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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Interdisciplinary

The power of symbiosis

Stephanie Porter.“Understanding the complex and often positive role the microbiome plays in the health of plants and animals has precipitated a real renaissance in biology,” says microbiologist Stephanie Porter, who studies the evolution of cooperation and plant–microbe symbiosis. “There’s been a blossoming of ideas due to new genomic tools for understanding this microbiome—the set of all microbes that live in and on plants and animals.”

“But there’s also been a shift in our thinking about microbes. We’ve moved from microbes being viewed strictly as the cause of diseases or that they are at best harmless, to thinking they have » More …

More economic worries mean less caution about COVID‑19

Hands and hand sanitizer.Workers experiencing job and financial insecurity are less likely to follow the CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19, such as physical distancing, limiting trips from home and washing hands, according to a study led by WSU Vancouver psychology professor Tahira Probst.

“We all have a finite set of resources at our disposal, whether it’s money, time or social support, and individuals who have fewer of those resources appear » More …

WSU research behind potential Alzheimer’s drug

Leen Kawas and Joe Harding.It was 1991 and medicinal chemist Joe Harding was in his lab researching potential new options for relieving high blood pressure. Anomalies kept showing up in his lab tests, and if they meant what he thought they might, he and his research partner, WSU psychology professor John (Jay) Wright, were on the brink of a different breakthrough.

“I kept getting phone calls from Joe, and on each one he was more excited,” recalls Wright, who at the time was » More …

Examining risks, benefits of breastfeeding during COVID-19

Woman with infant. COVID-19 has brought with it new questions related to the benefits and/or potential risks of breastfeeding during this pandemic. Is the SARS-COV2 virus present in breast milk and could it be transmitted from mom to baby? Could antibodies found in breast milk actually help protect babies from the SARS-COV2 virus?

Researchers at WSU are leading a new nationwide study on COVID-19 and infant feeding to help answer these questions. Their work could ultimately help scientists better understand how COVID-19 affects the health and immune responses of mothers and » More …

WSU students named finalists in NFL data competition

If you’ve never watched American football, it can look like organized chaos. But for WSU graduate students Namrata Ray and Jugal Marfatia, looking at data snapshots of plays allowed them to find hidden data inside the chaos. That eventually lead the duo to a trip to the 2020 National Football League’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Ray, a doctoral student in sociology, and Marfatia, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in economics, entered the NFL’s 2020 Big Data Bowl competition to answer » More …

Innovative murals created for local elementary school

About 20 WSU students along with faculty project leaders and Kamiak Elementary principal Evan Hecker stand in front of 2 murals depicting the molecular vision of thermochromatic pigment.Imagine a large, outdoor painting that changes colors when warmed by the sun or by the touch of child’s hand and shifts hues again in cool rain and winter’s chill.

Two such temperature-sensitive paintings are among four vibrant murals created this fall at Kamiak Elementary School in Pullman through a unique collaboration between WSU artists and chemists. » More …

Interdisciplinary research to save amphibians worldwide

small frog sits on a person's fingerA diverse group of WSU scientists share a common, critial goal: to prevent the occurrence of a second fungal pandemic—an explosive threat looming just over the horizon.

Their collective efforts have put WSU in the national spotlight as an emerging center for amphibian research. » More …

Grizzlies show remarkable gene control before and during hibernation

Researchers conduct a cardiac ultrasound on a groggy bear during hybernation.Being a human couch potato can greatly increase fat accumulation, hasten the onset of Type II diabetes symptoms, result in detrimental blood chemistry and cardiovascular changes, and eventually, bring about one’s death.

Large hibernators such as bears however have evolved to adapt to and reverse similar metabolic stressors they face each year before and during hibernation to essentially become immune to these » More …

Amazon Catalyst grants advance projects with global impact

Two people sitting in front of a wall covered in sticky notes. One person wearing a VR headset sits next to another person pointing off screen.The Amazon Catalyst Program at WSU awarded nearly $20,000 to two teams comprised of research faculty and students from varied disciplines and locations.

Team Cross-Cultural Optics, led by Julie Kmec, professor of sociology, was awarded a grant to develop a virtual reality environment that enables female engineers based in the U.S. to explore engineering spaces » More …

Textbook learning issues, literally

Anne Marie GuerrettazA Spencer Foundation grant for $50,000 is funding research into textbooks for Spanish-language classes and how those may help or hinder student learners.

Anne Marie Guerrettaz, assistant professor of language, literacy, and technology in the College of Education, is the principal investigator, with co-PIs Nancy Bell from the Department of English, and Nausica Marcos Miguel from Denison University’s modern languages program.

“I have discovered over the past year that 90 percent of English-speaking American kids that study a foreign language » More …