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College of Arts and Sciences Biological Sciences

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 …

Crimson Spirit Award – Elly Sweet

Elly Sweet standing in front of the Brelsford WSU Visitor Center.Recipient of the WSU Crimson Spirit Award for March 2018 is Elly Sweet, a clinical assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences at WSU Tri-Cities.

Honored for her exceptional mentoring and outstanding contributions to the WSU community, Sweet is the faculty academic advisor for all certified majors in biology, general studies in biological sciences, and pre-health programs at WSU Tri-Cities. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she advises more than » More …

NIH funding for Tasmanian devil cancer research

Image of a wild tasmanian devilWSU biologist Andrew Storfer’s work on cancer in Tasmanian devils is one of eight studies awarded funding recently by the National Institutes of Health/ National Science Foundation’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program. Storfer is the principle investigator of an international collaboration with researchers in Australia that received $2.3 million from the NIH to study the evolution of cancer transmission.

Using advanced genomic techniques, Storfer will look for key mutations that appear » More …

CAS leads top 20 WSU research stories of 2017

From rising inequality and declining Monarch butterfly populations to a particle with negative mass, news coverage about the College of Arts and Sciences research reached millions of people last year.

News outlets carrying the stories ran the gamut of the nation’s most popular media, including CNN, The Washington Post and National Public Radio, as well as specialty science publications like Science and all the region’s major news vehicles. » More …

2018 CAS faculty award recipients

CAS logo on white with borderEvery year, the College of Arts and Sciences recognizes faculty excellence in teaching, service, and career achievement. Congratulations to our 14 awardees for 2018: » More …

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