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WSU researchers see popular herbicide affecting health across generations

Michael Skinner portrait
Michael Skinner

First, the good news. Washington State University researchers have found that a rat exposed to a popular herbicide while in the womb developed no diseases and showed no apparent health effects aside from lower weight.

Now, the weird news. The grand-offspring of that rat did have more disease, as did a great-grand offspring third generation.

“The third generation had multiple diseases and much more frequently than the third generation of unexposed rats,” said Michael Skinner, a Washington State University professor of biological sciences. At work, says Skinner, are epigenetic inheritance changes that turn genes on and off, often because of environmental influences.

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WSU News

10 CAS undergrads receive Carson, Auvil research awards

Ten students in the College of Arts & Sciences are among 27 WSU undergraduates at Pullman and Vancouver to receive two types of awards from the Office of Undergraduate Research, part of WSU Undergraduate Education.

Students in anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, environmental studies, and history received Carson and Auvil awards. They will work with faculty mentors throughout the 2017-18 academic year on research, scholarly, and creative projects that advance or create new knowledge in their specific fields.

“Awards are typically $1,000 and help to ease financial stress, so students can focus more on their research,” said Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.

“We are fortunate to have generous alumni and friends whose gifts make these awards possible. Supporting undergraduates in their research also adds immeasurably to their educational experience at our top research university,” she said.

Awardees will present their research results at the seventh annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on April 2, 2018.

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WSU News

Monarch butterflies disappearing from western U.S., researchers say

The monarch butterfly populations in western North America have declined dramatically and face a greater risk of extinction, a new study shows.

Cheryl SchulzScientists at Washington State University found that the decline in western monarch butterfly populations was significantly more than previously believed and greater than eastern monarchs.

“In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000,” said Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University, Vancouver.

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WSU News

Only getting hotter from here

Asaph Cousins
Asaph Cousins

The National Weather Service predicts highs in the mid-90s for the rest of the week, but a team of climate experts from across the country predicts the region will experience a higher frequency of extremely hot days in the decades to come.

According to an interactive map of temperatures based off data from collaborative research team Climate Impact Lab and published by The Seattle Times, the entire state of Washington will experience an increasing number of days with temperatures over 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming years – whether countries take action against climate change in the future or not.

So why does it matter? Besides the obvious potential dangers and everyday annoyances a sweltering hot day poses, Asaph Cousins, associate professor of plant biology for Washington State University, said such temperature changes generally have a dramatic impact on plant life.

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Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Five CAS faculty among 12 Smith Teaching and Learning award winners

Five College of Arts & Sciences faculty, from four departments and two campuses, are among 12 faculty University-wide whose projects aimed at enhancing undergraduate learning will be funded by the Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment.

The winning project proposals address teaching and learning issues and improvements, support WSU learning goals, such as critical thinking and communication, and reflect a commitment to resolve factors raised by recent degree assessments.

“Many of the projects detail teaching innovations designed to better support deep, life-long learning,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “Some tap into emerging or discipline-specific pedagogies. Others support further growth of unique projects already under way.”

The first impact of the grants will be felt by thousands of undergraduates as early as fall classes.

“As methods and results are shared with other WSU faculty and through academic publications, the ultimate impact of these WSU grants will be very far reaching,” Wack said.

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WSU News