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

Ancient blanket made with 11,500 turkey feathers

Turkey feathers.“Blankets or robes made with turkey feathers as the insulating medium were widely used by Ancestral Pueblo people, but little is known about how they were made because so few such textiles have survived due to their perishable nature,” said Bill Lipe, emeritus professor of anthropology at WSU and lead author of a new paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Lipe and a team of archaeologists analyzed an approximately 800-year-old turkey feather blanket from » More …

A new, simple way to classify marine biomes

Coral reef.WSU scientists have developed a new way to classify the ocean’s diverse environments, shedding new light on how marine biomes are defined and changed by nature and humans.

Research by Alli Cramer (’20 PhD environment) and WSU Professor Stephen Katz revealed a new approach which sorts biomes based on their life-supporting potential and stability of the sea floor. » More …

The power of symbiosis

Stephanie Porter.“Understanding the complex and often positive role the microbiome plays in the health of plants and animals has precipitated a real renaissance in biology,” says microbiologist Stephanie Porter, who studies the evolution of cooperation and plant–microbe symbiosis. “There’s been a blossoming of ideas due to new genomic tools for understanding this microbiome—the set of all microbes that live in and on plants and animals.”

“But there’s also been a shift in our thinking about microbes. We’ve moved from microbes being viewed strictly as the cause of diseases or that they are at best harmless, to thinking they have » More …

Glacier mice at play

People at a beach.Glacier mice could be something from a fairytale—mossy little puffballs filled with tiny fanciful creatures.

“They are adorable—they really do look like little rodents,” says glacier biologist Scott Hotaling, a postdoctoral research associate in the School of Biological Sciences at WSU. Hotaling studies organisms that live in the world’s coldest locations such as the ice sheets in Alaska and Iceland where these glacier moss balls » More …

More economic worries mean less caution about COVID‑19

Hands and hand sanitizer.Workers experiencing job and financial insecurity are less likely to follow the CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19, such as physical distancing, limiting trips from home and washing hands, according to a study led by WSU Vancouver psychology professor Tahira Probst.

“We all have a finite set of resources at our disposal, whether it’s money, time or social support, and individuals who have fewer of those resources appear » More …

Fallen, but not from history

Roses laid on the WSU veterans memorial.Charles Kirkham. Noel Plowman. Toll Seike. Allen Ferguson. Sidney Beinke. Myron “Mike” Carstensen. Archie Buckley.

They were husbands, fathers, sons, brothers. One was a standout college athlete and beloved coach. A couple were pilots. A few quit school to serve. Some were never found.

These seven servicemen are a handful of nearly 260 military personnel with ties to WSU who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II. Now, 75 years after the end of the war, the stories of the men and women who didn’t » More …

Onward to a new era

Over the next decade or so, enormous breakthroughs in quantum theory and engineering are expected to deliver products that will boggle the mind. The revolution includes the work of visionary researchers at WSU like theoretical physicist Michael Forbes.

Forbes, whose voice carries traces of his Canadian roots, studies the extreme properties of neutron stars. When prodded, he good-naturedly admits his student days at MIT were much like » More …

War songs and lullabies behind origins of music

Horns in a marching band.Love is not the reason why we sing and create symphonies—at least not the primary reason, according to a new evolutionary theory of the origins of music.

“Sex and mating are a part of the story, but music seems to expand far beyond that particular domain,” said Ed Hagen, WSU evolutionary anthropologist and a co-author of a study recently published in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

“The sexual selection hypothesis doesn’t really explain » More …

Cannabis reduces OCD symptoms in the short term

Cannabis.People with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, report that the severity of their symptoms was reduced by about half within four hours of smoking cannabis, according to a Washington State University study.

“The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said Carrie Cuttler, WSU assistant professor of psychology and the study’s corresponding author. “To me, the CBD findings are really promising because » More …

Social-belonging exercise improves ESL student success

A group chatting outside.A study conducted at 19 universities found that a brief social-belonging exercise boosts the performance and persistence of students who speak English as a second language in STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and math.

“We found that this fairly brief intervention that involves reading stories from older students and doing a writing exercise had lasting effects throughout the first year of college for ESL students,” said Elizabeth Canning, assistant professor of » More …