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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Faculty

Ask Dr. Universe: How do mountains form?

Dr. Universe. A cartoon cat in a lab coatWhen you walk around on land, you are walking on top of Earth’s rocky crust. Below the crust is another thick layer of rock. These layers form Earth’s tectonic plates and when those plates collide with each other, they often form mountains.

To find out about how mountains form, I visited my friend Julie Menard, a professor at Washington State University who is very curious about geology. » More …

Improving WARNS, a K-12 at-risk assessment tool

Stacked books.An interdisciplinary team of Washington State University researchers received a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to refine and expand the Washington Assessment of the Risks and Needs of Students program (WARNS), an assessment that helps address truancy in K-12 schools.,

Developed in 2008, the program uses evidence-driven procedures to track and improve interventions with students. More than 100 schools in Washington state and across the nation » More …

Sociologist’s new book examines changing rural economics

Jennifer Sherman holding her new book, Dividing Paradise: Rural Inequality and the Diminishing American Dream.Even before COVID-19 prompted thousands of city-dwellers to seek new lifestyles in the country, sociology professor Jennifer Sherman had been researching and writing about a remote place she calls “Paradise Valley,” where efforts to revitalize the local economy with an influx of restaurants, cafes, hotels, and souvenir shops dramatically changed the community.

Her new book, Dividing Paradise: Rural Inequality and the Diminishing American Dream tells the story of » More …

Dr. Universe: How do trees give us air to breathe?

Dr. UniverseOur planet is home to all kinds of different plants, and they help make a lot of the oxygen we breathe. To find out how plants make oxygen, I asked my friend Balasaheb Sonawane, a scientist at WSU who researches photosynthesis, or the ways plants use energy from the sun and make oxygen. He said that in a way, plants breathe, too. » More …

Radio program connects NW past to present

Keren Phoenix and Brenna Miller.A Spokane resident whose invention transformed the shipping industry;  a woman who passed as a man and worked as a bartender, bronco buster, and longshoreman; plus preachers, prisoners, ranchers, immigrants, cowgirls, and soldiers are among the myriad people whose stories illuminate the history of the Northwest in Past as Prologue, a new radio program created by WSU historians Karen Phoenix and Brenna Miller. » More …

New technology to uncover wrongs from the past

Historic photo of a schoolhouse.Colin Grier, a WSU professor of anthropology, is the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation-funded effort to shed light on the capabilities of ground penetrating radar (GPR) to find and identify archaeological features, including graves, that are many decades or even centuries old. He hopes that ultimately his work will help bring closure to the families of the thousands of First Nation children who went missing at Canada’s Indian Residential Schools, which operated between 1883-1996. » More …

Royal Historical Society honors for Hatter

Lawrence Hatter.Associate professor of history Lawrence B.A. Hatter is among 99 people from across the globe recently elected a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Historical Society (RHS).

The 153-year-old organization based in the U.K. recognized Hatter for his “contribution to the discipline of history.” » More …

Q&A with Heather Watts

Heather Well.Providing excellent training and mentoring for students in a supportive and inclusive environment that values diversity is a priority for Heather Watts. An associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, she integrates behavior, physiology, ecology and evolution to investigate the relationships between environmental variation, life history patterns, and the behavior and physiology of individuals. » More …

Nelson honored for teaching excellence

Lori Nelson drawing on a lightboard.An early adopter of the Looking Glass technology, Lori Nelson actively engages her biology students and promotes the development of a growth mindset in every course she teaches. She was honored with this year’s WSU Tri-Cities Distinguished Teaching Award in recognition of her commitment to improvement, thoughtful approach to course design, and development of classes that are creative, interesting, and fun. » More …

Teaching the teachers

Writing with a fountain pen.Earlier this year, six CAS professors spent 12 weeks as learners themselves in the new WORD! Faculty Fellowship program. The experienced educators were challenged to think about how to help students write within the context of their various disciplines.

WORD! workshops help faculty understand “how writing can be the process through which students learn the content and [how to] inspire students to become better » More …