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New collaborative to study impact of COVID‑19 on moms, babies

Having a baby is a life-changing event that brings joy, but for many women also comes with stress and anxiety. The restrictions and uncertainties associated with the current COVID‑19 pandemic are undoubtedly adding to those fears and worries, so more than a dozen WSU researchers recently joined forces to form the WSU COVID‑19 Infant, Maternal, and Family Health Research Collaborative.

Courtney Meehan.

“We are exploring how maternal COVID‑19 infection is related to overall breastmilk composition and infant health and wellbeing. Specifically, we are interested in potential protective effects of breastfeeding during this time,” said WSU lead investigator Courtney Meehan, an associate professor of anthropology and associate dean of research and graduate studies in the WSU College of Arts and Sciences. “It is essential that we get this information quickly and accurately so we can better inform the public, as well as those who create policy,” she said, pointing to the varying recommendations that are currently being put forward by agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and UNICEF.

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WSU Insider


Flattening the curve with jazz

The WSU Jazz Big Band isn’t letting the global pandemic get in the way of delivering excellent big band entertainment.

Greg Yasinitsky.

The award-winning group, directed by Regents Professor Greg Yasinitsky, put technology to the test to produce a YouTube video of the aptly titled composition, “Flatten That Curve.”

Apart from the quality of the music, what makes the performance fascinating to watch is the fact that the band members recorded their parts and video individually using whatever technology they had available. Yasinitsky then mixed, mastered and assembled the performance together.

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WSU Insider

Tri-Cities grad student to donate COVID-19 relief check to help DACA students

Washington State University Tri-Cities graduate student Aaron Pelly made the decision to donate his relief check to support those in the process of or who are hoping to renew their participation in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

Fiveyoung women hold a Mexican flag and colorful drape.
Members of the WSU Tri-Cities Dreamers Club.

When considering what to do with his relief funding, he saw an email that detailed resources for and ways to support DACA students amid this unprecedented time from the WSU Tri-Cities Dreamers Club. Pelly, who is earning his master’s degree in environmental studies, decided that his money would be best spent supporting students that may not have resources to help them continue their studies or maintain their legal status.

“I am in a position where I could do this – provide support for students that otherwise might not have the resources to be able to eat, pay rent and renew for the DACA program,” Pelly said. “My wife and I have a stable income. We wanted to use these funds to help support individuals who are really struggling. There are many who have lost their jobs and have nowhere else to turn. Many may not have the resources to afford renewing their DACA application amid the pandemic.”

With Pelly’s donation, a new fund was set up to support the application fees for DACA students, which cost an average of $500 per application.

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WSU Insider

Lessons learned responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Washington State University has made dramatic changes to its operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person classes across the system moved to online delivery. Vital student services, including academic advising, tutoring and career services, followed suit. Many employees made the adjustment to working from home, while others continue to report in-person in order to keep essential operations running smoothly.

In the course of responding to the ongoing public health emergency, lessons have been learned that will be relevant even after the return of normalcy.

Matthew Jockers.

“Though many classes are settling into a groove, we are still facing a number of technical challenges specific to students who for one reason or another lack access to broadband internet or to computers necessary for specific types of learning,” Matt Jockers, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said.

WSU has stepped up to this challenge by lending laptops to students and is working to make Wi-Fi available at Extension offices across the state.

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WSU Insider

More of us need help. Why is it so hard to ask for, and how can we make it easier?

The reluctance to reach out for help is a common tendency, but it’s an important one to unpack during a pandemic. How can we make that easier?

The first step is to understand why it’s so hard to reach out.

Craig Parks.

Requesting assistance is also uncomfortable because it’s “an admission that you’ve lost control of your situation,” says Craig Parks, a professor of social psychology and a vice provost at Washington State University. “We really need to feel, at all times, like we control our situations and can determine what happens to us.”

Plus, it creates a feeling of indebtedness — you helped me, so now I owe you — even if the helper doesn’t expect this, Parks says. “Socially, there’s still going to be a lot of pressure on you to reciprocate in kind.”

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Washington Post