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How does a river breathe? The answer could lead to a better understanding of global carbon cycle

Take a deep breath. Pay attention to how air moves from your nose to your throat before filling your lungs with oxygen. As you exhale your breath, a mix of oxygen and carbon dioxide leaves your nose and mouth. Did you know that streams and rivers “breathe” in a similar way?

One of the drivers behind understanding how streams and rivers breathe is a set of processes known as respiration—a collection of chemical reactions that together determine how much carbon stays put and how much enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

It’s important to understand whether water or sediment in rivers and streams has more respiration. To answer this, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory partnered with researchers at Washington State University and the University of Montana. The team found that in the Columbia River, most respiration is done by organisms in the water. This is likely because the Columbia River contains a lot of water in which respiration can happen.

Research has produced models and data that can help predict how to protect the nation’s streams and rivers and the communities that depend on them. The work is published in the journal Frontiers in Water. Co-authors include PNNL earth scientist James Stegen, an affiliate faculty member in the School of the Environment.

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Smart Water Magazine

Meet the ice worm, one of the most mysterious creatures in the world

When Peter Wimberger of the University of Puget Sound was first told about ice worms, he thought that his colleagues were pranking him. Imagine his surprise when he learned that not only are these creatures real, they are full of mysteries that if solved, could help answer one of the biggest questions in science.

There are millions of these animals across the world and yet despite their abundance, they have barely been studied, with scientists treating them as a mere curiosity. Scott Hotaling, a glacier biologist [at Utah State University and a former postdoctoral researcher at] Washington State University, and his colleague Peter Wimberger have been studying ice worms for several years.

“There are more mysteries than there are solved things with ice worms”, says Hotaling.

Unlike humans, who lose energy when they are in a cold environment, ice worms thrive in the cold and their energy levels go up when they are subjected to low temperatures. They live comfortably at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), but if temperatures dip slightly below that, they die.

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‘It’s not enough to just be nice’

A Washington State University (WSU) study found it’s not enough for a teacher to be nice. What students really crave is an instructor who thinks they could improve.

The idea of a “growth mindset” compared to a “fixed mindset” has been around for quite some time. This study found that a teachers’ growth mindset appears more important than warmth.

Makita White, a psychology Ph.D. candidate at WSU [and] the lead author for the study, and Elizabeth Canning, assistant professor of psychology, said they found students responded well to a warm and friendly instructor, but what they really craved is an instructor who thought they could improve.

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Mattis selected to receive Foley Distinguished Public Service award

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and four–star Marine Corps General James Mattis will be the inaugural recipient of the Thomas S. Foley Award for Distinguished Public Service. The new award will be given annually by the Foley Institute to individuals who have demonstrated integrity, courage and a commitment to democratic values in public service, according to a news release.

Mattis enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1969 and participated in tours in Afghanistan and Iraq before retiring from active service in 2013. He served as U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2017 to 2019 under President Donald Trump before resigning his post in protest when Trump announced he would pull U.S. forces out of Syria.

“We wanted somebody with a national reputation, whose life was dedicated to public service, but we also wanted somebody like Tom Foley with local roots to be the inaugural recipient,” said Foley Institute Director Cornell Clayton. “Mattis not only has local roots, but dedicated his entire career to public service and personified the values of Foley and the Foley Institute, courage, bipartisanship, integrity and honor.”

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The Spokesman-Review
WSU Insider

Toxicant Exposures Show Health Effects Across Generations

While exposure to a single substance like DDT has been shown to create inherited disease susceptibility, a recent study in animals found exposure to multiple different toxicants across generations can amplify those health problems.

In the study, published in the journal Environmental Epigenetics, the researchers exposed an initial generation of pregnant rats to a common fungicide, then their progeny to jet fuel, and the following generation to DDT. When those rats were then bred out to a fifth unexposed generation, the incidence of obesity as well as kidney and prostate diseases in those animals were compounded, rising by as much as 70%.

The researchers also found that their epigenetics, molecular processes independent of DNA that influence gene expression, were also greatly altered.

“We looked at multiple-generation exposures because these types of things are going on routinely, and previous research has only looked at single exposures,” says Michael Skinner, a Washington State University biology professor and the study’s corresponding author. “We found that if multiple generations get different exposures, then eventually there’s an amplification or compounded effect on some diseases.”

The study did show that for other diseases, those associated with the ovaries and the testes, the incidence rose in the first generation of progeny but appeared to plateau with the additional generational exposures.

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Good Men Project