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CAS in the Media Arts and Sciences Media Headlines

Undergraduate researchers tackle important questions in sciences, humanities

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, relieving chronic pain, understanding protest behavior and conserving wildlife are among the goals of eight faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects funded this spring by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Students from across the college—in mathematicschemistryforeign languages and politicalpsychologicalenvironmental and biological sciences—are working with faculty researchers to solve questions as diverse as what are a book’s chances of becoming a best seller and which food sources threatened butterflies prefer.

Courtney Meehan.

“The College of Arts and Sciences enthusiastically supports our students’ intellectual curiosity and the wide range of exciting and impactful research they conduct,” said Courtney Meehan, CAS associate dean for research and graduate studies. “Providing funds for these projects, and many more, advances the college’s ongoing commitment to support undergraduate students’ participation in an array of innovative research, scholarship and creative activities.”

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WSU Insider

Sometimes, what counts for a boy is just hanging out with a guy who cares

Sometimes, it’s about two guys putting together a gingerbread house kit. At age 11, a boy like Heaven Lowe is soaking up all those new experiences.

A gingerbread house needs frosting, and to make frosting, a guy needs to know how to separate the egg white from the yolk, his “big brother” says.

Big Brothers Big Sisters sets up matches like this all around the region, working with 1,200 children — almost evenly divided between boys and girls — who have mentors.

Heaven’s mom, Miranda Cady, 31, has three sons in the mentoring program. The boys’ father provides child support, but isn’t very involved in their daily lives, she says. She receives financial aid while taking online classes at Washington State University’s Global Campus, studying psychology and human resources management.

“A lot of my family never went to college,” she says. Cady’s goal is to open up a group home for foster children. With her background, she says about being a foster child, “I know how bad it can be.”

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Omaha World-Herald

Transfer student sets sights on law career following spinal cord injury

Climaco Abarca.

When Climaco Abarca was 15 years old, he lost the ability to walk following a paralyzing diving accident. While the accident changed the course of the Washington State University Tri-Cities junior’s life, it did not stop him from going to college and helping others in similar circumstances.

“Everyone would struggle with waking up one day and not being able to walk,” he said. “It is incredibly hard and there are many people that don’t think they could do it, but at the end of the day, you have to live and overcome. I have learned to live with my disability, and I don’t let it affect me. I have strong family support that is what has kept me motivated. I want to set a good example for them.”

Abarca has sought the help of WSU Tri-Cities TRIO Student Success Programs, which provides tutoring support, mentorship, help with financial aid and more for students who are low-income, first-generation and/or have a documented disability. Particularly, he said, being paired with a supplemental instructor for some of his classes has been crucial to his success.

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WSU Insider

Washington State University Vancouver breaks ground on science building

Set to open to students in fall 2023, the building will serve as an instructional and research facility featuring lab space, classrooms and offices primarily for those studying life sciences such as biology and chemistry. It will also feature space for programs in nursing, psychology and medicine.

Along with Netzhammer, WSU President Kirk Schulz and a handful of state legislators spoke to articulate how education projects like this have been critical in recent years.

“Since the start of the pandemic, a lot of people have become curious about medicinal research and vaccines,” Schulz said. “Even though we planned this building way before that, I think the research that will be done in this building is even more relevant.”

Schulz said what began as an extension of Pullman’s campus has now blossomed into a beacon of pride that supports Southwest Washington’s rapidly growing community.

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The Spokesman-Review

Study shows sleep loss does not interfere with ability to evaluate emotional situations

It’s no secret that going without sleep can affect people’s mood, but a new study shows it does not interfere with their ability to evaluate emotional situations.

Anthony Stenson.

“People do become less happy through sleep deprivation, but it’s not affecting how they are processing emotional stimuli in their environment,” said Anthony Stenson, a WSU psychology doctoral student and lead author of the study in Plos One.

Paul Whitney.

“I don’t think we want our first responders being numb to the emotional nature of the situations they encounter, and it looks like they are not. On the other hand, reacting normally to emotional situations, but not being able to control your own emotions, could be one reason sleep loss sometimes produces catastrophic errors in stressful situations.” Paul Whitney, WSU Professor of Psychology.

The current study shows that top-down regulation is a problem as well with “hot” or emotional cognitive processes. Future research is needed to understand whether the effects of sleep loss on the two top-down processes are linked.

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