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Microhabitats: Potential for oil cleanup, extraterrestrial life

Dirk Schulze-Makuch

Results from an environmental study of the world’s largest asphalt lake shine new light on how life on Earth can survive in even the most inhospitable environments.

Scientists already knew that microbes can thrive at the boundary where water and oil meet, but the discovery at Pitch Lake on the Caribbean island of Trinidad that they can live within the oil and were found to be actively degrading the oil opens up new possibilities for using them to clean up spills.

“We discovered that there are additional habitats where we have not looked at where life can occur and thrive,” says Dirk Schulze-Makuch, co-author of the study and a professor in the WSU School of the Environment.

The wiliness of these microbes suggests that life on other planets — at least at the microscopic level — may not be so far-fetched after all.

Read more about the research, results, and possibilities:

WSU News
Science Magazine
Discover Magazine
The Daily Galaxy
China Topix
The Times of India
Mother Nature Network
Photos: Live Science



45 undergraduates named top researchers in SURCA competition

SURCA 2014 Applied Sciences Winners
SURCA 2014 Applied Sciences Winners

Thirty-nine awards were presented recently to 45 WSU students—many in the College of Arts and Sciences—at the third annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) 2014.

The work of 192 students University-wide was detailed in 11 oral and 145 poster presentations open to faculty, staff, students, and guests. More than 100 judges evaluated the presentations. The judges included WSU emeriti faculty and retirees, faculty, staff, and post-doctoral students as well as experts from companies outside of WSU.

While many students from urban campuses traveled to participate, SURCA was made available to two place-bound students thanks to web conferencing provided by the Global Campus. A Pullman student studying abroad in Mexico and a WSU Vancouver student who was unable to attend SURCA in person talked “live” to their judges who were in the senior ballroom of the Compton Union Building.

More about the competition and list of winners

WSU students take aim at the Spokane River

This fall, 16 WSU students are seeking ways to reduce, and hopefully prevent, pollution in the Spokane River. Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences’ student ambassador program, the Save the Spokane research challenge “is a way for students from different majors to collaborate,” says Devon Seymour, a senior studying French and global politics and organizer of the project.

Listen to the Public News Service podcast and learn more

Mock Career Fair preps Cougs for jobs

Arlene Parkay
Arlene Parkay

Students of the College of Arts and Sciences will get the opportunity to make their degrees more marketable to outside industries at the Mock Career Fair this evening.

Employers such as the City of Pullman, Schweitzer Engineering Labs and Pullman Regional Hospital will be present at the Mock Career Fair to practice interviews with students, said Arlene Parkay, academic coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Students can learn how to better market themselves with real employers,” said Parkay. “It’s a practice, but some are looking to hire.”

Read more about the mock career fair

Trust in leaders, sense of belonging stir people to safeguard common goods, analysis shows

Craig Parks
Craig Parks

Psychological researcher Craig Parks and his co-authors emphasize the urgent need to broaden thoughtful use of public goods, noting that charitable contributions are at historic lows, fossil fuel reserves are shrinking, and climate change threatens the planet’s future.

Read more here

Other sources:
Science Blog
Health Canal