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College of Arts and Sciences Published research/scholarship/creative work

Public support for environmental spending hinges on White House

Infographic showing public support for environmental spending Leveraging the power of data analytics, WSU sociologist Erik Johnson teased apart the opinions of more than 20,000 people over more than four decades and found support for environmental spending consistently plummeted during the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Democrats all.

Johnson made his discovery using a statistical analysis that looked at poll respondents in terms of their age, the time period in which they were surveyed and » More …

Archeology: days of future past

HousesRapid global cooling 13,000 years ago challenged early occupants of Alaska to adapt. People used to hunting mammoths and other megafauna with big stone tools suddenly found their weapons shattering in the cold. Access to the stone they used to make them got buried under snow.

As with any climactic change, the cold resulted in a shift in fauna, requiring new tools. Early Alaskans turned to microblade technology, a technique they’d kept alive for » More …

Climate change affects breeding birds

White House Finch.The breeding seasons of wild house finches are shifting due to climate change, a Washington State University researcher has found.

The effect of climate change on the breeding season of birds has been documented before, but in a limited context. Heather Watts, an avian physiologist, reported her finding in Ibis, the International Journal of Avian Science. » More …

Interdisciplinary research reveals valuable pine resin possibilities

Light shining through pine trees in forest.WSU researchers have reverse engineered the way a pine tree produces a resin, which could serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to a range of fossil‑fuel based products worth billions of dollars.

Colleagues in the Institute for Biological Chemistry literally dissected the machinery by which loblolly pine produces oleoresin. Key aspects of their work utilized WSU’s Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center in the School of Biological Sciences.

Before the arrival of petroleum-derived alternatives in the 1960s, the sticky, fragrant oil‑resin mixture was central to » More …

The fabric of Washington

Woman’s dentalia cape.Stories, photos, paintings, and belongings like baskets and tools tell the rich history of Plateau tribes of the inland Pacific Northwest, a history now shared online.

The Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal, a gateway to those cultural materials, is maintained by Washington State University’s Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation (CDSC) in partnership with WSU’s Native American Programs.

The materials have been chosen and curated by » More …

Genetic mutation drives tumor regression in Tasmanian devils

Tasmanian devil.Genes and other genetic variations that appear to be involved in cancerous tumors shrinking in Tasmanian devils have been discovered by Washington State University scientists.

The research is an important first step toward understanding what is causing devil facial tumor disease — a nearly 100 percent fatal and contagious form of cancer — to go away in a small percentage of Tasmanian devils. Indirectly, it could have implications for treating cancer in humans and other mammals as well. » More …

WSM review: new vocal jazz CD

Album cover of Eyes Wide Open.Jamie Shew’s Eyes Wide Open holds something for every vocal jazz enthusiast. With two stellar compositions and eleven superb arrangements of her own, the listener has many delights from which to choose. Although Jamie (’98 music) has had all the skills, passion, intellect, and talent to make this album a reality for many years (hence the wealth of tracks), it was only after her husband lost his fight with cancer that she came to see herself as more of a professional performer—and one who could explore human emotions in the uplifting context of joy and healing. » More …

Six feet under: Deep soil can hold much of the Earth’s carbon

Infographic about soil carbon.One‑fourth of the carbon held by soil is bound to minerals as far as six feet below the surface, a Washington State University researcher has found. The discovery opens a new possibility for dealing with the element as it continues to warm the Earth’s atmosphere.

One hitch: Most of that carbon is concentrated deep beneath the world’s wet forests, and they won’t sequester as much as global temperatures continue to rise. » More …

Navarro‑Daniels named Matteson Distinguished Professor

Vilma Navarro-DanielsRecognizing her international reputation in service to language and culture studies, the College of Arts and Sciences named Vilma Navarro‑Daniels recipient of the Marianna Merritt and Donald S. Matteson Distinguished Professorship in Foreign Languages and Cultures.

“Professor Navarro‑Daniels is a prolific scholar whose international recognition and prominence continue to rise, and the Matteson award, with its encouragement of international travel and engagement, is aiding this endeavor,” said Carmen Lugo‑Lugo, SLCR director.

In the last few months, Navarro‑Daniels has traveled to Spain, Chicago and » More …

Northwest Indians used tobacco long before European contact

David Gang, left, and Shannon Tushingham holding ancient tobacco pipes WSU researchers have determined that Nez Perce Indians grew and smoked tobacco at least 1,200 years ago, long before the arrival of traders and settlers from the eastern United States. Their finding upends a long-held view that indigenous people in this area of the interior Pacific Northwest smoked only kinnikinnick or bearberry before traders brought tobacco starting around 1790.

Shannon Tushingham, a WSU assistant professor and director of its Museum of Anthropology, made the discovery after teaming up with David Gang, a professor in the Institute of Biological Chemistry, to analyze pipes and » More …