Grad studies crowned with research, mentoring success

By Amir Gilmore, Graduate School

Quisenberry-mugPULLMAN, Wash. – Inspired by her Washington State University professor and mentor, recent doctoral graduate Chrystal Quisenberry applied dedication and hard work to her cartilage research and to helping other students. For her devotion to scholarship and public service, she recently received the WSU Association of Faculty Women’s Harriett B. Rigas Award for doctoral students who excel in academics, teaching, mentoring and service.

Quisenberry attributes her success to professor Nehal Abu-Lail’s mentorship: “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.”

As an undergraduate, Quisenberry was a Cougar of Color Ambassador, working with underrepresented undergraduate prospective students. As a graduate student, she informally mentored students, convincing some to further their education and attend graduate school.

Quisenberry-web by Bob Hubner
Chrystal Quisenberry. (Photos by Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services)

She is an advocate for women and people of color entering the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. She believes that encouragement and mentoring can make a difference in the lives of students, especially those going into a field where they are underrepresented.

“As a first Ph.D. student in my family, I wanted to mentor and encourage those students and let them know they can do it,” she said. “Anyone interested in the STEM fields deserves encouragement and mentoring.”

Quisenberry has volunteered for events that encourage science and research, such as the Seattle Science Festival, the Future Cities Competiton and the Cougar Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE), a research tutorial program designed to help undergraduates pursue a career in research.

Her own 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, she 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,” she said.

During her time at WSU, Spokane native Quisenberry received 13 scholarships and awards, published four peer-reviewed journal articles and made 24 conference presentations. She graduated in spring from the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering ( after defending her dissertation.

Though she is not certain of the direction her doctoral degree will take her, she is open to conducting research, teaching and becoming a scientific writer.