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Most-read research stories of 2020

College of Arts and Sciences - Washington State University.In a year dominated by COVID-19, popular research news played on questions of how things could get worse, or how we might leave this troubled planet altogether. Overall, news stories about WSU research that did the best still had a focus on real world impact.

CAS faculty featured in five of the top 10 most popular stories, and were well-represented in the next 90-plus press releases tracked by WSU News.

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A look back: Showcase 2020 honorees

Showcase.Each year the WSU Showcase awards recognize the outstanding achievements of faculty and staff. Eight CAS faculty were among those honored in the spring of 2020. These individuals stand among the world’s top scholars, the nation’s most effective and beloved instructors, and the University’s most dedicated and visionary professionals.

The 2020 CAS honorees are: » More …

Standing by for testing surge

Sylena Harper, Hannah Wilson, and Victoria Fitzpatrick.Inside the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) on the WSU Pullman campus, three recent Coug alumae—Victoria Fitzpatrick (biology), Sylena Harper (chemistry and biochemistry), and Hannah Wilson (genetics and cell biology)—are busy providing laboratory results that could save lives.

Since last July, the three have been working in shifts to process COVID-19 tests from throughout the Palouse and eastern Washington. To date, the lab has tested over 55,000 samples. » More …

Identifying biomarkers linked to autism

Biomarkers in human sperm that can indicate a propensity to father children with autism spectrum disorder have been identified by a team of international researchers led by Michael Skinner, WSU professor of biological sciences.

The biomarkers are epigenetic, meaning they involve changes to molecular factors that regulate genome activity such as gene expression independent of DNA sequence, and can be passed down to future generations. » More …

Tasmanian devils may survive their own pandemic

Tasmanian devilAmid the global COVID-19 crisis, there is some good news about a wildlife pandemic—which may also help scientists better understand how other emerging diseases evolve.

WSU researchers have found strong evidence that a transmissible cancer that has decimated Tasmanian devil populations likely won’t spell their doom. » More …

Beavers may help amphibians threatened by climate change

The recovery of beavers may have beneficial consequences for amphibians because beaver dams can create the unique habitats that amphibians need.

“Beaver-dammed wetlands support more of the amphibian species that need a long time to develop in water as larvae before they are able to live on land as adults,” said Jonah Piovia-Scott, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences and one of » More …

Senior researcher honored at multicultural STEM conference

Jenna Pederson, a general studies in biological sciences major from Silverdale, Wash., received an award for her undergraduate research presentation at the annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), which were held virtually in November.

Mentored by WSU psychology professor Rebecca Craft, Pederson’s research project on modeling the severity of human pain was recognized in the physiology and pharmacology category, which » More …

Wine and fungi: The perfect pairing?

Students on Tanya Cheeke's research team plant wine grape plants for their fungi experiment at WSU Tri-Cities.A team at WSU Tri-Cities is researching the impact that a type of fungus could have on vineyard growth and associated nutrient uptake, which could lead to less watering and less fertilizer required for a successful grape crop.

Tanya Cheeke, assistant professor of biology, was awarded a two-year $40,000 grant to support a field experiment from the BIOAg program of » More …

International workshop aims to boost number, success of women in STEM

Elissa Schwartz.Elissa Schwartz, an associate professor with faculty appointments in both the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and an affiliate faculty member of the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS), is committed to increasing the participation and success of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

In addition to a number of domestic and international activities in recent years, Schwartz recently organized a three-part, interactive forum featuring live mentoring by women scientists, mathematicians and » More …