Skip to main content Skip to navigation
CAS in the Media Arts and Sciences Media Headlines

Small differences in mom’s behavior may show up in child’s epigenome

Adding evidence to the importance of early development, a new study links neutral maternal behavior toward infants with an epigenetic change in children related to stress response.

Epigenetics are molecular processes independent of DNA that influence gene behavior. In this study, researchers found that neutral or awkward behavior of mothers with their babies at 12 months correlated with an epigenetic change called methylation, or the addition of methane and carbon molecules, on a gene called NR3C1 when the children were 7 years old. This gene has been associated with regulating the body’s response to stress.

Elizabeth Holdsworth.

“There is evidence of a relationship between the quality of maternal-infant interaction and methylation of this gene though these are small effects in response to a relatively small variation in interaction,” said Elizabeth Holdsworth, a Washington State University biological anthropologist and lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Human Biology.

Other studies have connected extreme stress in early life, like neglect and abuse, to more dramatic methylation on this particular gene in adults. However, Holdsworth emphasized that the small difference indicated by this study may be an indication of normal human variation and it’s hard to determine if there are any long-term effects.

Find out more

Science Daily
The Indian Express
WSU Insider

Foley speaker: Policies have made migration more dangerous

During talk at WSU, UCLA professor says U.S. stance on illegal immigration has led to more deaths

Jason De León, a professor of anthropology at UCLA, started his talk Thursday at the Foley Institute Speaker series with a clip from the 2006 movie “Children of Men.”

In the scene, the character Theo, played by Clive Owen, sits on a train as a voice reminds the passengers that housing, feeding or hiring what the movie calls illegal immigrants is a crime, while migrants who cannot get on the train are rioting.

“I show this because I believe this is both our current reality and a look into our future,” De León said during the talk at Washington State University.

De León then showed a clip from a few years ago of a caravan of people in Tijuana, Mexico, who were being pushed away from the United State border by both Mexico and border agents. Migration is not unique to the United States, but is a global issue, De León said.

Find out more

Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Palouse soundscape composer presents music of nature

Yii Kah Hoe.

Since coming to Washington State University from Malaysia in August, Yii Kah Hoe has ventured with his microphone into nearby woods and forests, along rivers and streams, and even out onto an icy pond to capture the music of nature.

An internationally recognized musician and composer, and the university’s first Fulbright scholar in residence, Yii is teaching, researching and continuing his artistic work of composing soundscapes that incorporate elements from nature and aim to raise environmental awareness.

He will premiere his newest composition, Of the Land, created in and about the Palouse, on March 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center. The free, public presentation, which is part of the 2023 Festival of Contemporary Artists in Music, will feature sounds of local nature and performances by music faculty Aaron Agulay, baritone, and Keri McCarthy, English horn.

Members of the audience also will play a part in the production, Yii said. Listeners will be able to move through the sounds emanating from speakers located across the space and contribute to the shifting, Palouse-based soundscape. “It will effectively transform the audience into performers in my music,” he said.

The composition, which Yii spent five months preparing, is a compilation of soundscape recordings from more than 12 different nature parks, many in the Pullman area and some in Idaho.

Find out more

WSU Insider

Portland’s broken window epidemic: Who’s behind the vandalism and what is going to stop it?

Every 42 minutes there is a report of vandalism in Portland — often involving broken windows. Some storefronts have been hit repeatedly.

There were more reports of broken windows and vandalism in Portland last year than during the violent protests of 2020.

Laurie Drapela.

“It is a complex problem that really requires a complex solution,” said Laurie Drapela, a criminal justice professor at Washington State University Vancouver. Drapela explained that because there are fewer people living and working in downtown Portland, there aren’t as many eyes and ears around to help prevent crime.

 “You have a lot of office complex space now where people are working from home, so they’re not downtown taking lunch breaks, going to and from the MAX or TriMet,” said Drapela. “They provide natural surveillance. What we call in the field — guardianship.”

Drapela says the community should focus on bringing people back downtown, especially on nights and weekends — when much of the vandalism occurs.

Increased police presence and social services will help, Drapela explained — but at the end of the day, it’s less likely that criminals will break windows if people are around and watching.

“You could see some turnaround here that is not short lived. It is more into the future and gets us back to the downtown Portland we know and love,” said Drapela.

Find out more


Kim Christen appointed associate vice chancellor for research advancement and partnerships

Kimberly Christen.

The Office of Research has appointed Kimberly Christen as associate vice chancellor for Research Advancement and Partnerships. Christen takes up the role on Feb. 13.

In this role, Christen will provide leadership, long-range strategy, and short-term planning for Research Advancement and Partnerships and the research centers supported by the Office of Research. She will lead systemwide efforts to develop and strengthen the research culture at WSU, including an emphasis on equity-centered research; to increase the capacity of, and productivity in, transdisciplinary research, scholarship, and creative activity across all disciplines; and track emerging trends, growth areas and new opportunities in strategically important research areas by capturing research intelligence related to the external funding environment.

As a key member of the Office of Research management team, Christen will serve as an advocate and advisor to Christopher Keane, vice president for research at WSU and vice chancellor for research at WSU Pullman, in matters relating to initiatives and programs aimed at increasing the impact, stature, and visibility of the university’s research, scholarship, and creative activities.

Find out more

WSU Insider