Washington State University scientists have been awarded $1 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop molecular machines that self-replicate, producing pounds of 100-percent pure material.
The two principal investigators for the Keck grant, James Brozik, the Donald and Marianna Matteson Distinguished Professor of chemistry at WSU, and Kerry Hipps, Regents Professor of chemistry, have decades of experience in molecular spectroscopy, single-molecule research and material science. Their team will include two postdoctoral fellows and two graduate students who will work full time on the interdisciplinary project for the next three years.
“This cutting-edge research is a prime example of the innovative work being done by our faculty in chemistry, as well as in units all across the WSU system, and contributes to our goal to be among the top 25 public research universities in the nation by 2030,” said Larry Hufford, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a new technology that detects telltale bits of genetic material that living creatures shed into their environment. It enables wildlife scientists to confirm the presence of a wide variety of aquatic organisms without the hassle of finding them.
Colleen Kamoroff, a former WSU natural resources graduate student, and her advisor Caren Goldberg, an assistant professor in the WSU School of the Environment, used eDNA to detect the deadly fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or Bd one month before it impacted populations of mountain yellowed-legged frogs in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park in California.
A team of scientists including researchers from Washington State University has shown for the first time that nicotine residue can be extracted from plaque, also known as “dental calculus”, on the teeth of ancient tobacco users.
“The ability to identify nicotine and other plant-based drugs in ancient dental plaque could help us answer longstanding questions about the consumption of intoxicants by ancient humans,” said Shannon Tushingham, a WSU assistant professor of anthropology and co-author of a new study on the research in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports. “For example, it could help us determine whether all members of society used tobacco, or only adults, or only males or females.”
For the first time, researchers have seen life rebounding in the world’s driest desert, demonstrating that it could also be lurking in the soils of Mars.
Led by Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an international team studied the driest corner of South America’s Atacama Desert, where decades pass without any rain. Scientists have long wondered whether microbes in the soil of this hyperarid environment, the most similar place on Earth to the Martian surface, are permanent residents or merely dying vestiges of life, blown in by the weather.
In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Schulze-Makuch and his collaborators reveal that even the hyper-arid Atacama Desert can provide a habitable environment for microorganisms.
When the last of the volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius settled over Pompeii in A.D. 79, it preserved a detailed portrait of life in the grand Roman city, from bristling military outposts to ingenious aqueducts. Now researchers say the eruption nearly 2,000 years ago also captured clues to one of today’s most pressing social problems.
Analyzing dwellings in Pompeii and 62 other archaeological sites dating back 11,200 years, a team of experts has ranked the distribution of wealth in those communities. Bottom line: economic disparities increased over the centuries and technology played a role.