Skip to main content Skip to navigation
College of Arts and Sciences Biological Sciences

Doctoral students pack years of research into three minutes

Three minute thesis contestants with Dean Jockers.Why people cannot regenerate lost appendages the way some frogs and other animals do is the question at the heart of Robyn Reeve’s doctoral research in biological sciences. Explaining her work clearly in a mere three minutes won her both first place and the “People’s Choice” award in the College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) recent qualifying event for WSU’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Contest of 2020.

For her presentation, “Leptin: integrator of immune response and regeneration,” Reeve will » More …

2019 news recap: CAS research made headlines worldwide

CAS logo on white with borderFrom Instagram selfies to an ancient tattoo tool, research from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) made headlines around the world in 2019. The University distributed press releases for more than 65 scientific papers last year, including many from CAS faculty and scientists. Together, the findings were seen potentially billions of times by readers and viewers worldwide, elevating WSU’s profile as a premier public research university.

Four CAS stories graced the top 10, and eight more rounded out the top 50 stories. » 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 …

Dr. Universe: Why won’t sea turtles lay eggs in the ocean?

Dr. UniverseSea turtles spend almost their entire lives in the ocean. Even as babies, sea turtles’ bodies have special traits for living at sea, helping them glide and paddle through the water. After emerging from their eggs, baby sea turtles (called “hatchlings”) scramble to the ocean to live the rest of their lives. Only female sea turtles return to land as adults, to lay eggs and begin the cycle again.

I talked with my friend Frank Paladino to learn more about sea turtles. He completed his Ph.D. at » More …

Microscopic partners could help plants survive stressful environments

fungi slider.Tiny, symbiotic fungi play an outsized role in helping plants survive stresses like drought and extreme temperatures, which could help feed a planet experiencing climate change, report WSU scientists.

Recently published in the journal Functional Ecology, the discovery by plant-microbe biologist Stephanie Porter and plant pathologist Maren Friesen sheds light on » More …

Seeding big-picture, interdisciplinary research

A detail of a classic Mayan polychrome vessel depicting a deer hunt.With support from Interdisciplinary Research and Innovation Seed (IRIS) grants, CAS faculty and graduate students in diverse areas are combining forces with colleagues across the university to tackle critical questions by integrating knowledge in a wide array of fields—criminology, biology, English, medicine, archaeology, nursing, and more.

“The IRIS grant program supports faculty efforts to build collaborative relationships and advance our interdisciplinary creative activities, scholarship, and » More …

Former Cougar Crew members share life lessons

1973 WSU Cougar Crew on a dock.Out here, among the rolling hills of the Palouse, generations of rowers have pulled hard. They’ve learned life lessons on the Snake River, where conditions can change instantaneously and team work is essential. They’ve forged lifelong friendships. They’ve made memories.

As the Cougar Crew prepares to celebrate the team’s 50th anniversay, a few former WSU oarsmen, including three CAS alumni, shared their stories with » More …

International call to halt massive insect decline

Monarch butterfly.From bees to butterflies, ants to wasps, insect populations of all kinds are at risk, according to a growing scientific consensus. Their decline also threatens the many ecosystem services that depend on them, including food production.

“It’s clear that we’re experiencing massive insect declines both in species and in abundance,” said WSU Vancouver conservation biologist Cheryl Schultz. “We are becoming increasingly aware that species that were once common across the landscape are now rare.”

To avert this potential disaster, Schultz recently joined more than 70 scientists from 21 countries in » More …

Funding boost to develop rice for the future

Rice fields.WSU is part of an international effort involving seven institutions to revolutionize rice production. Led by co-principal investigator Asaph Cousins, a professor in WSU’s School of Biological Sciences, and colleagues at University of Oxford, the “C4 Rice Project” recently earned a five‑year, $15 million grant renewal from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project aims to develop rice strains that are not only more productive but also more resilient. The long‑term effort, which was first conceived in » More …