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Earth Sciences

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 …

Jaguar
Spring 2018

To catch a cat

Trekking through one of the largest unexplored rainforests in the world, La Mosquitia in Honduras, Travis King set up traps last spring to catch jaguars—or whatever other animal came into range of the cameras.

King, an environmental science graduate student at Washington State University, was one of twelve biologists conducting the first biological survey of the area known as La Ciudad Blanca or the Lost City of the Monkey God, astounding ruins first identified in 2012.

It was already familiar work for King, who has used remote-sensing camera traps and other methods to identify the behavior and distribution of elusive big cats … » 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 …

Microbes in soil
Winter 2017

The microbe whisperers

Tarah Sullivan is fiercely insistent that we are all interconnected. The Washington State University soil microbiologist and ecologist says that understanding those connections is key to a healthy future.

“I know it sounds a little hokey,” the mother of two daughters apologizes without backing down: “Microorganisms connect everything everyday in every way. We absolutely could not survive on the planet without active and healthy microbiomes, in humans and in the environment.”

Sullivan’s work focuses on how microbial communities in soil impact heavy metal biogeochemistry. Many metals are important micronutrients for both plants and animals—but too much of a good thing can make plants sick. … » More …

Clouds over Hood Canal
Fall 2017

Streaming views

Over 500 streams and rivers (and thousands of other inflows) enter Puget Sound. Here are four that you can view close-up as they make their way into the second largest estuary in the United States.

Clear Creek

Clear Creek in Kitsap County is a major stream system flowing into Dyes Inlet at Silverdale. It had, over years agricultural and then urban development, lost its floodplain, resulting in increased flooding, erosion of roads and trails, and degradation of salmon populations. The Clear Creek restoration project removed 1,500 feet of an existing road, replaced and upgraded two aging culverts, created 500 feet of new stream channel … » More …