Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Biological Sciences

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 …

Crimson Spirit Award – Elly Sweet

Elly Sweet standing in front of the Brelsford WSU Visitor Center.Recipient of the WSU Crimson Spirit Award for March 2018 is Elly Sweet, a clinical assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences at WSU Tri-Cities.

Honored for her exceptional mentoring and outstanding contributions to the WSU community, Sweet is the faculty academic advisor for all certified majors in biology, general studies in biological sciences, and pre-health programs at WSU Tri-Cities. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she advises more than » 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 …

CAS leads top 20 WSU research stories of 2017

From rising inequality and declining Monarch butterfly populations to a particle with negative mass, news coverage about the College of Arts and Sciences research reached millions of people last year.

News outlets carrying the stories ran the gamut of the nation’s most popular media, including CNN, The Washington Post and National Public Radio, as well as specialty science publications like Science and all the region’s major news vehicles. » More …

2018 CAS faculty award recipients

CAS logo on white with borderEvery year, the College of Arts and Sciences recognizes faculty excellence in teaching, service, and career achievement. Congratulations to our 14 awardees for 2018: » More …

WSU/UI team to develop national milk conference

Female black and white cowA team of researchers from Washington State University and the University of Idaho has received a $50,000 grant from the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program to organize a national conference in Washington, D.C., on the compositions of bovine and human milk.

“Human milk is the only food ever designed by nature to feed humans, but cows’ milk comes close,” said Michelle McGuire, professor in the WSU School of Biological Sciences. “The more we can learn » More …

In the company of penguins, whales, and pteropods

Researcher in red coat in snow field Luana Lins, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Biological Sciences, is fresh off a month-long visit studying polar organisms as part of the National Science Foundation’s Training Program in Antarctica for Early-Career Scientists. When she wasn’t counting bacteria or extracting the DNA of pteropods, Lins was visited by penguins, watched whales, and toured the drafty hut assembled in 1902 by Robert Falcon Scott. She saw precious little fresh food and not a single vascular plant.

“Antarctica is beautiful, magical and harsh,” Lins said on her return. “I left with an extreme awareness » More …

It’s in the genes

Omar Cornejo and Joanna Kelley in their WSU labWhen Omar Cornejo got his genomic analysis back from 23andMe, he and his wife, fellow population geneticist Joanna Kelley, were both a bit surprised and vindicated. Venezuelan, Cornejo expected to see the alleles, or variations of a gene, from Native American, western European, and North African populations. But he was unaware that his family’s deep history also included ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa.

That just goes to show the importance of broadly sampling the genome, says Kelley. “The lesson is that if you just look at the mitochondria, you’d assume this person is from Africa. But if you look at just the Y chromosome, you’d assume that this is a Native American.” » More …

Dear Dr. Universe: Why does hair turn gray?

Dr. Universe examining a hair follicleHair comes in lots of different colors. There’s black, medium brown, auburn, light brown, strawberry blonde, and copper, to name just a few. But in the end, almost everyone will have hair that’s gray or white.

I decided to visit my friend Cynthia Cooper, a biologist and researcher at Washington State University, for help answering this question from Darae, age 10.

Ever since you were born, different cells have been working on your hair. Each hair sprouts from a follicle, a sort of little hair-making factory under your skin. Here, some of your cells are making your hair and others are coloring it. » More …