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College of Arts and Sciences Environment

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 …

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 …

eDNA: An early warning system for deadly pathogen

A mountain yellow-legged frog. Photo credit: Michael Hernandez A new technology being developed at Washington State University could help save amphibians around the world from deadly pathogens like Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a particularly nasty type of fungus that attacks the skin of frogs and salamanders.

The new tool, know as environmental DNA, or eDNA, detects telltale bits of genetic material that living creatures shed into their environment, and enables wildlife scientists to confirm the presence of a wide variety of aquatic organisms without the hassle of finding them. » More …

Life always finds a way

Dirk Schulze-Makuch and team in the Atacama Desert

For the first time, researchers have seen life rebounding in the world’s driest desert, demonstrating that it could also be lurking in the soils of Mars.

Led by Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an international team studied the driest corner of South America’s Atacama Desert, where decades pass without any rain. Scientists have long wondered whether microbes in the soil of this hyperarid environment, the most similar place on Earth to the Martian surface, » More …

To catch a cat

TTravis King travels through a Costa Rican swamp at Tortuguero National Park in 2014, with a team from Panthera and local guides.rekking through one of the largest unexplored rainforests in the world, La Mosquitia in Honduras, Travis King set up traps last spring to catch jaguars—or whatever other animal came into range of the cameras.

King, a WSU environmental science graduate student, was one of 12 biologists conducting the first biological survey of the area known as La Ciudad Blanca or the Lost City of the Monkey God, astounding ruins first identified in 2012.

It was already familiar work for King, who has used remote-sensing camera traps and other methods to identify the behavior and distribution of elusive big cats from Costa Rica, Honduras, and Belize all the way to central Washington. » More …

Campus involvement empowers first-generation, non-traditional student to soar

WSU graduate in his cap and gown getting photo takenWSU Tri-Cities alumnus Geoff Schramm never thought he would go to college.

Coming from a family where no one before him in his family had gone to college, he said it was sort of a family tradition that he goes straight into the workforce after high school.

“That’s just what you did in my family,” he said. “I didn’t have a blueprint for college or someone that could tell me about the experience. In some odd way, I felt it wasn’t for me when I was young.” » More …

Huge carbon sink exists in soil minerals

artists depiction of carbon in soilA Washington State University researcher has discovered that vast amounts of carbon can be stored by soil minerals more than a foot below the surface. The finding could help offset the rising greenhouse-gas emissions helping warm the Earth’s climate.

Marc Kramer, an assistant professor of environmental chemistry at WSU Vancouver, reports his finding in one of two related papers demonstrating how the right management practices can help trap much of the carbon dioxide that is rapidly warming the planet. » More …