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Michelle Gordon riding horse Mac
Fall 2018

Back in the saddles

Winding through barren April wheat fields, my 4Runner rumbles down a gravel backroad heading toward the small farming town of Colton. Rounding the corner, I spot a sign for the Pat Weber ranch and follow their lane to the barn.

Near the corral, a young woman in a riding helmet turns and waves. Michelle Gordon, Washington State University junior and president of the recently revived WSU Equestrian Team, is here along with several other students for lessons with English riding coach Laura Bagby Moore ’08.

“I’ve known Laura most of my life,” says Gordon as she brushes a bay gelding named Mac. “We’re both … » More …

Breaking pumpkin thumb - Getty Images
Fall 2018

The physics of fall

With murmurs and pointing, the crowd watches as a face and then hands—holding a large object—appear in the twelfth-story window of WSU’s Webster Physical Sciences Building.

On the ground, Butch T. Cougar begins a countdown: five, four, three, two… At one, the hands release a 10-pound, half-frozen pumpkin that rockets to the courtyard, exploding in a confetti-bomb of cheers, screams, and a thousand gooey fragments.

Strains of Galileo Galileo from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” fill the plaza and down comes another pumpkin, then another and another. So begins that nerdy-fun Dad’s Weekend tradition—the Pumpkin Drop.

“Throwing out pumpkins is kind of a rush,” says … » More …

Fall 2018

Returns on education

Damien Pattenaude went back to his old school in Renton when there was a need. Now he wants to see even more kids return to Renton classrooms as teachers, just as he did.

It has become an even more urgent concern for Pattenaude (’99, ’05 MA, ’16 EdD) now that he is superintendent of the growing Renton School District. Like other school administrators across Washington and the country, he faces a teacher shortage, especially in special education, math, and sciences. Schools also need more diversity among teachers, to better represent the state’s changing population.

Although teacher shortages are not new, the problem is accelerating» More …

Sunday breakfast at Rico's Public House with James F. Short on May 6, 2018, one week before he passed. (J. Michael Short)
Fall 2018

James F. Short Jr. 1924-2018

I am privileged to have known Jim Short and to have worked with and learned from him. When we met in 2000, Jim (’51 PhD, University of Chicago) recently had become professor emeritus of sociology at Washington State University and was beginning to “unwind” after an illustrious career spanning half a century. I was a graduate student in my second year of the doctoral program and had just learned that my first mentor would be departing WSU for what were very understandable personal reasons. I am forever indebted to him for walking me three doors down the hall to introduce me to Jim.

» More …

Scripting Romance thumb
Fall 2018

Rescripting gender roles

Sex is everywhere, researchers Stacey Hust and Kathleen Rodgers point out, but, strangely, we get very nervous talking about it—especially with our adolescent children.

That’s a concern to the two Washington State University collaborators, who just published a book, Scripting Adolescent Romance: Adolescents Talk about Romantic Relationships and Media’s Sexual Scripts, that examines the power of media, so chock full of sex and violence, to shape the gender roles of children and adolescents in ways that last a lifetime.

Scripting Adolescent Romance book cover

So powerful are the … » More …

Illustration of baseball as atom nucleus
Summer 2018

Physics at the bat

Today’s baseball game, brought to you by Physics Unlimited, is a blockbuster contest between the famous Mathematical Physicists and Washington State University’s own Oblique Collisions.

As the Oblique Collisions take the field, Ernest Rutherford, the renowned English physicist, is first up for the Mathematical Physicists. Better known outside physics circles for his cricketing skills, Rutherford is quite the hitter, though usually of particles much smaller than baseballs.

Indeed, in describing the collision of an alpha particle—better known as the nucleus of a helium atom, two protons and two massive neutrons—with a gold atom, Rutherford had this to say: “It was as if you fired a … » More …

Fire threatens horses in pen during California fires. Photo Eric Thayer
Summer 2018

Bug out!

A scrawled note was stuck to the door of the clinic. “All animals left here have died,” it said. “We have buried them for you. I have no way of expressing my grief.” The note was signed by the vet whose clinic was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

That note is a sad reminder that being prepared for a disaster is key to surviving storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and whatever else might come crashing down upon us—and our animals.

That’s why Cynthia Faux says, “If I have 15 minutes to evacuate in front of a fast-moving fire, I don’t want to spend 10 of those looking … » More …

A WSU student takes a virtual trip to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Photo Robert Hubner
Summer 2018

Virtually yours

How do you walk through a building in Atlanta when you’re in a classroom in Pullman?

If you can’t be there physically, virtual reality can deliver a new level of engagement, whether it’s watching Shaun White’s snowboard whoosh inches from your head, or working collaboratively on construction projects with students from Georgia.

Virtual reality is also a rapidly growing business. There were an estimated seven million VR headsets in 2016, which is expected to balloon to 47 million by 2020.

That acceleration has pushed companies like Intel to ramp up their VR offerings, including the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The VR technology … » More …

Darwin's finches illustration
Summer 2018

Another look at Darwin’s finches

Darwin developed key aspects of his theory of evolution while pondering finches from the Galapagos Islands. It’s only fitting that reproductive biologist Michael Skinner would choose those same islands to propose a Lamarckian idea—that environment can directly impact inheritance of physical traits.

In this case, the process is driven by epigenetics, he says. “If we think about evolution, we can’t simply think of genetics. We also need to think about epigenetics.”

According to Skinner, epigenetic mutations occur 1,000 times more frequently than do genetic mutations and could help explain why new species emerge more often than expected.

“The reason epimutations exist might be to dramatically … » More …

Man kissing mirror
Summer 2018

Fly on the Wall

 

Podcasts by Squeak Meisel

squeakmeisel.com

 

If you can’t come to the artist, the artist will come to you, thanks to a series of podcasts produced by Washington State University Fine Arts department chair Squeak Meisel.

Called Fly on the Wall, the artists interviewed on Meisel’s podcast have shown their work at some of the biggest venues in the world, such as the Venice Biennial. They come to the Pullman campus, teach for a few days, work one-on-one with undergraduate and graduate students, and give a public lecture.

But Meisel realizes that not everyone has time or ability to … » More …