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College of Arts and Sciences Research

Dr. Universe: What’s the best story ever made?

Dr. Universe: a cat in a lab coatHumans have been telling stories for thousands of years. At first, they told these stories out loud, then they started to write.

There are more than a hundred million published books on our planet now and to find out which one is best, I visited my friend Matthew Jockers. He’s a professor at Washington State University who combines his love of stories with computer science to research what makes some books bestsellers. » More …

Unlocking secrets of the ice worm

A close up shot of a human finger with mud and sand covering the tip. In the mud is a tiny black worm.The ice worm is one of the largest organisms that spends its entire life in ice and Washington State University scientist Scott Hotaling is one of the only people on the planet studying it.

He is the author of a new paper that shows ice worms in the interior of British Columbia have evolved into what may be a genetically distinct species from Alaskan ice worms. » More …

Dr. Universe: Why do we dance?

Dr. UniverseIf we traveled around the world, we would see all kinds of dancers. We might see classical ballerinas in Russia. We might see break dancers performing on the streets of New York. We might even see tango dancers in Argentina.

While the exact reasons we dance remain a mystery, there are a few theories about it.

That’s what I found out from my friend Ed Hagen, an anthropologist at WSU who has researched the roots of dance. » More …

In search of microplastics in food

portrait outsideWhile shocking images of giant gyres of plastic trash in the world’s oceans cause widespread alarm, a more insidious threat to ecological and human health may be the nearly invisible microplastics in local waters, said environmental science professor Alex Fremier.

Supported by a Fulbright Global Scholar Award, Fremier will spend four months in Belém, Brazil, collecting water, fish and sediment samples in the Lower Amazon River Basin with the aim » More …

Examining churches’ role in fighting poverty

Book coverA new book by a WSU Tri‑Cities associate professor of history examines the complex relationship between religion, race, and government‑led antipoverty initiatives, and how this complex dynamic resonates in today’s political situation.

In his book, titled Fighting to Preserve a Nation’s Soul: America’s Ecumenical War on Poverty, Robert Bauman explores organized religion’s role in the struggle against poverty and its impact on social movements, the on‑going “War on Poverty” (initiated by President Lynden Johnson in 1964), and the power balance between church and state. » More …

Hearing the whispers

Annita LucchesiThe Indian name of Annita Lucchesi (’16 MA Amer. Studies), who is a Southern Cheyenne descendant, is Hetoevėhotohke’e—which translates to the peaceful sounding Evening Star Woman. But Lucchesi calls herself mé’êśko’áe—a hellraiser girl, one who is always stirring things up.

In November 2018, Lucchesi produced a groundbreaking report on missing women that was published by the Urban Indian Health Institute, a division of the Seattle Indian Health Board. U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer, » More …

Senior’s antibiotic resistance review earns Library Research Award

Miles RobertsHeadlines warning of the dangers of antibiotic resistance appear in the news almost every day. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, 10 million people could die each year from diseases that have become resistant to drugs.

Biology major Miles Roberts wanted to know how science is working to counter this trend. So, for his “Microbes in Nature and Society” class (Biology 402), he reviewed 65 scientific articles and turned his research into a paper called “Maximizing Costs to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance Evolution.” His thorough investigation resulted in » More …

$1.4M DoD grant supports new eDNA techniques

Caren Goldberg near an Idaho pond.Freshly drawn from an Idaho pond, the half-liter of water running through Caren Goldberg’s funnel-shaped filter carries trace cells and tiny fragments bearing DNA—genetic code from native frogs and salamanders.

Those few strands of code say a lot to Goldberg, a WSU scientist who studies environmental DNA, or eDNA—genetic material sampled from soil or water rather than directly from an organism. The samples not only identify the animals who live in this pond, they hold the potential to » More …

Statistician to aid international whale conservation research

Gray WhaleLeslie New, a WSU Vancouver assistant professor of statistics who specializes in the impacts of humans on wildlife, has been named to a scientific panel studying endangered whales found off the coast of Russia’s Sakhalin Island.

New will spend three years on the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, an independent scientific advisory body to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. She and her fellow panelists will look for ways to assess and manage the impacts of the region’s oil, gas and fishing industries, evaluate ways to monitor » More …

International internships, research inspire new direction

Collecting samples in Portland. Heading next to Switzerland in search of new insights about aquatic invasive species, world traveler and newly minted Ph.D. Eric Dexter is a late-blooming research success story.

Dexter was planning to become an acupuncturist when he inadvertently discovered a love for scientific research. » More …