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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 …

Iraqi students in Pullman
Spring 2018

No barriers to a better world

Eman Ibrahim started volunteering in Iraq’s first cancer support center in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil when she was 18, providing psychological support and reading to patients. It was satisfying work for the energetic young woman, if heart-wrenching at times.

Yet, when the 21-year-old Kurdish medical student from Hawler Medical University became head of the Erbil Hub center last year, she wanted to do even more to help—and that meant learning new ideas. Last July, she got her opportunity with the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program.

The highly competitive scholarship program brings 100 Iraqi college students to the United States for … » More …

Twitter bird illustration
Spring 2018

Truth or consequences

Fake news nearly started a war between Qatar and its neighbors in 2017. In Pakistan, a highly placed official bought into a fake news story warning that Israel was going to destroy Pakistan, and tweeted a warning at Israel that his country, too, was a nuclear power. And in Washington, D.C., an armed vigilante burst into a pizzeria and fired three shots, thinking he was bringing down a sex-slave ring.

While news has never been neutral, something has changed: Information has become weaponized. What’s changed, says Washington State University communications professor Doug Hindman, is that the marketplace of ideas has broken down under the … » More …

Illustration of paper with question mark
Spring 2018

How to become information literate?

It takes four moves and a habit

Michael Caulfield’s approach to information literacy is simple. He argues that we should teach students to be fact checkers instead of rhetoricians. In rhetoric, readers spend a great deal of time reading closely, analyzing syntax and word choice for tone. Fact checking, though, is quick, involving only “four moves and a habit,” Caulfield, director of networked and blended learning at WSU Vancouver, says. A recent Stanford University study supports the idea that a fact-checking strategy is superior to close reading.

Look for previous work. When fact-checking a particular claim, the quickest, simplest thing to do is to … » 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 …

Spring 2018

Communities for the golden age

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made

(From poem Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning)

It’s never easy to find a new home.

Just ask Barbara Nelson, a former account manager from Seattle. When her husband passed away, she moved from the century-old house where they had lived for 48 years. She has piercing eyes and a strong voice, but it trembles slightly as she explains: “It was so traumatic. After the estate sale, I took five things out of that house and walked away. I felt like I … » More …

Spring 2018

Fires burned, cauldrons bubble

In the embers of an ancient winter day, a Swedish scout scrambles up the hill of snow-covered boulders, hurrying over the slippery ground between them along a narrow path. His panting breath trails after him until he stumbles through the castle gate gasping, “Vandals on the riverbank! Bandits to the east!”

The heavy palisade slams shut behind him as men rush to position along a glinting rock wall. From 150 feet above the valley floor, they watch as silhouettes begin scaling the boulders below. With a signal, arrows and stones rain down upon them, yet the marauders advance, dragging their weapons or clenching them in … » More …

Spring 2018

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art/WSU

Clad in unique crimson mirrored glass tiles, the new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art/WSU will open April 6, 2018, across from the CUB.

The 10,000-square-foot building has six exhibition spaces, which will debut with fiber constructions from Marie Watt, an interactive sound sculpture by Trimpin, ceramics by Jeffry Mitchell, video from the True Collection, and portraiture from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation. The opening will also feature works from the museum’s permanent collection titled Hearts: Selections from the Jim Dine Print Collection.

Designed by architect Jim Olson of Olson-Kundig, the new museum offers … » More …

Prion protein
Winter 2017

Unraveling a curious killer

In the ghoulish world of infectious disease agents, prions might well be the zombies. Unlike bacteria and viruses, prions have no DNA, yet still manage to replicate. Nearly indestructible themselves, the tiny agents slowly ravage the brains of their victims in an infection that is always fatal.

Prions were the culprit behind the mad cow disease outbreak in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And today, they’re driving the epidemic of chronic wasting disease (CWD) spreading rapidly through deer and elk across North America.

For nearly thirty years, Don Knowles ’88 PhD has bravely investigated these strange and elusive infectious particles. When asked if he … » More …