Since the 1960s, when the defoliant Agent Orange was widely used in Vietnam, military, industry, and environmental groups have debated the toxicity of one of its ingredients, the chemical dioxin, and how it should be regulated.
But even if all the dioxin were eliminated from the planet, Washington State University researchers say its legacy would live on in the way it turns genes on and off in the descendants of people exposed over the past half century.
Writing in the journal PLoS ONE, biologist Michael Skinner and members of his lab say dioxin administered to pregnant rats resulted in a variety of reproductive problems and disease in subsequent generations. The first generation of rats had prostate disease, polycystic ovarian disease, and fewer ovarian follicles, the structures that contain eggs. To the surprise of Skinner and his colleagues, the third generation had even more dramatic incidences of ovarian disease and, in males, kidney disease. Continue story →
Thanks to grants from the Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment, thousands of undergraduates are benefiting from new or revised classes and teaching innovations at Washington State University.
“We are very pleased by the innovations developed by these skilled and thoughtful educators with the funding from the Smith grants,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education and dean of the University College. “They each made a great difference to academic experiences of the undergraduates in their classes and programs. And they serve as models to other faculty at WSU and nationally.”
The most recent six $5,000 grants allowed seven faculty members to implement their ideas to improve educational programs, including David Leonard (critical culture, gender, and race studies), Pamela Lee (fine arts), Allyson Beall (environment), and Tom Dickinson (physics and astronomy). They addressed either of two issues of importance at WSU today: improving student engagement in large classes and integrating environmental sustainability concepts into courses. Continue story →
A Washington State University researcher and two WSU graduates make a case in the journal Nature for a new type of agriculture that could restore the beleaguered soils of Africa and help the continent feed itself in the coming decades.
Their system, which they call “perenniation,” mixes food crops with trees and perennial plants, which live for two years or more.
Thousands of farmers are already trying variations of perenniation, which reduces the need for artificial inputs while improving soil and in some cases dramatically increasing yields. One woman quadrupled her corn crop, letting her raise pigs and goats and sell surplus grain for essentials and her grandchildren’s school fees.
WSU soil scientist John Reganold wrote the article with Jerry Glover (’97 B.S. soil science, ’98 B.A. philosophy, ’01 Ph.D. soil science) of the USAID Bureau for Food Security and Cindy Cox (’00 M.S. plant pathology/phytopathology) of the International Food Policy Research Institute. The article, “Plant perennials to save Africa’s soils,” appears in the Sept. 20 issue of Nature. Continue story →
Research by a Washington State University professor last summer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies (CAHS) has changed his teaching and his approach to culture and racism.
It also resulted in the recruiting of a lecturer who will speak in collaboration with WSU’s 2012 Common Reading Program in November.
C. Richard King, a professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies, spent a month at CAHS conducting research and incorporating themes of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism into his WSU courses. » More …
Forests hammered by windstorms, avalanches, and wildfires may appear blighted, but a Washington State University researcher says such disturbances can be key to maximizing an area’s biological diversity.
In fact, says Mark Swanson, land managers can alter their practices to enhance such diversity, creating areas with a wide variety of species, including rare and endangered plants and animals.
“The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, for example, has created very diverse post-eruption conditions, and has some of the highest plant and animal diversity in the western Cascades range,” says Mark Swanson, an assistant professor of landscape ecology and silviculture in Washington State University’s School of the Environment.
Swanson, who has studied disturbed areas on Mount St. Helens and around western North America, presents his findings this week at the national convention of the Ecological Society of America in Portland. » More …