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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Archives

New research in these interesting times

In March 2020, when the University moved to distance learning to comply with stay-at-home orders, some WSU Vancouver researchers who were unable to pursue their existing projects turned instead to look at how COVID-19 was affecting various communities.

The new projects are “a lot broader than what people might expect. We are not looking for better testing or a vaccine or methods of contact tracing, but rather the impacts of the pandemic on various communities,” said Christine Portfors,  vice chancellor for research and » More …

Radio Re-Imagined: storytelling with sound

On air. “A Radio Christmas Carol,” a WSU Vancouver community holiday tradition, returns this Christmas Eve via radio rather than an in-person public performance.

“We want to spark listeners’ imaginations with this sound-based performance, not to mention bring a program of joy and hope,” said John Barber, faculty member in the Creative Media and Digital Culture program and creator of Radio Re-Imagined. This marks the eighth year » More …

Beavers may help amphibians threatened by climate change

The recovery of beavers may have beneficial consequences for amphibians because beaver dams can create the unique habitats that amphibians need.

“Beaver-dammed wetlands support more of the amphibian species that need a long time to develop in water as larvae before they are able to live on land as adults,” said Jonah Piovia-Scott, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences and one of » More …

The power of symbiosis

Stephanie Porter.“Understanding the complex and often positive role the microbiome plays in the health of plants and animals has precipitated a real renaissance in biology,” says microbiologist Stephanie Porter, who studies the evolution of cooperation and plant–microbe symbiosis. “There’s been a blossoming of ideas due to new genomic tools for understanding this microbiome—the set of all microbes that live in and on plants and animals.”

“But there’s also been a shift in our thinking about microbes. We’ve moved from microbes being viewed strictly as the cause of diseases or that they are at best harmless, to thinking they have » More …

More economic worries mean less caution about COVID‑19

Hands and hand sanitizer.Workers experiencing job and financial insecurity are less likely to follow the CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19, such as physical distancing, limiting trips from home and washing hands, according to a study led by WSU Vancouver psychology professor Tahira Probst.

“We all have a finite set of resources at our disposal, whether it’s money, time or social support, and individuals who have fewer of those resources appear » More …

War songs and lullabies behind origins of music

Horns in a marching band.Love is not the reason why we sing and create symphonies—at least not the primary reason, according to a new evolutionary theory of the origins of music.

“Sex and mating are a part of the story, but music seems to expand far beyond that particular domain,” said Ed Hagen, WSU evolutionary anthropologist and a co-author of a study recently published in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

“The sexual selection hypothesis doesn’t really explain » More …

More than just noise

fish artwork over blue backgroundAllison Coffin, a neuroscientist in the College of Arts and Sciences at WSU Vancouver, focuses on hearing, hear-loss prevention, and even on sensory cell regeneration—something no mammal is known to be able to do, unlike many birds and fish.

For sound to get from the air around us to our brains, it passes through a kind of Rube Goldberg device, funneling through a canal, stopping to play a drum solo, then moving through the cochlea where the vibrations tickle tiny cilia sticking out of » More …

Family, career, and an educational journey

Samantha Edgerton.Before she decided to pursue a graduate degree in history, Samantha Edgerton worked in the disability and insurance industry for 18 years.

“I was hesitant to start a master’s program because of my age,” Edgerton said, “but my adviser encouraged me to not let that prevent me. It has been a dream of mine to finish my degree and to actually be able to call myself a historian,” Edgerton said. “While it has been incredibly difficult, so many people encouraged me not to quit.” » More …