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Blending music, art, children’s theater

Cain-Kellogg, (c) News TribuneWhat do the ABC’s have in common with a treble clef? How about a children’s theater production and creative problem-solving? These questions are not riddles, says Becky Cain-Kellogg ’91, owner of the Puyallup Children’s Theater and Music Academy.

Cain-Kellogg opened the theater in Puyallup seven years ago, although she has taught music and theater for nearly 30 years. During that time, Cain-Kellogg also worked as an arts integration specialist, combining music and the arts with subjects such as math and history in schools.

Research says that children who are involved with music and theater early on gain lifelong skills—in part because there are so many aspects involved with learning and performing. » More …

The people’s plants

hat woven from long leavesThe Dominican boy had a leaf draped over his head, secured with a length of vine. Anthropologist Marsha Quinlan was intrigued.

“I asked him, ‘Is that a hat?’” she recalls. “And he explained that, no, he woke up with a headache and the leaf makes your head feel better. And I thought that was so cool!”

Quinlan was a graduate student at the time, on her first trip to the Caribbean island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). And that was the moment she realized she had to delve further into ethnobotany. » More …

Where the trouble began

book cover and author portrait image“Fiction is a document of trouble,” says novelist James Thayer ’71. The trouble began for Thayer as a teenager reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula on his father’s wheat farm in Almira.

“The narrator sees the Count leap to a window frame—and then crawl down the exterior of the castle wall like a lizard!” Thayer exclaims. “That scene scared me to death! It was a revelation as to the power of fiction.”

Now, decades later, the Seattle-based author of 14 novels teaches fiction writing through the University of Washington’s continuing education program. » More …

Exodus: Climate and the movement of the people

footprints sandVast swaths of forests in western North America are dead or dying, killed by pine bark beetle. The beetles have been there all along, but prolonged droughts reduced the trees’ ability to defend themselves from the inner bark-munching bugs.

The western slopes of the Sierra Nevada range in California have been especially hard hit by the depredation, just as people who made money in Silicon Valley sought to move their families out of the choked cities and up into the beautiful mountain forests. Now, to mitigate risk of catastrophic fire and the further spread of pests such as bark beetle, landowners must cut down dying and dead trees—the forests that were the very reason they moved there in the first place. » More …

WSU scientists help detect gravitational waves for third time

LIGO Hanford from the airThree billion years ago in a distant galaxy, two massive black holes slammed together, merged into one and sent space–time vibrations, known as gravitational waves, shooting out into the universe.

The waves passed through Earth and were detected early this year by an international team of scientists, including WSU physicists Sukanta Bose, Bernard Hall and Nairwita Mazumder.

The newfound black hole, first reported in the journal Physical Review Letters in June, has a mass about 49 times that of the sun. The collision that produced it released more power in an instant than is radiated by all the stars and galaxies in the universe at any moment.  » More …

Off the beaten path

monarch butterfly on yellow plant“The monarchs were a big surprise for me,” says Rod Sayler. “It’s the first time I’ve seen them at WSU except for fly-bys. I thought, ‘Wow, it finally happened!’”

Sayler, an unabashed naturalist known for his signature straw hat, is project director for the WSU arboretum and an associate professor in the School of the Environment. In an age of climate specialists and policy wonks, Sayler revels in the down-to-earth study of nature in all its intricate bounty.

For the last nine years, he and his colleagues have painstakingly transformed a wedge of farmland into a botanical garden alive with wildflowers, native bees, meadowlarks, amphibians, rabbits, deer, and more. It’s a campus dream over a century in the making, says Sayler, one that finally came to fruition in 2008.

» More …

WSU-led cultural preservation initiative wins exemplary service award

The Society of American Archivists conferred its Council Exemplary Service Award to the Sustainable Heritage Network, a WSU-led project for digital preservation of cultural heritage managed by the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation.

Read more at WSU News >>

Innovative WSU approach ignites survey industry, earns national award

Winners holding plaqueWSU researchers received a national award for designing a new survey method that is now used in censuses around the world.

WSU Regents Professor Don Dillman and a team of former graduate students were honored with the Warren J. Mitofsky Innovators Award from the American Association for Public Opinion Research. The last award was granted in 2015 to Nate Silver, creator of FiveThirtyEight , the statistics-based news site.

The WSU team’s innovation is overcoming the negative effects that modern communication trends have on public opinion survey results by turning to an old-school source: postal mail.  » More …

WSU developing innovative technology to improve policing, public safety

As the nation grapples with policing and security issues, criminal justice experts at WSU are developing innovative technology to improve police–community relations, officer training and public safety.

Researchers in the new Complex Social Interaction laboratory at WSU are using body-worn cameras and advanced scientific tools and techniques—such as data analytics, biometrics and machine learning—to examine the complex factors that shape interactions between police and community members. » More …

WSU professor turns world travel into art, education, research, service

Malaysia to Morocco, New Mexico to the Netherlands—WSU fine arts professor Dennis DeHart is globetrotting with a purpose, weaving his world travels into art, education, research and community service.

An interdisciplinary artist and photographer, DeHart is on one-year sabbatical from teaching at WSU to work on three distinct projects, including an innovative, arts-based examination of water rights issues in the U.S. and abroad. Discrete aspects of place and time figure prominently into each project. » More …