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College of Arts and Sciences Biological Sciences

Former Cougar Crew members share life lessons

1973 WSU Cougar Crew on a dock.Out here, among the rolling hills of the Palouse, generations of rowers have pulled hard. They’ve learned life lessons on the Snake River, where conditions can change instantaneously and team work is essential. They’ve forged lifelong friendships. They’ve made memories.

As the Cougar Crew prepares to celebrate the team’s 50th anniversay, a few former WSU oarsmen, including three CAS alumni, shared their stories with » More …

International call to halt massive insect decline

Monarch butterfly.From bees to butterflies, ants to wasps, insect populations of all kinds are at risk, according to a growing scientific consensus. Their decline also threatens the many ecosystem services that depend on them, including food production.

“It’s clear that we’re experiencing massive insect declines both in species and in abundance,” said WSU Vancouver conservation biologist Cheryl Schultz. “We are becoming increasingly aware that species that were once common across the landscape are now rare.”

To avert this potential disaster, Schultz recently joined more than 70 scientists from 21 countries in » More …

A funding boost to develop rice for the future

Rice fields.WSU is part of an international effort involving seven institutions to revolutionize rice production. Led by co-principal investigator Asaph Cousins, a professor in WSU’s School of Biological Sciences, and colleagues at University of Oxford, the “C4 Rice Project” recently earned a five‑year, $15 million grant renewal from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project aims to develop rice strains that are not only more productive but also more resilient. The long‑term effort, which was first conceived in the 1990s, earned its first Gates Foundation grant in 2008 and is now entering its fourth phase. » More …

Veterans preserve history

five people in a room full of archive boxesThe cool, high-ceiling basement room in College Hall is furnished in Spartan fashion. On this summer day it’s library quiet, but not by tradition or rule. It’s the natural product of deep concentration, as the lab’s three curation technicians, all student veterans, work their way through a collection of ancient artifacts.

At a cluster of mismatched tables in the center of the room, senior Chris Sison carefully examines a tray of artifacts, occasionally consulting a set of printed cards or making a note in » More …

Biology professor honored as WSU Tri-Cities Woman of Distinction

Tanya Cheeke, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, was one of three individuals recently honored for their notable contributions to the campus and community through service, teaching and/or involvement.

In addition to teaching and research, Tanya works extensively to mentor students in the biological sciences program. She regularly works with undergraduate and graduate students in her lab throughout the school year and mentors students selected for » More …

Biomarkers could help diagnose male infertility

Michael Skinner in his laboratory at WSU.It can take a year or longer of trial and error for a doctor to determine if a man is infertile but new research by Michael Skinner, a WSU reproductive biologist, could change that.

Skinner and an international team of collaborators discovered infertile men have identifiable patterns of epigenetic molecules or biomarkers attached to their sperm DNA that aren’t present in fertile men. » More …

Summer scholars connect research to the real world

Student Jeannette Lilly (center) works with graduate student Erica Bakker (left) and Sarah Roley, assistant professor of environmental science, in an environmental science lab as part of her Chancellor’s Summer Scholars experience.This past summer, ten WSU Tri-Cities undergraduate students in the Chancellor’s Summer Scholar Program got to experience first-hand how top-tier university research can impact their local community.

“Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree get the opportunity to be a part of intensive research that could positively influence the Tri-Cities community,” said Kate McAteer, WSUTC vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Ranging from engineering, to the arts, to the sciences, there are a variety » 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 …

Dr. Universe: Why do leaves change colors?

Cartoon cat in a lab coat, Dr. Universe, studies plants under a microscope.Ever since I was a kitten, I’ve loved picking up big maple leaves in the fall. I’d take them home, put them under a piece of paper, and rub the side of a crayon over the top. It makes a great print of the leaf.

Leaves actually get their color from things called pigments. While scientists can use chemicals to make different crayon colors, nature can use pigments to create its own colors. » More …