CWU News

Keck Foundation Awards $275,000 to CWU Foundation for New STEM Curriculum

The Central Washington University Foundation received a $275,000 grant from the W.M Keck Foundation to help develop new multidisciplinary curriculum in the areas of water, air, soil, and snow.

Known as the WASSER Project (integrating new analytical facilities into Water, Air, Soil, and Snow Education and Research). The donation provides supplementary funding to a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation program.

The W.M. Keck Foundation award will provide funding for faculty support, curriculum development, a part-time laboratory technician, supplies, undergraduate stipends, and travel.

"The generous support from the W.M. Keck Foundation will ensure a successful outcome for the WASSER project," said Scott Wade, vice president of University Advancement and executive director, CWU Foundation. "Their funding was critical to fully realize the potential of our instrumentation and faculty expertise."

The WASSER program incorporates new, state-of-the-art geochemistry instruments into a wide variety of courses, and augments undergraduate research in geology, chemistry and environmental sciences. Students at every level will be able to collect and analyze data from the new equipment. There will also be enhanced opportunities for undergraduate research experiences, including a summer research program targeted at underrepresented groups.

Examples of mentored research opportunities for undergraduates include: water, precipitation and ice chemistry; characterization of aerosols produced by biomass burning; trace metal and isotopic composition of Washington State wines; lead in local waters; and mercury, arsenic, and carbon content in local soils.

The project will be led by three CWU scientists. Overseeing the grant coordination and budget is Carey Gazis, an environmental geochemist/hydrogeologist, with expertise in water quality and quantity, and soil geochemistry. The other co-principal investigators are Anne Johansen, an analytical/ environmental chemist, with expertise in water, precipitation, aerosol, and wine chemistry; and Susan Kaspari, an environmental geologist with expertise in ice, snow and aerosol geochemistry. They will work with Gazis to develop curriculum, oversee undergraduate researchers and work with faculty to integrate the WASSER curriculum into their courses. 

WM Keck Foundation
The W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 in Los Angeles by William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Company. The foundation seeks to generate far-reaching benefits for humanity by supporting pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medicine, and organizations that enrich the lives of children, youth, and families.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,