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College of Arts and Sciences Faculty

In a pandemic, why do people seek to help others?

Craig Parks.Heartwarming examples of people across the country stepping up to help others in the face of a deadly disease raise the question of why people share resources and risk their own health and safety to help strangers. Craig Parks, professor of social psychology and WSU vice provost, provided insights about such “prosocial” behavior in a recent article by Galadriel Watson in The Washington Post.

“‘Prosocial’ means that when you have a choice between acting in your personal best interests or acting in the » More …

Dr. Universe: How do earthquakes happen?

Dr. UniverseWe’ve had a lot of earthquakes on our planet this year. Maybe you’ve learned about them from the news or felt one shaking up your own neighborhood. Earthquakes can happen in a few different ways.

First, it is important to know a bit about the Earth’s outer layer, or crust. The crust is made of seven big pieces called “plates.” They are about 60 miles thick and sort of float on the molten rock beneath them. That’s what I found out from my friend Sean Long, a WSU geology professor who knows a lot about earthquakes. » More …

Researching potential negative effects of cannabis

Medicinal Marijuana.Coughing fits, anxiety and paranoia are three of the most common adverse reactions to cannabis, according to a recent study by the WSU Health and Cognition Laboratory.

Researchers surveyed more than 1,500 college students on the type and frequency of adverse reactions they had experienced while using cannabis for their study in the Journal of Cannabis Research. They also collected information on the students’ demographics, personality traits, cannabis use patterns » More …

Mothering a Book: Recollections of a WSU Author

Melanie Angela Neuilly and daughter. In her 2019 edited book “Mothering From the Field: The Impact of Motherhood on Site-Based Research,” WSU criminal justice associate professor Melanie-Angela Neuilly collected the experiences of academic researchers and mothers conducting their fieldwork while raising children. Neuilly’s own experience of juggling site work and motherhood in Nice, France, in 2014 is also chronicled.

Neuilly said she came to the book somewhat circuitously: In 2013, she obtained a WSU Seed Grant to conduct ethnographic field observations at » More …

Where you live may influence your baby’s behavior

Babies lying down.Infants from rural families tend to display negative emotions such as anger and frustration more frequently than their urban counterparts, according to a recent study in the Journal of Community Psychology.

Babies born in big cities, on the other hand, typically are less fussy and not as bothered by limits set by their caregivers.

The study, led by WSU psychologist Maria Gartstein and » More …

Dr. Universe: How was popcorn discovered?

Dr. UniverseThere’s nothing quite like making popcorn: the snapping kernels, the warm buttery smell, and the knowledge that a delicious snack will be ready in minutes. It gives you some good time to think and wonder: how did humans first start doing this?

To find out where popcorn came from, I visited my friend Erin Thornton, an archaeologist at WSU. Archaeologists study how humans lived in the past—including the things they ate. To learn the story of popcorn, we have to trace the history of maize. » More …

Organic molecules on Mars consistent with early life

Surface of Mars.Thiophenes, organic compounds found on Earth in coal, crude oil, and white truffles, were recently discovered on Mars, and astrobiologists  think their presence would be consistent with the presence of early life on Mars.

Dirk Schulze‑Makuch, WSU adjunct professor in the School of the » 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 …

Dynamic art project gives students fitting, real-world experience

Wall art made with wooden cogs. Title reads, "Discovery".Like the gears in a finely tuned machine, donor contributions keep many non-profits – including the Palouse Discovery Science Center – running smoothly. So when digital media students at WSU were asked to visually represent donor support for the PDSC, the idea of interconnected gears quickly emerged and became, quite literally, the perfect fit.

Seventeen undergraduates in Reza Safavi’s introductory Digital Design and Fabrication course last spring worked individually and as a team to create a 7-by-7-foot interactive art installation composed of 22 precision-cut » 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 …