Skip to main content Skip to navigation
College of Arts and Sciences seabertson

Historical detective story traces Indian Ocean slave saga

Illustration from book coverA detailed family saga set against the broader context of South Asian slavery, plantation life, Parisian society and French colonization, “Madeleine’s Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France’s Indian Ocean Colonies” by history professor Sue Peabody traces the multigenerational biography of a slave family and their legal battles for freedom.

Peabody is one of the world’s leading authorities on slavery in the French Empire. The research took her to » More …

WSU/UI team to develop national milk conference

Female black and white cowA team of researchers from Washington State University and the University of Idaho has received a $50,000 grant from the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program to organize a national conference in Washington, D.C., on the compositions of bovine and human milk.

“Human milk is the only food ever designed by nature to feed humans, but cows’ milk comes close,” said Michelle McGuire, professor in the WSU School of Biological Sciences. “The more we can learn » More …

In the company of penguins, whales, and pteropods

Researcher in red coat in snow field Luana Lins, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Biological Sciences, is fresh off a month-long visit studying polar organisms as part of the National Science Foundation’s Training Program in Antarctica for Early-Career Scientists. When she wasn’t counting bacteria or extracting the DNA of pteropods, Lins was visited by penguins, watched whales, and toured the drafty hut assembled in 1902 by Robert Falcon Scott. She saw precious little fresh food and not a single vascular plant.

“Antarctica is beautiful, magical and harsh,” Lins said on her return. “I left with an extreme awareness » More …

Unique $1 million Keck Foundation grant to develop self-replicating materials

Hipps Brozikfull in the labChemistry researchers at WSU have been awarded $1 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop molecular machines that self-replicate, producing pounds of 100-percent pure material.

Their research is the first step towards a new paradigm in manufacturing where everything from smartphones to life-saving cancer drugs could be designed one atom at a time to exact specifications and then grown out of a vat.

“In the end, the product of this research is going to be a new field of science where we can make literally almost anything in a way only seen » More …

Dr. Universe: What experiments can you recommend?

Dr. UniverseYou can try all kinds of fun experiments at home. It really all depends on what you are curious about. Lately, I’ve seen some really great sunsets and started wondering what gives them their colors.

I decided to ask my friend Tom Johnson, who leads fun physics demonstrations for kids visiting Washington State University. I asked him if he had any simple ideas for an experiment I could try out in my lab, or even the kitchen. One idea he had was to create a sunset in a cup. » More …

Professor’s research to help choral conductors in India

Dean Luethi video stillDean Luethi, associate professor in the WSU School of Music, has been asked by the National Association for Music Educators (NAFME) to produce four levels of choral conducting instruction to be offered via online videos so choral conductors in India can earn a mini-credential by the Western Music Educators Association (WMEA) in music instruction.

The NAFME began the WMEA in India three years ago to help music teachers by offering resources which will prepare them for the classroom. » More …

Dr. Universe: How do we get our personality?

Dr. UniverseEveryone is different. Maybe you are adventurous, shy, outgoing, funny, or kind. Before you were even born, your unique personality was beginning to take shape.

That’s what I found out from my friend Chris Barry, a psychologist at Washington State University. He studies personality in young people, including how people express themselves on social media. He was really excited to hear about this question from Jamie, age 11.

Part of the answer is that some of your personality comes from your parents. Just as parents pass down physical traits like hair and eye color to their offspring, they can also » More …

History professors launch community conversations

WSU Vancouver history professor Sue Peabody and adjunct professor Donna Sinclair were looking at the demographic records of Clark County, Washington, and noticed some surprising facts. The local population has more than doubled in the past three decades, from 221,654 to nearly 500,000 in 2017. And while more than half (54 percent) of the current residents were born in another state, another 10 percent of the county’s residents were born in another country altogether.

The data started them thinking: “How did all these people come to Clark County?” and “How is Clark County changing in response to this growth?” » More …

Life always finds a way

Dirk Schulze-Makuch and team in the Atacama Desert

For the first time, researchers have seen life rebounding in the world’s driest desert, demonstrating that it could also be lurking in the soils of Mars.

Led by Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an international team studied the driest corner of South America’s Atacama Desert, where decades pass without any rain. Scientists have long wondered whether microbes in the soil of this hyperarid environment, the most similar place on Earth to the Martian surface, » More …

Nicotine identified in ancient dental plaque

A 1945 picture of a Yokuts Native American woman smoking a pipeA team of scientists including researchers from Washington State University has shown for the first time that nicotine residue can be extracted from plaque, also known as “dental calculus”, on the teeth of ancient tobacco users.

Their research provides a new method for determining who was consuming tobacco in the ancient world and could help trace the use of tobacco and other intoxicating plants further back into prehistory.

“The ability to identify nicotine and other plant-based drugs in ancient dental plaque could help us answer longstanding questions about the consumption of intoxicants by » More …

Washington State University