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Most-read research stories of 2020

College of Arts and Sciences - Washington State University.In a year dominated by COVID-19, popular research news played on questions of how things could get worse, or how we might leave this troubled planet altogether. Overall, news stories about WSU research that did the best still had a focus on real world impact.

CAS faculty featured in five of the top 10 most popular stories, and were well-represented in the next 90-plus press releases tracked by WSU News.

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Cannabis use and entrepreneurial creativity

Cannabis.New venture ideation is critical to the entrepreneurial process. To generate creative ideas, some entrepreneurs turn to cannabis, proposing its benefits.

A new study by WSU psychology and business professors found cognitive, motivational, and experiential factors jointly shape creativity in new venture ideation. And while cannabis-using entrepreneurs in the study generated new business ideas that were more original—such as a weightless, gravity-free virtual » More …

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 …

Women influenced coevolution of dogs and humans

A woman with a dog.Man’s best friend might actually belong to a woman.

In a cross-cultural analysis, Washington State University researchers found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly—gender. » More …

Wildlife ecologists document rare jaguar-ocelot interaction

A trail camera shows jaguar attacks an ocelot at night..In what may be a sign of climate-change-induced conflict, researchers have captured rare photographic evidence of a jaguar killing another predatory wild cat at an isolated waterhole in Guatemala.

Captured in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in March 2019, a dry month in a drought year for the tropical forest, by wildlife ecologists from WSU and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the event is » More …

Tasmanian devils may survive their own pandemic

Tasmanian devilAmid the global COVID-19 crisis, there is some good news about a wildlife pandemic—which may also help scientists better understand how other emerging diseases evolve.

WSU researchers have found strong evidence that a transmissible cancer that has decimated Tasmanian devil populations likely won’t spell their doom. » More …

Fine arts education flourishes in face of pandemic

Four people sit on a couch with their faces lit up but obstructed by the digital devices they're holding in front of them., photograph, Samantha Wiltermood.From moist, cool clay to wet, drippy paint and dry, smudgy charcoal, visual art is a distinctly hands-on, sometimes messy, field of practice and study. So, what happens when art education goes online?

“Remote teaching certainly hasn’t slowed us down. In fact, these strange times have helped us reimagine new, more expanded ways to reach out to our students while still having deep and meaningful experiences in » More …

Artist combines dance, psychology in documentaries

Dance performance.Through her recent collaboration with EcoArts on the Palouse, psychology graduate student Hannah Levy created “Staying with the Pause,” a dance documentary which touches on the struggles many people face during the pandemic.

“For a documentary dance, the main purpose is highlighting the story more than anything,” said Levy. This form of storytelling allows her to combine a love for dance with psychology to create a beautiful and emotional experience. » 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 …

Football-loving states slow to enact youth concussion laws

"American football" by alschim (Creative Commons)States with college teams in strong conferences, in particular the Southeastern Conference (SEC), were among the last to take up regulations on youth concussions, according to a recent study by WSU sociologists. The research, which investigated the association between youth sport participation and passage of concussion legislation, uncovered the importance of SEC affiliation, and found a similar connection in states with high » More …