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College of Arts and Sciences Biological Sciences

Big data on big animals

Work at the WSU Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center goes well beyond important things like enrichment programs and energy-monitoring collars. WSU scientists are looking at the genomic level to try and determine the myriad ways that bears adapt to their climate.

Joanna Kelley, an evolutionary geneticist and assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, said for the last two years, her lab has collected three different samples from six of the bears three times a year. Each sample has over 200 million pieces of data, giving them 10.8 billion pieces of data to wade through each » More …

Biology professor serves as lead editor for Encyclopedia of Reproduction

Illustration of a sperm connecting with an eggFun fact: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek witnessed the “presence and vigor” of his own spermatozoa, which he called “animalcules,” in one of the first uses of the single-lens microscope.

This observation is among thousands in the second edition of the “Encyclopedia of Reproduction,” a magnum opus involving more than 1,000 authors, nearly 600 cross-referenced chapters, and edited by WSU biologist Michael Skinner and eight associate editors. At 3,868 pages » More …

Scholarships for faculty-mentored research

College of Arts and SciencesSeven students and six faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences are among this year’s 27 recipients of two selective scholarships offered by the WSU Office of Undergraduate Research for students pursuing mentored research, scholarly activity or creative projects at WSU.

“Our ability to support students in their research is made possible thanks to generous donors who envision the contributions these students will make in the future to Washington, the United States, and » More …

Student projects earn Summer Scholars awards

Students working in a labFour student projects mentored by College of Arts and Sciences faculty were selected to receive $3,000 each as part of the 2018 WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor’s Summer Scholars program. The projects span environmental and biological sciences, mechanical and electrical engineering, and fine arts.

The Chancellor’s Summer Scholars Program offers students the opportunity to develop skills to » More …

Dr. Universe: How do cacti survive in hot, dry environments?

Dr. Universe. A cartoon cat in a lab coatAll plants need water to survive. Those that live in places where water is scarce use some interesting strategies to stay alive.

That’s what I found out from my friend Charles Cody, who manages one of the greenhouses at Washington State University. When I went to visit the greenhouse, he pointed out a few different cacti. One was tall and cylindrical with big spines. Another was » More …

North America’s first electron microscope

Composite image of the restored microscope and the researchers' notebookEarly in the 20th century, a five-foot-tall golden microscope on the Washington State University campus was the most powerful imaging device on the continent. Despite its scientific significance, it has been largely lost from the pages of history.

“Europe’s first electron microscope earned its inventors a Nobel prize and is on display at the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest museum of science and technology, while nobody really knows about our instrument.” said Michael Knoblauch, biology professor and director of WSU’s Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center. “Something of this significance should be in the Smithsonian.” » More …

Dr. Universe: Why are animals symmetrical?

Dr. Universe: a cat in a lab coatIf we drew an imaginary line straight down the middle of the human body, it would look pretty similar on each side.

We see this kind of symmetry in lots of animals, from cats and birds to worms and frogs. In fact, about 99 percent of animals have bilateral or two-sided symmetry, says my friend Erica Crespi, a biologist at Washington State University who studies frogs and asks a lot of big questions about how animals develop.

Imagine if animals like frogs, birds, cats, or humans didn’t have their two-sided symmetry. Birds might have a hard time flying with one wing. Frogs might hop in circles » More …

15 CAS students earn leadership, engagement awards

LEAD award title slideFifteen undergraduate students plus two faculty and one staff member from across the College of Arts and Sciences were recognized during the 2018 Leadership and Engagement Awards of Distinction ceremony on April 17.

Award recipients demonstrate exceptional leadership and service to the university and the community and support the leadership development and engagement of WSU students. Recipients were selected through a nomination process » More …

17 CAS students honored with SURCA awards

Group of SURCA student award winnersFrom the health benefits of the Lucky Iron Fish to advances in detecting hydrogen polysufides to the cultural impact of a Brazilian composer’s work, 17 CAS students received top honors at the 2018 Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) competition in April. Hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research, SURCA features faculty-mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities by undergraduates from all majors, grades, and campuses.

“Each presentation evidences the new knowledge brought to one’s field and also reflects the personal and professional growth » More …

Analyzing fish skull development and evolutionary success

Jim Coopere holding a fish tankA biology researcher at WSU Tri-Cities aims to pinpoint underpinnings of evolutionary success by analyzing the skull morphology of a handful of fish species.

“One-third of living vertebrates belong to two fish lineages that independently evolved the ability to project their upper jaws forward from the face during feeding,” said Jim Cooper, assistant professor of biological sciences. “This jaw protrusion has been massively important to » More …