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College of Arts and Sciences Faculty

Holy smokes

smoke in the air over mountainsFor thousands of years, coyote and other types of wild tobacco have provided what many consider a versatile healing remedy and meditative, spiritual channel to the Creator. Much of the botanical lore was muddled, however, with the arrival of Europeans and subsequent cultural upheaval.

WSU researchers Shannon Tushingham and David Gang ’99 PhD are using a combination of archeology and high-end molecular chemistry to help identify and restore wild tobacco and other indigenous smoke plants used by Northwest Native groups.

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WSU leading implementation of online K-12 truancy prevention program

WARNS logoWashington State University is leading the online implementation of a program aimed at reducing school truancy that could positively impact schools across the state, and possibly the nation.

Paul Strand, WSU Tri-Cities professor of psychology; Nick Lovrich, WSU Regents professor emeritus; Brian French, professor and director of WSU’s Learning and Performance Research Center and Psychometric Laboratory; and Bruce Austin, research associate in educational psychology and the LPRC, evaluated and refined the Washington Assessment of the Risks and Needs of Students program. WARNS uses data-driven procedures to track and improve interventions with students. » More …

New device could turn heat into a viable energy source

A new device being developed by Washington State University physicist Yi Gu could one day turn the heat generated by a wide array of electronics into a usable energy source.

A multi-component, multi-layered composite material called a van der Waals Schottky diode, the WSU device converts heat into electricity up to three times more efficiently than silicon, a semiconductor material widely used in the electronics industry. While still in an early stage of development, the new diode could eventually provide an extra source of power for everything from smartphones to automobiles. » More …

Prehistoric turkey DNA used to track human migration

In the mid-to-late 1200s, some 30,000 ancestral pueblo farmers left their homes in southwestern Colorado’s Mesa Verde region and never returned.

Where these people went and why they left are two of American archeology’s longest-standing mysteries. » More …

CAS hosts solar eclipse viewing parties

crecent sun through solar glasses Mother Nature provided a special treat for the first day of classes at Washington State University this year: a total solar eclipse across all of the United States. Although the path of totality ran from the Oregon coast all the way through South Carolina, the Vancouver, Tri-Cities, and Pullman campus each experienced more than 93% of the surface of the sun being blocked by the moon. The College of Arts and Sciences hosted a viewing party on the Holland Library lawn and at the Jewett Observatory to help students and the WSU community enjoy and learn about the celestial phenomenon.  Solar glasses were the most popular way to look at the sun–and the only way to do so safely.

At Holland Library, volunteers from the Department of Physics, along with the CAS Student Ambassadors, showed students and community members how to use » More …

Aurora Clark named ACS Fellow

Aurora ClarkAurora Clark, a WSU professor of chemistry, has been named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society.

Clark received the prestigious award for her service to the nuclear/inorganic and computational chemistry communities and for her innovative research, including the pioneering use of computer algorithms and network analysis to understand the behavior of complex solutions and their interfaces. » More …

WSU scientists help detect gravitational waves for third time

LIGO Hanford from the airThree billion years ago in a distant galaxy, two massive black holes slammed together, merged into one and sent space–time vibrations, known as gravitational waves, shooting out into the universe.

The waves passed through Earth and were detected early this year by an international team of scientists, including WSU physicists Sukanta Bose, Bernard Hall and Nairwita Mazumder.

The newfound black hole, first reported in the journal Physical Review Letters in June, has a mass about 49 times that of the sun. The collision that produced it released more power in an instant than is radiated by all the stars and galaxies in the universe at any moment.  » More …

Off the beaten path

monarch butterfly on yellow plant“The monarchs were a big surprise for me,” says Rod Sayler. “It’s the first time I’ve seen them at WSU except for fly-bys. I thought, ‘Wow, it finally happened!’”

Sayler, an unabashed naturalist known for his signature straw hat, is project director for the WSU arboretum and an associate professor in the School of the Environment. In an age of climate specialists and policy wonks, Sayler revels in the down-to-earth study of nature in all its intricate bounty.

For the last nine years, he and his colleagues have painstakingly transformed a wedge of farmland into a botanical garden alive with wildflowers, native bees, meadowlarks, amphibians, rabbits, deer, and more. It’s a campus dream over a century in the making, says Sayler, one that finally came to fruition in 2008.

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WSU-led cultural preservation initiative wins exemplary service award

The Society of American Archivists conferred its Council Exemplary Service Award to the Sustainable Heritage Network, a WSU-led project for digital preservation of cultural heritage managed by the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation.

Read more at WSU News >>