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College of Arts and Sciences Biological Sciences

Biology graduate earns internship at PNNL, working to combat cancer

Vincent Danna (’17) was in middle school when he lost all of his hair.

He suffers from a condition known as alopecia universalis, which is when the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. His personal struggle led him to want to become a dermatologist and help those who experience serious skin diseases and other ailments.

“It sounds silly,” he said, “but my experience really spiked my interest in wanting to help other people through medicine.” » More …

Biology student selected for national pre-health workshop

Smiling student in building lobbyAs a result of resources and mentorship she received at Washington State University Tri-Cities student Catalina Yepez not only began the initial steps of realizing her future dream of becoming an eye doctor. The opportunities also led her to be selected for an opportunity open to only 30 students nationwide.

Yepez was selected to participate in a week-long workshop that prepares students for medical school and careers in optometry at the University of California, Berkeley, this summer.  » More …

Patrick Carter named director of School of Biological Sciences

CarterPatrick Carter, an expert in evolutionary physiology, has been named director of the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University.

A WSU faculty member since 1996, Carter began serving as interim director for SBS in June and officially began his tenure as director on Oct. 1. » More …

Researchers see popular herbicide affecting health across generations

Supp. Fig. 1 partial, map of US usageFirst, the good news. Washington State University researchers have found that a rat exposed to a popular herbicide while in the womb developed no diseases and showed no apparent health effects aside from lower weight.

Now, the weird news. The grand-offspring of that rat did have more disease, as did a great-grand offspring third generation.

“The third generation had multiple diseases and much more frequently than the third generation of unexposed rats,” said Michael Skinner, a Washington State University professor of biological sciences. At work, says Skinner, are epigenetic inheritance changes that turn genes on and off, often because of environmental influences. » More …

CAS students receive Carson, Auvil undergraduate research awards

portion of the cover of printed programA total of 10 College of Arts and Sciences students received two types of awards from the WSU Office of Undergraduate Research.

Recipients of the Carson and Auvil awards will work with faculty mentors throughout the 2017-18 academic year on research, scholarly and creative projects that advance or create new knowledge in a specific field. » More …

Monarch butterflies disappearing from western North America

butterflies on a pine branchMonarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction than eastern monarchs, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation.

“Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts,” said Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver and lead author of the study. “In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000.” » More …

Surgery, trauma expert Don Trunkey receives Alumni Achievement Award

Alumnus receiving awardDon Trunkey (’59), a professor emeritus of surgery at the Oregon Health Science University, received the WSU Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of his influential career and contributions to medical education, surgical methods and trauma care. » More …

Health of amphibians in oil sand fields area assessed

wood frog on hand from "nature north"The impact of pollutants from the world’s largest oil sand field on the health of amphibians marks the focus of a team of research biologists from Washington State University and Canada.

The scientists are studying the effects of development in the Athabasca oil sands region of Northern Alberta on the habitat, physiology, behavior and long-term health of wood frogs. » More …

Plant inner workings point way to more nutritious crops

plant interior animation still imageAlmost every calorie that we eat at one time went through the veins of a plant. If a plant’s circulatory system could be rejiggered to make more nutrients available – through bigger seeds or sweeter tomatoes – the world’s farmers could feed more people.

Washington State University researchers have taken a major step in that direction by unveiling the way a plant’s nutrients get from the leaves, where they are produced through photosynthesis, to “sinks” that can include the fruits and seeds we eat and the branches we process for biofuels. The researchers found a unique and critical structure where the nutrients are offloaded, giving science a new focal point in efforts to improve plant efficiency and productivity. » More …