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College of Arts and Sciences Anthropology

Sniffing out patterns

Jaime Chambers.Dogs and humans have been inseparable for many millennia. Dogs eat, sleep, play, and work with us in relationships so intimate that we call them people, family members, and, as novelist Spencer Quinn puts it, members of “a nation within a nation.” Or so it would seem to your typical American dog owner.

In fact, says WSU anthropology graduate student Jaime Chambers, “the ways we interact with dogs are extremely varied” once you start looking at the relationship across cultures. » More …

Enhancing research, creative activity in arts and humanities

title textEleven of WSUs most innovative scholars and artists have been selected for faculty fellowships and mini-grants from the Center for Arts and Humanities (CAH) and the Office of Research.

Representing seven academic units and totaling nearly $78,000 in direct support, the funded projects include the creation of new international musical collaborations, investigations of interracial marriage in the historical American West, sustaining arts-based » More …

Non-tobacco plant identified in ancient pipe for first time

Ancient smoking pipes.People in what is now Washington state were smoking Rhus glabra, a plant commonly known as smooth sumac, more than 1,400 years ago. The discovery, made by a team of WSU researchers, marks the first-time scientists have identified residue from a non-tobacco plant in an archeological pipe.

“The research casts doubt on the commonly held view that trade tobacco grown by Europeans overtook the use of natively-grown smoke plants after Euro-American contact,” said Shannon Tushingham, assistant professor of anthropology. » More …

Writing, currency fueled ancient society growth

The Parthenon.When it comes to the great civilizations of human history, the pen really might have been mightier than the sword.

“There’s a fundamental relationship that exists between the way in which societies process information and how large they are able to become,” said Tim Kohler, WSU an archaeologist and a corresponding author of an international study that shows the ability to store and process information was as critical to the growth of early human societies as it is today. “Early innovations in information processing such as writing and coinage » More …

Global instructor honored for teaching excellence

Jack McNassar.Anthropology instructor Jack McNassar is the recipient of this year’s Excellence in Online Teaching Award. The student-nominated honor, now in its fourth year, acknowledges WSU Global Campus faculty members who engage, inspire, support, and show care for their students.

“Professor McNassar continually inspired me and the other students in » More …

Interdisciplinary research on COVID-19 impact

Mother holding sleeping baby.Fifteen faculty and graduate student researchers from multiple colleges and campuses across the University recently joined forces to form the WSU COVID‑19 Infant, Maternal, and Family Health Research Collaborative.

Spanning a variety of disciplines, including biological sciences, anthropology, and psychology, the collective already has a half dozen studies lined up to address critical questions related to the impact of COVID‑19 on the health of mothers, babies, and families. » More …

Research opens a new approach to mental illness

Silhouette of someone on a bench with hands held to head.Some of the most common mental disorders, including depression, anxiety and PTSD, might not be disorders at all, according to a recent paper by WSU biological anthropologists.

The researchers propose a new approach to mental illness that would be informed by human evolution, noting that modern psychology, and in particular its use of drugs like antidepressants, has largely failed to reduce the prevalence of mental disorders. For example, the global prevalence of » More …

Too hot for habitation: archeology and climate change

The Sahara Desert.Areas of the planet home to one-third of humans will become as hot as the hottest parts of the Sahara within 50 years, unless greenhouse gas emissions fall, according to research by scientists from China, United States (at WSU) and Europe The rapid heating would mean that 3.5 billion people would live outside the climate ‘niche’ in which humans have thrived for 6,000 years. » More …

New degree in human biology

A man and child with a bicycle in an open grassy field.Responding to the global need for more skilled professionals in health, social and environmental sciences, and public policy, the College of Arts and Sciences will launch an interdisciplinary degree in human biology this fall.

The new degree is designed for rigorous study in the natural and social sciences, and will be unique in Washington state and virtually the entire Pacific » More …

Where you live may influence your baby’s behavior

Babies lying down.Infants from rural families tend to display negative emotions such as anger and frustration more frequently than their urban counterparts, according to a recent study in the Journal of Community Psychology.

Babies born in big cities, on the other hand, typically are less fussy and not as bothered by limits set by their caregivers.

The study, led by WSU psychologist Maria Gartstein and » More …