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

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 …

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 …

Cacao analysis dates domesticated trees back 3,600 years

Theobroma cacao tree fruitsResearchers analyzing the genomes of cultivated cacao trees have traced their origin to a “single domestication event” some 3,600 years ago. The discovery opens a new front in a long-running argument regarding when and where humans started growing the source of chocolate.

“This evidence increases our understanding of how humans moved and established in America,” said Omar Cornejo, a Washington State University population geneticist and lead author of an article on the study in » More …

Researcher warns of possible reprise of worst known drought, famine

Engraving showing the plight of animals as well as humans in Bellary district A Washington State University researcher has completed the most thorough analysis yet of The Great Drought — the most devastating known drought of the past 800 years — and how it led to the Global Famine, an unprecedented disaster that took 50 million lives. She warns that the Earth’s current warming climate could make a similar drought even worse.

Deepti Singh, an assistant professor in the School of the Environment, used tree‑ring data, rainfall records and climate reconstructions to characterize the conditions leading up to the Great Drought, a period of widespread » More …

Professor composes soundtrack for new film

Greg Yasinitsky“The Cross-Up” — a short comedy film about a mafia-like character receiving a visit from God to turn his life around — features music composed and performed by WSU’s Greg Yasinitsky, Regents professor of music, saxophone, composition, and jazz studies.

The entire process for creating the soundtrack took approximately a year, Yasinitsky said. This involved writing the music, recording and having the directors review the soundtrack among other steps. » More …

Re-Imagined Radio: Sound-based storytelling for the digital age

Image of an old radio with a reel of images showing voice actors in costumeBefore riding off in search of the Oregon Territory, the rangers stood and joined the audience in one final chorus of the famous words from the mysterious masked man known as The Lone Ranger: “Hi-yo, Silver! Away!”

Applause erupted for the 11 voice actors and Foley artists dressed for the Old West. The lights of Vancouver’s timeless Kiggins Theatre slowly brightened, and the live radio broadcast of “The Lone Ranger Re-Imagined,” which had been streaming online in 32 countries across the globe, concluded.

This live performance » More …

Viewing the ordinary with new eyes

Drawing by Avantika BawaSporting a Portland Trail Blazers jersey, artist and Washington State University Vancouver associate professor of fine arts Avantika Bawa is talking about her new solo show at the Portland Art Museum.

The show, which opened Aug. 18, includes almost two dozen drawings of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum where the Blazers won their most recent championship … in 1977. The drawings are inspired by Bawa’s fascination — her “obsession,” as she says — with the coliseum. “Some people find it extremely boring, but I chose to take this building and put it on a pedestal and » More …

Historic find is subject of new documentary

Orlan Svingen during filmingRecent discoveries by a WSU history professor and his students may hold the key to an ongoing American West conflict.

After nearly 10 years of research, Professor Orlan Svingen, along with students and colleagues in the WSU public history field schools, unearthed an official U.S. government document from 1870 and several supporting records that shed new light on conflicting claims about historical use and ownership of large swaths of southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming. » More …

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