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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 …

The matter of antimatter

Deep in the bowels of a large brick building on the WSU campus is a laboratory guarded by red flashing lights and warning signs. A tiny window in the door offers glimpses of stainless steel machinery while a low pulsating hum emanates through thick concrete walls.

Inside the W. M. Keck Antimatter Laboratory, a deuteron accelerator produces up to 120 billion positrons per second—about 10 trillion positrons per day, more than any other university or small laboratory in the nation.

Read the full story in Washington State Magazine >> 

Non-invasive prostate cancer diagnosing, monitoring

Technology being developed at Washington State University provides a non-invasive approach for diagnosing prostate cancer and tracking the disease’s progression.

The innovative filter-like device isolates prostate cancer indicators from other cellular information in blood and urine. It could enable doctors to determine how cancer patients are responding to different treatments without needing to perform invasive biopsies. » More …

Tree growth model assists breeding for more wood

Trees at edge of a lakeA meeting in a forest between a biologist and a mathematician could lead to thicker, faster growing trees.

“Mathematicians like translating biological processes into numbers,” said Andrei Smertenko, assistant professor in Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry. “I’m a biologist, and I want to help grow stronger, better trees.”

Breeding trees is a time-consuming and imprecise field, with breeders relying on a few genetic markers and what they can see. It takes years before they see the traits they’re looking for in a young tree. To help speed things up, » More …

WSU looks for practices to thwart antimicrobial resistance

The death last year of a woman in Reno, Nev., from an infection resistant to every type of antibiotic available in the U.S. highlights how serious the threat of antimicrobial resistance has become.

Washington State University scientists are addressing growing global concern about the spread of antimicrobial resistance in Africa, where the World Health Organization predicts that, by 2050, drug resistant tuberculosis and other bacteria could lead to the deaths of 4.15 million people each year. Their work identifying practices that lead to bacterial transmission could help save African lives and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria to the U.S. and other parts of the globe. » More …

WSU among top 10 innovative schools for foreign language study

WSU recently was recognized among colleges and universities nationwide for its pioneering approach to teaching foreign languages. TheBestColleges.org, a national reviewer of online education, lists WSU among the 10 Most Innovative Colleges for Foreign Language Study.

Read the full story at WSU News >> 

WSU research highlights deforestation threat to jaguars

PULLMAN, Wash. – Accelerating deforestation of jaguar habitat, especially in corridors connecting conservation areas, threatens the long-term survival of the iconic predator, according to new research by Dan Thornton, an assistant professor in the Washington State University School of the Environment.

He and colleague Peter Olsoy, a WSU environmental sciences doctoral student, suggest conservation groups and scientists focus efforts on working with local communities and elected officials to protect these vital forest corridors. » More …

Sperm changes documented years after chemotherapy

CAS logo on white with borderA Washington State University researcher has documented epigenetic changes in the sperm of men who underwent chemotherapy in their teens.

The changes can influence how genes are turned on an off, potentially affecting the health of tissues in subsequent generations, said Michael Skinner, a professor in the WSU School of Biological Sciences and Center for Reproductive Biology. He is suggesting that teens about to undergo chemotherapy have some of their sperm preserved for when they would like to start a family.

» More …

Chemists make major strides in organic semiconductors

figure from published paperWashington State University chemists have created new materials that pave the way for the development of inexpensive solar cells. Their work has been recognized as one of the most influential studies published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry in 2016.

Professors Ursula Mazur and K.W. Hipps, postdoctoral researcher Bhaskar Chilukuri and graduate students Morteza Adinehnia and Bryan Borders grew chain-like arrangements of organic nanostructures in the laboratory and then used mathematical models to determine which arrangements were the best conductors of light and electricity.

Journal editors recognized the WSU study as an important step in the advancement of organic semiconductors that perform on par with metal- and silicon-based electronics. They included the work in a collection of 2016’s most influential research publications, or “Hot Papers.”  » More …

Trump presidency focus of politics series in February

WSU campus in the snowDonald Trump’s presidency will be discussed by experts in U.S. politics during a series of free, public events at Washington State University Wednesday, Feb. 1, and Monday, Feb. 6. Topics will include America’s changing electoral landscape, conspiracy theories, the media and race politics.

The series is hosted by WSU’s nonpartisan Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, which focuses on bringing world-class speakers to public events, supporting student internships in public service and promoting scholarly research on public policy and political institutions. » More …

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