A mother feeding an infant with a bottle of milk. A cannabis leaf is superimposed over the top right corner of the image.Three research projects, including one designed by Washington State University anthropologist Courtney Meehan, were awarded $50,000 each in this spring’s Cougar Cage event.

In a format modeled after the popular entrepreneurial TV show “Shark Tank,” the event seeks to match private donors with worthwhile projects pitched by students, faculty and staff across the WSU system.

Funding is provided by the Palouse Club, a group of philanthropists and investors from the Puget Sound Region dedicated to helping support the success of the university.

Courtney Meehan

Cannabis, human milk composition, and infant development

In an effort to address the historical lack of research on pregnant and breastfeeding women, Meehan, professor of anthropology and CAS associate dean for research and graduate studies, seeks to populate the information desert surrounding these vulnerable individuals and their children.

Her proposed study will assess whether milk composition differs among women who use and do not use cannabis, and how the presence of cannabinoids in milk affects infant development. Meehan hopes the results will enable healthcare providers to offer evidence-based advice and allow mothers to make more informed decisions.

Cougar Cage

“We are excited by the potential of the work we are seeing,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “Cougar Cage is a fantastic opportunity for WSU researchers to match with private donors that want to make an impact. This program provides inspiring opportunities each semester, and we look forward to seeing where these projects will go with the support of the Palouse Club.”

Since its launch in January 2021, fifteen proposals have received nearly $575,000 in funding through Cougar Cage events. The three projects selected for funding in this round encapsulate a broad range of initiatives emerging from the university system.

Mike Connell, vice president for advancement and CEO of the WSU Foundation, and Victoria Miles, associate vice president, attended the Cougar Cage event alongside President Schulz and Palouse Club members.

The next Cougar Cage event is planned for the fall of 2022.

Top image: Stock photo

By Kylie Condosta, WSU Insider