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How Accurate Are Dog Years?

Up until recently, we thought that one year of human life equaled seven dog years. The origins of that myth are unknown. What we do know is that people have been trying to figure out a way to calculate dog years in human years since the 1200s.

An early example of this is an inscription at Westminster Abbey that dates back to the year 1268. Its inscription explains that one human year is equivalent to nine dog years. About 50 years ago, scientists lowered that number to seven. William Fortney, a Kansas State University veterinarian, told The Wall Street Journal, “My guess is it was a marketing ploy. It was a way to encourage owners to bring in their pets at least once a year.”

While scientists, veterinarians, and dog lovers have been trying to debunk the dog-years myth, it persists in books, news articles, and the popular imagination. “You can’t really kill the seven-year rule,” says Kelly M. Cassidy, curator of a biology museum at Washington State University, who in her spare time maintains an online compilation of dog-longevity studies.

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American Physiological Society Announces 2023 Award Recipients

The American Physiological Society (APS) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Society’s most prestigious and highly competitive awards. Awardees will be recognized for their achievements at the American Physiology Summit, APS’ flagship annual meeting, to be held April 20–23, 2023, in Long Beach, California.

Wesley Dowd.

William Wesley Dowd, PhD, associate professor of biological sciences at Washington State University, received the John F. Perkins Jr. Research Career Enhancement Award, which allows an early-career researcher to obtain special training or an established researcher to develop new skills or retrain in areas of developing interest.

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High winds can worsen pathogen spread at outdoor chicken farms

Farmers who keep their chickens outdoors may want to watch the weather. A study of chicken farms in the West found that high winds increased the prevalence of Campylobacter in outdoor flocks, a bacterial pathogen in poultry that is the largest single cause of foodborne illness in the U.S.

Researchers found that about 26% of individual chickens had the pathogen at the “open environment” farms in the study, which included organic and free-range chicken farms. High winds the week prior to sampling and the farms’ location in more intensive agricultural settings were linked to a greater prevalence of Campylobacter.

Olivia Smith.

“Farmers need to be aware of the risk,” said co-lead author Olivia Smith, a recent Washington State University Ph.D. graduate in the School of Biological Sciences. “These environmental factors are influencing if the poultry are going to have foodborne pathogens, so farmers need to be aware of what’s around them. If there’s a lot of wind and if they’re in really agricultural areas, that’s a problem.”

To help reduce Campylobacter exposure, the researchers suggested farmers consider installing windbreaks and watch weather patterns, so they can bring chickens inside during periods of high winds that could be blowing the bacteria onto their farms from nearby fields and livestock areas.

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Showcase award winners announced

Washington State University faculty and staff making outstanding contributions to the institution and beyond are being recognized as part of the 2023 Showcase awards.

The outstanding achievements of researchers, faculty members, staff, and leaders are recognized each year in the lead up to Showcase. The annual event is a weeklong celebration of academic excellence that includes research expositions as well as talks from distinguished university representatives, and many other activities.

Cheryl Schulz.

This year’s Distinguished Faculty Address will be given by Cheryl Schultz from the School of Biological Sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences. Schultz, who is located on the WSU Vancouver campus, is a renowned conservation biologist specializing in species threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, and global climate change.

Additional Showcase award winners in CAS:

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award – Danh Pham, School of Music, WSU Pullman

President’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Career-Track Faculty – Vanessa Cozza, English, WSU Tri-Cities; and Sophia Tegart, Music, WSU Pullman

Sahlin Eminent Faculty Award – Keri McCarthy, Music, WSU Pullman

Sahlin Faculty Excellence Awards – Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, Psychology, WSU Pullman

Emeritus Society Legacy of Excellence Award – Nicholas Lovrich, Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, WSU Pullman

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Butterfly researcher Cheryl Schultz to present Distinguished Faculty Address

Cheryl Schulz.

Cheryl Schultz helped put the Fender’s blue butterfly on the road to recovery, from a low of about 1,000 butterflies in its Oregon habitat to 20,000 to 30,000 butterflies today. It’s a rare success story of an insect that has been downlisted from endangered to threatened, made possible, she said, by science, partnerships, and time.

Schultz, a professor of conservation biology in Washington State University’s School of Biological Sciences in Vancouver, is adopting the same approach to recover migrating monarch butterflies across the western United States. In recognition of her successes, she was chosen to present WSU’s Distinguished Faculty Address on March 29, during the university’s weeklong celebration of academic achievement, Showcase.

“We need to understand the biology in the context of lands that are used for a lot of purposes,” she said. “We also need to work with people, because we’re not just protecting a species, we’re trying to balance it with the needs of people. If we’re going to recover endangered species, we’re going to have to do it with the people who are there now.”

When Schultz began studying biodiversity, the Pacific Northwest was convulsed by what people now call the spotted owl wars. Efforts to protect that threatened species were characterized as pitting timber jobs against conservation.

“Environmental issues were painted as very black and white, good or evil,” said Schultz. “Figuring out how to do something about it is not black or white, but the gray area in between.”

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