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

Eight proteins regulate insulin in hibernating bears

A giant grizzly bear walking past some logs in a grassy field.Feeding honey to hibernating bears helped Washington State University researchers find the potential genetic keys to the bears’ insulin control, an advance that could ultimately lead to a treatment for human diabetes.

Every year, bears gain an enormous amount of weight, then barely move for months, behavior that would » More …

Methane emissions from reservoirs are increasing

A dam with turbulent water emerging from its turbines.Over time, the water collected behind dams will release greater amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas with even worse effects than carbon dioxide, according to a recent study by researchers at WSU and the University of Quebec.

“On a per mass basis, methane has a much stronger impact on climate than carbon dioxide does,” said John Harrison, » More …

Artist takes to the sky

Mark Showalter stands in front of his Cessna. On the Saturday before the start of fall semester this year, alumnus Mark Showalter (’84 fine arts) charted a course for crimson and gray glory.

That’s the day the Tri-Cities business owner and devoted Coug took off in his Cessna and flew a route in the shape of WSU’s cougar head logo over the Palouse.

» More …

Self‑pollinating plant shows rapid loss of genetic variation

Jeremiah Busch.Pollinators like bees are important to biodiversity in their own right, but a study led by Jeremiah Busch, a Washington State University evolutionary biologist, indicates that their decline will also have potentially devastating impacts on plants, and quickly.

“If pollinators are lost, it’s not just going to be a problem for the pollinators: plant populations will lose genetic variation in tens of generations — not thousands, but tens,” said Busch. » More …

Dry lightning study could aid wildfire forecasting

Lightning strike.Researchers from the School of the Environment at Washington State University, Vancouver, have developed the first long-term climatology of dry lightning — lightning which occurs with less than 2.5mm of rainfall — in central and northern California,

“Unlike human-caused fires that originate in a single location, lightning outbreaks can strike multiple locations and start numerous » More …

Scientists urge preparation for catastrophic climate change

A traffic sign that's partially submerged in flood water.With the unprecedented rapid pace of climate change, it is time to start seriously considering the worst-case scenarios warns Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler.

Kohler is part of an international team of climate experts that argue that although unlikely, climate change catastrophes, including human » More …

The influence of praise and put-downs

cartoon of 5 people with empty speech bubbles above each one. iStanch image.In humans and non-humans alike, physical contests are a well documented form of competition when it comes to scarce resources such as food, territory, sex, and power. Humans, however, have developed a more subtle, and now more common, approach: informational warfare. One of its primary manifestations is gossip.

While it may not physically batter or kill rivals, gossip can do great damage. “Those with better reputations often » More …

The chemistry of clean fuel

Two men in white lab coats observe a small electrochemical experiement.A new energy-efficient method developed by a team of WSU scientists to locally produce hydrogen gas from ethanol and water has the potential to make clean hydrogen fuel a more viable alternative to fossil fuels.

“Our technology produces pure hydrogen at high pressure with high efficiency and at a low energy cost while also capturing the » More …

Opioids kill minorities at younger ages

AlthoughOutline of the state of Washington filled with the image of an ambulance and opioids in the background. opioid use cuts across socio-economic boundaries, WSU researchers have found racial and ethnic minorities in Washington state are more likely to die from an overdose earlier in their lives than non-Hispanic white residents.

“This work confirms the epidemic is far reaching and having dramatic impacts on quality and length of life for Americans of all » More …

Birds look for social cues, too

Two pine sisken birds.Birds of a feather not only flock together but also appear to settle down together.

“The presence of another bird that isn’t migratory seems to be a really potent cue to stop migration,” said Heather Watts, a Washington State University behavioral ecologist and corresponding author on a study recently published in Biology Letters. “We saw changes in their behavior and changes in their » More …