, but also high quality shelf-stable meals for families or institutions.

Categories: Biological sciences, Engineering | Tags: Food, Cooking

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