Research & Mentoring: A Dynamic Duo that Spells Success

By Amir Gilmore

With 13 scholarships and awards, four peer-reviewed journal articles, and 24 conference presentations to her name, Spokane local and recent doctoral graduate Chrystal Quisenberry exudes hard work, commitment, and dedication. Because of her devotion to scholarship and public service, Chrystal was recently the recipient of the Harriett B. Rigas Award, presented to outstanding doctoral students who emanate exceptional performance in their academics, teaching and mentoring, and service to the community.

As a first-year graduate student, I found Chrystal’s experience at WSU impactful. Her focus on research paired with her devotion to mentoring are characteristics that many students inspire to.

Chrystal began attending WSU for her undergraduate degree in 2008, when she met Dr. Nehal Abu-Lail, the professor who would later became her mentor. Chrystal attributes her success to Abu-Lail’s mentorship.

“She encouraged me to work on my PhD with her on a project I had expressed interest in,” said Chrystal. “Not only is she an academic advisor, she encourages me to figure out what I want because she believes I can achieve what I want. It’s individuals like her who can really make a difference in a person’s life.”

Chrystal graduated this spring from the School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. Her research aims to progress joint disease treatment by focusing on articular cartilage tissue engineering. By growing adult stem cells into cartilage cells in a bioreactor, Chrystal was able to create tissue that has the same mechanical and functional properties as native tissue. This research is crucial because of the number of people who suffer from joint disease.

“Although more than 27 million people in the U.S. suffer from the joint disease osteoarthritis, current treatments do not restore the full functions of that tissue,” Chrystal said.

As an undergraduate student, Chrystal was a Cougar of Color Ambassador, where she worked with underrepresented undergraduate prospective students. As a graduate student, she informally mentored students who expressed interest. For example, while in the laboratory Chrystal provided guidance to Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering undergraduates. Through her servant leadership, she convinced students to further their education and attend graduate school. She also volunteered for events that encouraged science and research, such as the Seattle Science Festival. She was also a judge for the Future Cities Competiton and sat on a career panel for the Cougar Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE), which is research tutorial program designed to help undergraduates pursue a career in research.

For more information about the School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering click here.

About the writer
Amir Gilmore is a doctoral student in Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education and a graduate assistant in the Graduate School.