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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences science and technology

Getting the ratio right

A polar bear eating lard.A high protein diet appears linked to kidney disease and shortened lifespans for captive polar bears, a relationship similarly suspected in humans, according to a review led by WSU wildlife biologist Charlie Robbins.

“Zoos made some assumptions in the past about the nutritional requirements of polar bears because their diet is almost exclusively » More …

Concurrent heat waves becoming more frequent

Bright orange sunset silhouetting water tower on WSU Pullman campus. In a study of climate data from 1979 to 2019, WSU environmental researchers found the number of large-area heatwaves occurring simultaneously in the mid- to high-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere was seven times greater in the 2010s than in the 1980s.

On average, there were concurrent heatwaves on 143 days each year of the 2010s—almost every day of the 153 days of the warm months of May through » More …

Melting sea ice forces polar bears to travel farther for food

Two polar bears on a snowy landscape.In recent years, polar bears in the Beaufort Sea have had to travel far outside of their traditional arctic hunting grounds which has contributed to an almost 30% decrease in their population.

“Having to travel farther means these bears are expending more energy which can threaten their survival,” said Anthony Pagano, a postdoctoral researcher in WSU’s School of the Environment and lead author of » More …

Studying black holes with the new Webb telescope

James Webb Space Telescope Mirror Seen in Full Bloom.Vivienne Baldassare, a WSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is part of a research team that will use NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope to determine if distant star clusters and small galaxies have black holes at their center, similar to larger galaxies such as the Milky Way.

In addition to being the largest telescope ever sent to space—upon reaching orbit the James Webb will unfold to the size of a tennis court—the $10 billion successor to the Hubble Telescope is 100 times more powerful and » More …

$1.12M grant to help increase math teacher diversity

Silhouette of a person writing on a white board. William Hall, assistant professor of mathematics, knows the tremendous impact high school math teachers can have on how students learn to think and reason quantitatively, and that includes matters of civics, social justice, and fairness.

“It is not always clear that you can be passionate about those ideas and use a career in teaching high school mathematics to explore them further and serve your community at the same time,” he said. » More …

Canada lynx disappearing from Washington state

Lynx traveling on a forest path.Canada lynx are losing ground in Washington state, even as federal officials are taking steps to remove the species’ threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.

A massive monitoring study led by Washington State University researchers found lynx on only about 20% of its potential habitat. The results paint an alarming picture not only for » More …

Wildfire changes songbird plumage

Red backed fairywren.Fire can put a tropical songbird’s sex life on ice.

Following habitat-destroying wildfires in Australia, a team of researchers led by WSU biology doctoral student Jordan Boersma found that many male red-backed fairywrens failed to molt into their red-and-black ornamental plumage, making them less attractive to potential mates. They also had lowered circulating testosterone, which has been associated with their showy feathers. » More …

New “soft X-ray” method for smart nanocarrier medicine

illustration of molecular bonds illuminated by colorful xrays. in the foreground a bond is highlighted in green.Before the huge potential of tiny nanocarriers for highly targeted drug delivery and environmental clean-up can be realized, scientists first need to be able to see them.

““We have developed a new technique to look at nanocarrier internal structure, chemistry, and environmental behavior without any labeling at all—a new capability that up to now has not been possible,” said WSU physicist Brian Collins. “With this new » More …

Alumnus recognized for superconductor advancements

Ranga Dias.A breakthrough in superconductivity has landed a WSU physics graduate in the latest Time Magazine list of top innovators.

Ranga Dias (’13 PhD) has been named one of 19 innovation leaders in the 2021 Time100 Next list, which highlights emerging leaders shaping the future. His work to develop a room temperature superconductor represents a significant advancement in the field, with wide-ranging applications from transportation to medical imaging, and even hover boards. » More …

Mt. St. Helens: next generation of research

Mount St. Helens.When Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, it leveled more than 230 square miles of forest, but it also opened a rare scientific opportunity to study how an ecosystem responds after an extreme disturbance.

WSU ecologists John Bishop and Mark Swanson have been involved in Mount St. Helens long-term research for decades and are preparing for the next generation of work. They each focus on different areas affected by the blast. No matter how severe the damage on the landscape, life has found a way to return and brought valuable » More …