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College of Arts and Sciences research

Dr. Universe: What’s the best story ever made?

Dr. Universe: a cat in a lab coatHumans have been telling stories for thousands of years. At first, they told these stories out loud, then they started to write.

There are more than a hundred million published books on our planet now and to find out which one is best, I visited my friend Matthew Jockers. He’s a professor at Washington State University who combines his love of stories with computer science to research what makes some books bestsellers. » More …

In search of microplastics in food

portrait outsideWhile shocking images of giant gyres of plastic trash in the world’s oceans cause widespread alarm, a more insidious threat to ecological and human health may be the nearly invisible microplastics in local waters, said environmental science professor Alex Fremier.

Supported by a Fulbright Global Scholar Award, Fremier will spend four months in Belém, Brazil, collecting water, fish and sediment samples in the Lower Amazon River Basin with the aim » More …

A better sense of health monitoring

Illustration from scientific paper

With at least 30 million Americans currently diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 84 million more at risk of developing the disease, the need for simpler treatments is urgent. WSU researchers are working to take the sting out of daily management with sophisticated new technologies and personalized medicine.

“One of the difficulties of diabetes is that it can feel overwhelming to have to take pills, check blood sugar, and poke your finger several times a day” says Joshua Neumiller (’03 Phys. Sci., ’05 DPH Pharm.), WSU’s Allen I. White Distinguished » More …

New faculty seed grants kick-start research, creativity

Office of ResearchSpanning  biosynthetic pharmaceuticals, intermedia art, and wildfires, three College of Arts and Sciences faculty have been awarded New Faculty Seed Grants (NFSG) to encourage the development of their research, scholarly, and creative programs.

The grants support projects that will significantly contribute to the researcher’s long range goals by kick-starting a more complex project or idea. The seed funding to junior faculty helps build » More …

Senior’s antibiotic resistance review earns Library Research Award

Miles RobertsHeadlines warning of the dangers of antibiotic resistance appear in the news almost every day. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, 10 million people could die each year from diseases that have become resistant to drugs.

Biology major Miles Roberts wanted to know how science is working to counter this trend. So, for his “Microbes in Nature and Society” class (Biology 402), he reviewed 65 scientific articles and turned his research into a paper called “Maximizing Costs to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance Evolution.” His thorough investigation resulted in » More …

$1.4M DoD grant supports new eDNA techniques

Caren Goldberg near an Idaho pond.Freshly drawn from an Idaho pond, the half-liter of water running through Caren Goldberg’s funnel-shaped filter carries trace cells and tiny fragments bearing DNA—genetic code from native frogs and salamanders.

Those few strands of code say a lot to Goldberg, a WSU scientist who studies environmental DNA, or eDNA—genetic material sampled from soil or water rather than directly from an organism. The samples not only identify the animals who live in this pond, they hold the potential to » More …

Statistician to aid international whale conservation research

Gray WhaleLeslie New, a WSU Vancouver assistant professor of statistics who specializes in the impacts of humans on wildlife, has been named to a scientific panel studying endangered whales found off the coast of Russia’s Sakhalin Island.

New will spend three years on the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel, an independent scientific advisory body to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. She and her fellow panelists will look for ways to assess and manage the impacts of the region’s oil, gas and fishing industries, evaluate ways to monitor » More …

Study shows generational toxicology of popular weed killer

molecular structureIn the first study of its kind, WSU researchers found a variety of diseases and other health problems in the second- and third-generation offspring of rats exposed to glyphosate, the world’s most popular weed killer. The researchers saw descendants of exposed rats developing prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, obesity and birth abnormalities.

Michael Skinner, professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues call this phenomenon “generational toxicology” and they’ve seen it over the years in fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, the plastics compound bisphenol A, the insect repellant DEET and » More …

Scientists seek causes, better predictions for South Asia’s changing monsoon

Deepti Singh, assistant professor in the School of the Environment, is trying to understand how and why the South Asian summer monsoon is changing.

Weather patterns in the region are becoming harder to predict, with rain falling in unusual amounts and locations, putting billions of lives and livelihoods at risk.

Working with colleagues in the U.S. and India, Singh has authored a new review exploring » More …

Undergraduates’ data analysis, proposals could help reduce impaired driving

highway road and driver seen from back seat of carWhen Savanna Obernberger, a junior studying criminal justice, learned that drunk and drug-impaired drivers in the state kill nearly 200 people a year, she wanted to help solve the problem but didn’t know where to start.

A few months later, Obernberger and four classmates presented to the state Traffic Safety Commission a set of four innovative ways to tackle the problem of impaired driving. Their proposed solutions ranged from insurance cost incentives for safe driving to a smart phone app that helps » More …