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Tasmania Devil study seeks to understand infectious cancer

Andrew Storfer
Andrew Storfer

Andrew Storfer, an Eastlick Distinguished professor of biology, received a $2.25 million grant from NSF’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease program to study a fatal facial tumor disease in Tasmanian devils caused by a rare infectious cancer that is pushing the species towards extinction.

Storfer, along with an international team of colleagues, will study the ecological genomics of both the disease and the Tasmanian devil to better understand the emergence, transmission and evolution of the disease.

Read more on the NSF website

Vancouver professor receives $1.1 million in grants to study how the brain understands what it hears

Christine Portfors
Christine Portfors

Christine Portfors, associate professor of biology and neuroscience and head of the Hearing and Communication Laboratory at Washington State University Vancouver, has received two federal grants totaling more than $1.1 million over three years. The grants will be used to study how neurons in the brains of mice detect, discriminate and categorize the different types of sounds mice use to communicate.

“Mice are social animals, and they use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with each other,” Portfors said. “These vocalizations are similar to the speech sounds used by humans to communicate, so what we learn about the mouse brain will help us understand how humans process speech.”

Read more about the grants

Grizzly bears benefit from return of wolves to Yellowstone

Grizzly bear
Grizzly bear

The return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park is having an interesting — though not surprising — effect on the larger ecosystem, affecting everything from grizzly bears to elk to berry bushes, according to new research from Oregon State University and Washington State University.

The study was published this week by scientists from Washington State University and Oregon State University in the Journal of Animal Ecology. WSU co-authors are graduate assistant Jennifer K. Fortin and Charles T. Robbins, professor in the WSU School of the Environment.

Read more about the research at WSU News

Other sources:

Terra Daily
Popular Science
Science Daily
Los Angeles Times
BBC Radio
Austrian Tribune

On Gaiser Pond: Middle-schoolers have been doing real science

Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens
Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens
Now dubbed “Gaiser Pond” by the school community, wetlands below the school are being studied and cleaned up thanks to two dedicated Gaiser Middle School science teachers and their students and environmental science graduate students from Washington State University Vancouver.

The Partners in Discovery GK-12 Project brought together environmental science graduate students from WSUV with middle school science teachers in several Clark County districts for real-world science projects using funds from an NSF grant.

Read more and see the video

Cleaning up the global aquarium trade

Brian Tissot
Brian Tissot

Marine ecologist Brian Tissot raises serious concerns about reef and ecosystem damage related to collecting and selling tropical fish and other sea creatures. Some public aquariums, retailers, and wholesalers are taking measures to improve their practices.

Could new insights from the aquarium hobby actually help reef-dependent humans and animals alike?

See the clownfish and read more about ending destructive practices and encouraging aquaculture