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College of Arts and Sciences Environment

Understanding the role of water around the planet

woman seated on rockOn the southern slope of Mount Adams in Washington, Kevan Moffett and her students are working to learn how soils recover moisture following wildfires so that trees and plants can sprout again. The field area has suffered three fires in the last 14 years—the McDonald Ridge fire of 2004, the Cold Springs fire of 2008 and the Cougar Creek burn of 2015.

“With three fires in overlapping areas, we can study field sites that have overlapping fires or just one,” said Moffett, an assistant professor of environmental hydrology at WSU Vancouver. “That’s the whole point of this project: these repeated fires are becoming » More …

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 …

Revealing how bacteria and grasses fix nitrogen

SwitchgrassReducing synthetic fertilizer use, pollution, farming costs, while freeing up nitrogen, mark possible benefits of a research project by Sarah Roley, assistant professor with the School of the Environment, Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Roley, and her two colleagues, recently landed a $483,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation, to pursue a more detailed understanding of how bacteria work with perennial grasses to fix nitrogen. » More …

Mysteries from the moon’s past

The MoonWhile the moon is uninhabitable today, there could have been life on its surface in the distant past.

In fact, there may have been two early windows of habitability for Earth’s moon, according to a study online in the journal Astrobiology by Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University astrobiologist. » 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 …

Researchers estimate magma under supervolcano

Washington State University researchers "spike" a Yellowstone hot spring with deuterium, a stable isotope, to calculate water and heat flowing out of the springs and estimate how fast magma is recharging beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano. The material had no environmental impact and was done with a permit from the National Park ServiceWSU geologists have found a new way to estimate how fast magma is recharging beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano.

Scientists now have a better understanding of a key factor of what’s underneath the massive caldera: a pool of basalt magma continually recharging the system.

“It is the coal in the furnace that’s » More …

Hydrologist earns NSF CAREER award

NSF logo.Kevan Moffett, assistant professor of environmental hydrology at WSU Vancouver, has earned a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Program award from the National Science Foundation. Highly competitive, ‘CAREER’ awards emphasize the importance of developing academic careers in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and dissemination of new knowledge.

Moffett’s research explores how the urban water cycle interacts with the heat generated by urban areas. Most hydrological research takes place » 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 …

Coho salmon die, chum salmon survive in stormwater runoff

Coho SalmonWSU scientists have discovered that different species of salmon have varying reactions to polluted stormwater runoff.

In a recent paper published in the journal Environmental Pollution, scientists found that coho salmon became sick and nearly died, within just a few hours of exposure to polluted stormwater. But chum salmon showed no signs of ill-effects after prolonged exposure to the same water.

“It really surprised us,” said Jen McIntyre, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of the Environment. “Not that the coho were » More …

Director named for Meyer’s Point Environmental Field Station

Steve BollensStephen Bollens, professor of aquatic ecology at WSU Vancouver, has been named director of the newly designated Meyer’s Point Environmental Field Station.

Located just north of Olympia in a rapidly urbanizing area, Meyer’s Point is a 95-acre parcel of undeveloped land with 2,100 feet of Puget Sound shoreline and extensive terrestrial, wetland and aquatic habitats. The property was bequeathed to WSU in 1990 by Edward R. Meyer to be used to promote environmental education, research and the arts. » More …