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College of Arts and Sciences Faculty

Where you live may influence your baby’s behavior

Babies lying down.Infants from rural families tend to display negative emotions such as anger and frustration more frequently than their urban counterparts, according to a recent study in the Journal of Community Psychology.

Babies born in big cities, on the other hand, typically are less fussy and not as bothered by limits set by their caregivers.

The study, led by WSU psychologist Maria Gartstein and » More …

Dr. Universe: How was popcorn discovered?

Dr. UniverseThere’s nothing quite like making popcorn: the snapping kernels, the warm buttery smell, and the knowledge that a delicious snack will be ready in minutes. It gives you some good time to think and wonder: how did humans first start doing this?

To find out where popcorn came from, I visited my friend Erin Thornton, an archaeologist at WSU. Archaeologists study how humans lived in the past—including the things they ate. To learn the story of popcorn, we have to trace the history of maize. » More …

Organic molecules on Mars consistent with early life

Surface of Mars.Thiophenes, organic compounds found on Earth in coal, crude oil, and white truffles, were recently discovered on Mars, and astrobiologists  think their presence would be consistent with the presence of early life on Mars.

Dirk Schulze‑Makuch, WSU adjunct professor in the School of the » More …

Dynamic art project gives students fitting, real-world experience

Wall art made with wooden cogs. Title reads, "Discovery".Like the gears in a finely tuned machine, donor contributions keep many non-profits – including the Palouse Discovery Science Center – running smoothly. So when digital media students at WSU were asked to visually represent donor support for the PDSC, the idea of interconnected gears quickly emerged and became, quite literally, the perfect fit.

Seventeen undergraduates in Reza Safavi’s introductory Digital Design and Fabrication course last spring worked individually and as a team to create a 7-by-7-foot interactive art installation composed of 22 precision-cut » More …

Scientists look to public to help collect migratory data

During the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge, which started on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, and runs through April 22, Earth Day, California residents are asked to report sightings of monarchs. The data they collect will give much-needed insight into the butterflies’ habitat needs during the spring months, so researchers can better target conservation efforts.

“We are already receiving sighting reports, which is very exciting,” said Cheryl Schultz, a WSU biology professor and a lead researcher on the project. “The reports show » More …

Biologist receives $1 million NSF grant to study food crops

Stephanie Porter.Stephanie Porter, an assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences at WSU Vancouver, has received a prestigious $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. Over the five-year grant period, Porter will study the symbiosis between plants and their beneficial microbes and how that relationship changes as people domesticate plants for their own use. » More …

I, scientist

Hypatia illustration.Angela Jones (’94 English) is the CEO of Washington STEM, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with communities, businesses, and educators to ensure youth have equitable access to STEM education. They work with ten regional STEM networks across the state to help direct resources and scale successful programs that aim to ensure that there is cradle to career support for STEM skills. This means working to strengthen math skills for the state’s youngest students so they can start » More …

Origins of Leap Year

Playing leap frog.With 2020 being a Leap Year—a once-every-four-years manifestation created to deal with our imprecise notion of a year being 365 days—WSU experts looked back on the development of the modern calendar.

Ancient civilizations depended on the cosmos above to guide their decisions, said Michael Allen, a senior instructor in physics and astronomy.

“We know from things like Stonehenge that ancient peoples were aware of the motion in the sky and » More …

Four music ensembles to present showcase in Spokane

4 images: A trumpet player, a full orchestra, a group of vocalists, and cast of performers on stage.Jazz, opera, orchestra and choir—like a four-course feast for the ears, the musical showcase by WSU students and faculty on March 3 at the Fox Theatre in Spokane will serve up an array of aural treats.

Four ensembles from WSU’s School of Music in Pullman will travel to the Lilac City to perform selections from several well-known composers and some original music by » More …

Dr. Universe: Where does the universe end?

Dr. UniverseWhen you look up at the night sky, it can feel like the universe is a big blanket of stars above you. But unlike a blanket, the universe doesn’t have corners and edges. Far beyond what humans can see, the universe keeps going. As far as humans know, it never stops. To learn more, I went straight to my friend Michael Allen. He is a senior instructor of physics and astronomy at WSU.

The universe is bigger than the biggest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s bigger than » More …