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WSU Tri-Cities team researching use of fungi to restore native plant populations

Transplanting fungi to restore native plant populations in the Midwest and Northwest is the focus of efforts by a team of WSU Tri-Cities researchers.

Tanya Cheeke.Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with many plant roots, which helps stabilize the soil, conserve water and provides a habitat for many birds and insects, said Tanya Cheeke, assistant professor of biology. Some native plant species are more dependent on mycorrhizal fungi than invasive plant species. So, when that fungi is disturbed, native plants may not be able to compete as well with invasive species, disrupting the natural ecosystem of the environment and inhibiting many natural processes, she said.

“One way to improve native plant survival and growth in disturbed environments may be to inoculate seedlings with native soil microbes, which are then transplanted into a restoration site,” Cheeke said. “We’ve been doing prairie restoration in Kansas for the past two years. Now, we’re also doing something similar in the Palouse area in Washington.”

Cheeke is working with a team of undergraduate and graduate students to complete the research.

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WSU Insider


R&D Magazine

Jan. 12-Feb. 8: Emotionally powerful exhibit focuses on child loss

Susana ButterworthThe emotionally powerful, poignant “Empty Photo Project,” created by Washington State University Tri-Cities student Susana Butterworth, that details the tragic and emotional experience of what it is like to lose a child, will be on display from Jan. 12-Feb. 8 in the WSU Tri-Cities Art Gallery.

The exhibition, which Butterworth began in a fine arts course at WSU Tri-Cities after losing her own son in utero, tells the story of 25 parents who have lost a child, and the physical and emotional impact it has had on their lives and their relationships with family, friends and even strangers. In addition to the written stories of each parent featured, each features a photo of the parent taken by Butterworth, which represents both the physical and mental hole left in the parents’ lives after the child’s passing.


An opening reception for the exhibition will be held 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, in the WSU Tri-Cities Art Gallery.

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WSU News

Tri-City Herald

Earthquakes south of Toppenish had no effect on Union Gap fissure

Stephen Reidel

Two earthquakes that shook the ground about 18 miles south of Toppenish on Friday likely had no effect on a fissure forming on Rattlesnake Ridge, a geologist said.

Steve Reidel, an adjunct geology professor at Washington State University’s Tri-Cities campus, said the quakes would be unnoticeable given how far underground they were happening.

He also said it does not appear that the quakes contributed to the fissure on Rattlesnake Ridge near Union Gap. The crack was first discovered in October, and it has been monitored since. Officials have urged about 50 residents in the area to leave as a landslide could occur in coming weeks. The state Department of Transportation has warned drivers to watch for falling rocks on Interstate 82 in the area just north and south of the gap.

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Yakima Herald
KXLY Spokane


WSU Tri-Cities program allows scholars to live, work—bring inspiration

Laurel Terlesky, a celebrated artist who’s spent years exploring touch and memory, is the first participant in the new Guest House Cultural Capital Residency through Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Peter Christenson

“We hope this will culminate in some fruitful projects,” said Peter Christenson, an assistant professor of fine arts and the residency program’s director.

The program invites creative scholars in varying fields to live and work in Richland for short periods of time, from one week to one month. They conduct research that’s inspired by the area or that seeks to build culture and community in the region, and they make connections with students and community members along the way.

It’s an opportunity for the scholars to work and research in a new setting, and for the community to get an infusion of new ideas and inspiration, Christenson said.

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Tri-City Herald

Richland art exhibit highlights work of late WSU professor

Some 37 artistic treasures found in a Pomeroy, Idaho, farm house are on display through Dec. 11 at The Art Center at WSU Tri-Cities.

Called “Worth Griffin in Mexico, 1935,” the work was created by Worth D. Griffin, an accomplished artist and longtime art instructor at WSU in Pullman. Griffin spent about nine months in southern Mexico in the mid-1930s, making portraits and sketches of the people and things he saw. » More …