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College of Arts and Sciences

Research and Scholarship

Innovation and advancements in knowledge fuel social and economic growth across Washington state, the nation, and the world. CAS faculty experts are engaged in a wide range of endeavors, from improving health care to advancing nutrition, from building sustainable societies to bolstering national security, from improving cultural understanding to developing new materials for industry.

Highlights Include:

A world leader in radiochemistry

Led by internationally recognized researchers and faculty, Washington State University has one of the nation’s largest radiochemistry research and education programs. WSU scientists are working to develop creative solutions to global challenges in radioecology, nuclear energy, nuclear medicine and nuclear policy.

Breakthrough study links sleep loss, decision disasters

WSU psychologists and sleep researchers created the first-ever laboratory experiment that simulates how sleep loss affects critical aspects of decision making in high-stakes, real-world situations. Their breakthrough work provides a new understanding of how going without sleep for long periods can lead doctors, first responders, military personnel, and others in crisis situations to make catastrophic decisions. Recent studies also indicate a genetic influence in cognitive flexibility.

Tasmanian devils evolving to resist cancer

Genomic studies by Andrew Storfer, professor of biology, and an international team of scientists suggests some Tasmanian devil populations are evolving genetic resistance to devil facial tumor disease that could help the species avoid extinction. With support from a $2.3 million NIH grant, Storfer is looking for key mutations that appear to be responsible for an important immune response to the disease.

Charting wealth inequality across millennia

In the largest study of its kind, anthropologist Tim Kohler and his colleagues saw disparities in the wealth of ancient humans mount with the rise of agriculture, specifically the domestication of plants and large animals, and increased social organization. Their findings, published in the journal Nature, have profound implications for contemporary society, as inequality repeatedly lead to social disruption, even collapse.

Criminologist takes on regional justice reform

Jacqueline van Wormer, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology, is steering the first major steps in a comprehensive overhaul of the way police, courts, judges and detention centers work together. In her unique role as participatory evaluator for the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council, van Wormer aims to make the system more effective and efficient, with emphasis on developing alternatives to incarceration and providing tools to help offenders turn their lives around.

Calculating against cholera

Computational models designed by Xueying (Snow) Wang, assistant professor of mathematics, provide an improved predictive framework for anticipating disease outbreaks and planning for interventions.

New technology to detect pathogen

Using environmental DNA (eDNA) technology that detects telltale bits of genetic material living creatures shed into their environment, environmental scientist Caren Goldbeg and her team demonstrating how it can help save amphibian and reptiles by providing early identification of a deadly pathogen.

A surge in “dark money”

Political scientist Travis Ridout is working to increase the transparency of the electoral process through the Wesleyan Media Project, a nonpartisan initiative to comprehensively track and analyze political ads run by candidates, parties, and special interest groups.

Faculty Interests

Visit our academic unit websites for more information about faculty research, scholarship, and creative interests.