Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Biology

Frog in Honduras. Photo Travis King
Spring 2018

Gallery: Wildlife of Honduras

WSU environmental biology doctoral student Travis King joined a team of biologists in 2017 to monitor wildlife in the remote region of La Mosquitia in Honduras, home to the newly-discovery “City of the Lost Monkey God.”

Travis and his colleagues in Conservation International and the Honduran government used motion-activated camera traps, hair collecting traps, and other methods to identify the wild animals in this untamed region. Below are some of the images that King brought back.

 

Read more about Travis and his research in “To catch a cat.”

Omar Cornejo and Joanna Kelley in their WSU lab
Spring 2018

It’s in the genes

When Omar Cornejo got his genomic analysis back from 23andMe, he and his wife, fellow population geneticist Joanna Kelley, were both a bit surprised and vindicated. Venezuelan, Cornejo expected to see the alleles, or variations of a gene, from Native American, western European, and North African populations. But he was unaware that his family’s deep history also included ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa.

That just goes to show the importance of broadly sampling the genome, says Kelley. “The lesson is that if you just look at the mitochondria, you’d assume this person is from Africa. But if you look at just the Y chromosome, you’d assume … » More …

Spring 2018

What dreams may come

If Shakespeare lived today, the playwright would surely be prescribed a sleep study. With his many references to sleep walking, apnea, insomnia, and nightmares, you can almost see the baggy-eyed bard sitting in his nightcap writing by candlelight.

O sleep, gentle sleep! Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down?he bemoans in Henry IV, Part 2.

It’s a familiar lament to all those who have lain awake yearning for sleep’s healing balm. But there the comparison ends.

While Shakespeare’s restless, seventeenth-century nights were lit with a single amber flame, today’s insomniacs are usually staring at … » More …

Cell illustration
Spring 2018

Gaining on muscle loss

Cancer, says Dan Rodgers, is a hellish parade of horribleness.

Cancerous cells multiply aggressively, interfering with the normal function of healthy organs. Tumors secrete hormones and other chemicals that exploit the body’s own defenses to the cancer’s advantage. Your body knows something is wrong, so stress hormones are released in an effort to inhibit growth processes and channel nutrients to the brain.

Deprived of resources, muscles begin to atrophy. Washington State University muscle biologist Rodgers, together with colleagues at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, investigated treatments for tumor-induced muscle wasting called cancer cachexia. The research was so promising that Rodgers … » More …

Cougar head on camera
Spring 2018

Gallery: Central Washington wildlife caught on camera

Using over 400 motion-activated camera traps, Washington State University wildlife biologist Daniel Thornton and his graduate students Travis King and Arthur Scully searched for the rare and elusive lynx in the Kettle Mountains and north Cascades of central Washington.

An assistant professor in the School of Environmental Science, Thornton led the largest lynx camera survey ever done in the state in 2016. The researchers found the first photographic evidence of a lynx in the Kettles in nearly two decades.

Read more about Thornton’s research on lynx. You can also read about Travis King and his work in both Washington and Central America in “» More …

Winter 2017

Reconsidering health

Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates proposed that four basic personalities were driven by excess or lack of bodily fluids, the “humors.” Discredited by biochemistry, we may consider the idea humorous, but Hippocrates’ theories began a centuries-long consideration of temperaments and personality in psychology and philosophy.

Other ideas of human health were first spurned and then accepted. Germ theory, the thought that many diseases are caused by microorganisms, was treated with disdain when it was proposed in the sixteenth century. It didn’t receive its due until nineteenth-century experiments by cholera researcher John Snow and chemist Louis Pasteur, among others, proved germ theory’s validity.

Even today we continue … » More …

Winter 2017

Getting a new perspective on stress

Humans generally think of themselves as highly evolved creatures, but when it comes to stress, our fear response is as primitive as the tiny beasts that fled predators 500 million years ago. Though lifesaving, this fight-or-flight system is also triggered by modern concerns such as political Facebook posts or being stuck in traffic. Over time, psychological stress can build into an internal time bomb.

While some suggest humans have outgrown their stress system, studies show there are ways to teach that old brain new tricks, helping to calm the angst that comes with contemporary living.

Ryan McLaughlin, assistant professor in the Department of Integrative … » More …

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen twins dolls by Mattel. Staff photoillustration
Winter 2017

Seeing double

The Washington State Twin Registry is a powerful aid in promoting better health.

 

Glen Duncan is an outlier in an obesogenic environment. While he’s fit and trim, two in three Americans carry too much weight for their own good and are largely sedentary during work and leisure time. It would help if he had a twin to compare himself with. As it is, he studies other twins in the hope of teasing out why some people are drawn to healthy behavior, others not.

Duncan has long been a runner, from high school races to weekend 10Ks. For the past ten years he has practiced … » More …