Research

Documentary film explores Richland, Washington’s complex heritage

In her award-winning documentary “Richland,” Irene Lusztig drew heavily upon the expertise of Robert Franklin, history professor at WSU Tri-Cities and assistant director and archivist for the Hanford History Project. The film, which investigates a community that created an identity, and future, on a type of “nuclear origin story,” opened at the Tribeca film festival in New York […]

A paper model of a bomb, someone putting on a radiation suit, and a statue of a young family.

Top research coverage of 2023

Whisky, contraception, cannabis: many of the Washington State University studies that garnered the most attention from news media in 2023 seemed to involve human pleasures—and their consequences. That focus may say something about the global mood in the first post-pandemic year, but it also speaks to the real-world impact of WSU’s research enterprise. Three initiatives […]

Whisky being poured into a glass with ice on a wooden table. Two other glasses are in the background.

WSU research addresses climate change on multiple fronts

Here’s a question with a thousand answers: How do we create a livable future amid climate change? Such a big challenge demands an equally expansive approach to solutions. At Washington State University, more than 60 departments are active in climate-related research, work that in many cases has been under way for decades. It’s a priority […]

A wheat field with wind turbines at sunset.

Guide on how to use climate data to inform human adaptation

A framework for combining climate and social data could help scientists better support climate change adaptation ahead of future weather-related disasters. The Washington State University-led research draws on the expertise of climate and social scientists to show how data on different characteristics of climate variability can be used to study the effectiveness of various human […]

Satellite image of a hurricane approaching North and South America.

Pacific Northwest snowpack endangered by increasing heatwaves

Even in the precipitation-heavy Pacific Northwest, more frequent heatwaves are threatening a key source of water supply. A Washington State University study that intended to look at snow melting under a single, extreme event, the 2021 “heat dome,” instead revealed an alarming, longer-term rising trend of successive heatwaves melting snowpack earlier in the year.   […]

Snow melting and a partially snow-covered mountaintop in the distance.

Exposure to soft robots decreases human fears about working with them

Seeing robots made with soft, flexible parts in action appears to lower people’s anxiety about working with them or even being replaced by them. A Washington State University study found that watching videos of a soft robot working with a person at picking and placing tasks lowered the viewers’ safety concerns and feelings of job […]

Two doctoral students demonstrate the use of a soft robot in their lab.

Aging societies more vulnerable to collapse

Societies and political structures, like the humans they serve, appear to become more fragile as they age, according to an analysis of hundreds of pre-modern societies. The study, which holds implications for the modern world, provides the first quantitative support for the theory that resilience of political states decreases over time. Triggers of societal collapse […]

A painting of a Roman style city being sacked.

McDowell recognized as a Highly Cited Researcher

Nathan McDowell, a PNNL researcher with a joint faculty appointment in the School of Biological Sciences, has been added to the list of the world’s most Highly Cited Researchers. He and six other WSU faculty recognized this year join five other WSU faculty previously recognized for studies most often cited in their fields. This recognition […]

Washington State University Cougars logo and Clarivate logo.

Cannabis users appear to be relying less on conventional sleep aids

Most people who reported using cannabis to get a good night’s rest in a recent study have quit using over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids all together. More than 80% of the 1,255 cannabis users surveyed for the Washington State University-led analysis reported no longer using over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids such as melatonin and benzodiazepines. […]

A woman lying in bed with hands on her face and a clock displaying 3:41 a.m.

Climate change expected to decrease window for controlled burns

Rising temperatures will cut the number of days when conditions favor prescribed fires by 17% on average across the western U.S., mostly in spring and summer, according to a recent study. Prescribed fires are typically lit by trained firefighters to clear away excess plant matter to help prevent conditions that might otherwise turn a healthy […]

A woman in a yellow shirt and hard hat holding a drip torch and lighting low level vegetation on fire.