Walla Walla University: Meet the Faculty

February 12, 2016

By the time winter quarter classes began last month, Walla Walla University faculty had logged countless hours preparing lab experiments, syllabi and lectures — not to mention a few quizzes and exams. They take seriously their responsibility to pass on knowledge to the next generation and to shape the way students think. Meet three faculty members who have recently spent many hours themselves in classrooms and research facilities honing their skills and exploring their various fields of study.

Chronic pain in teens

Kari Firestone, WWU School of Nursing associate professor of nursing and associate dean, was named a 2014–2016 Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar, a program that supports doctoral nursing students. With the award, Firestone is pursuing a doctorate from Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.

Firestone is interested in advancing health for children and families. Her doctoral research examines the use of low-intensity exercise for pain-management in adolescents experiencing chronic, widespread pain.

“One of the biggest areas of interest to me was how much kids who experience chronic pain do not participate in the ‘work’ of childhood — playing with other kids, participating in school and sports, etc.,” says Firestone. “There has been a lot of research in adult populations using various forms of exercise for the deleterious effects of chronic pain, but scant evidence in children.”

Firestone presented her research last October in Washington, D.C., at a national conference on the future of nursing.

DNA Damage and Repair

The research of David Lindsey, professor of biology and chairman of the biology department, has recently been published in the online biomedical and life science journal eLife.

In the article, Lindsey and eight other contributors provide key insights into the process of DNA repair by identifying key protein interactions within cells. Lindsey is an expert in this field and joins scientists from as far as Grenoble, France, to compile the research.

“DNA repair is a critical process,” Lindsey explains. “If DNA is damaged, it must be repaired before cell division. If not, the genetic defect is replicated and passed down to the daughter cells.” Further understanding this process sheds light on serious medical issues such as determining how diseases like cancer begin and spread.

“I greatly value working with undergraduate students here at the university,” says Lindsey. “My roles as a teacher and a researcher are interconnected.”

Study of Faith-Based Credit Unions

Bruce Toews, associate professor of business, recently completed a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree with a concentration in finance from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minn.

Toews successfully defended his dissertation on the question of whether the religious culture of faith-based credit unions influenced their financial results. “I found some significant differences at faith-based credit unions, which indicated that religion may indeed affect financial performance and risk tolerance,” says Toews.

While working on his doctorate, Toews taught full time and attended residencies in the summers.

Zachary White and Libby Knapp, WWU university relations student writers, and Kim Strobel, WWU marketing and university relations supervisor