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College of Arts and Sciences research

Big data on big animals

Work at the WSU Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center goes well beyond important things like enrichment programs and energy-monitoring collars. WSU scientists are looking at the genomic level to try and determine the myriad ways that bears adapt to their climate.

Joanna Kelley, an evolutionary geneticist and assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, said for the last two years, her lab has collected three different samples from six of the bears three times a year. Each sample has over 200 million pieces of data, giving them 10.8 billion pieces of data to wade through each » More …

Revealing how bacteria and grasses fix nitrogen

SwitchgrassReducing synthetic fertilizer use, pollution, farming costs, while freeing up nitrogen, mark possible benefits of a research project by Sarah Roley, assistant professor with the School of the Environment, Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Roley, and her two colleagues, recently landed a $483,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation, to pursue a more detailed understanding of how bacteria work with perennial grasses to fix nitrogen. » More …

Researcher named to Washington State Academy of Sciences

Professor in officeTimothy Kohler, Regents professor in anthropology, has been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences

He is an eminent archaeologist and evolutionary anthropologist specializing in quantitative analyses of prehistoric behavior set in climatically accurate paleoenvironments. He is well known for his work on cooperative behaviors, wealth inequalities and their consequences, and models of pre-Hispanic agricultural » More …

Physics research heads to International Space Station

Rocket on lauchpad in the distance, seen against setting sunWSU physicists have a new laboratory in outer space. On May 20, the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), a remotely operated research platform, blasted off for the International Space Station (ISS) where it will be used by researchers to probe quantum phenomena that would be impossible to observe on Earth.

Professor Peter Engels and graduate student Maren Mossman will use CAL remotely » More …

Hydrologist earns NSF CAREER award

NSF logo.Kevan Moffett, assistant professor of environmental hydrology at WSU Vancouver, has earned a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Program award from the National Science Foundation. Highly competitive, ‘CAREER’ awards emphasize the importance of developing academic careers in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and dissemination of new knowledge.

Moffett’s research explores how the urban water cycle interacts with the heat generated by urban areas. Most hydrological research takes place » More …

Psychology adds human touch to technology

Image of shelves in a smart homeProfessor Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe is one of three interdisciplinary researchers examining the potential of applying human judgment to smart-home data to detect behavioral patterns. The project brings together WSU colleagues in psychology, computer science, and nursing, and seeks to determine whether applied technology can help people stay in their homes longer.

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Analyzing fish skull development and evolutionary success

Jim Coopere holding a fish tankA biology researcher at WSU Tri-Cities aims to pinpoint underpinnings of evolutionary success by analyzing the skull morphology of a handful of fish species.

“One-third of living vertebrates belong to two fish lineages that independently evolved the ability to project their upper jaws forward from the face during feeding,” said Jim Cooper, assistant professor of biological sciences. “This jaw protrusion has been massively important to » More …

NIH funding for Tasmanian devil cancer research

Image of a wild tasmanian devilWSU biologist Andrew Storfer’s work on cancer in Tasmanian devils is one of eight studies awarded funding recently by the National Institutes of Health/ National Science Foundation’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program. Storfer is the principle investigator of an international collaboration with researchers in Australia that received $2.3 million from the NIH to study the evolution of cancer transmission.

Using advanced genomic techniques, Storfer will look for key mutations that appear » More …

Researcher encounters rare, elusive beaked whales off coast of Ireland

Rare sighting off the coast of Ireland of elusive beaked whale. (photo by Ashley Bennison)A researcher at WSU Vancouver encountered rare and elusive beaked whales while on a research vessel west of Ireland last month.

Enrico Pirotta, a post doc in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was on the last days of a six-day cruise when the crew had several sightings. The first sightings were too far away for positive identifications, but on the final day the crew saw four separate groups of breaching whales, according to an online log of the Ireland-based Marine Institute in Galway. » More …

WSU joins National Nuclear Security Administration Center of Excellence

National Nuclear Security AdministrationPULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University is part of a new $12.5 million National Nuclear Security Administration Actinide Center of Excellence devoted to research in actinide and nuclear chemistry.

Based at the University of Notre Dame, the Actinide Center of Excellence (ACE) is tasked with research that is important for stockpile stewardship — the certification that the nation’s nuclear weapons are secure and operational. » More …