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Brian Charles Clark

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 …

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 …

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 …

Clock with microbes
Spring 2018

Do microbes dream of circadian sleep?

Anticipation is sweet. In anticipation of the blooming light, plants unfurl their leaves. For many marine creatures, rising to the sea surface as the moon rises is the anticipatory signal that food is available. In our gut, too, microbes anticipate dinnertime because microorganisms have internal clocks that sound the dinner bell.

“And here’s where it gets interesting,” says Hans Van Dongen, a professor of psychology at Washington State University Spokane and internationally known sleep expert.

“The biological clock those organisms have and the brain-based clock that humans have are not necessarily in sync. You notice this when you travel to another time zone. … » More …

Covers of Hip Hop Ain’t Dead: It’s Livin’ in the White House and Playing While White
Spring 2018

Hip Hop Ain’t Dead and Playing While White

Covers of Hip Hop Ain’t Dead: It’s Livin’ in the White House and Playing While White

Hip Hop Ain’t Dead: It’s Livin’ in the White House

Sanford Richmond ’11 PhD

Mill City Press: 2016

 

Playing While White: Privilege and Power On and Off the Field

David J. Leonard

University of Washington Press: 2017

 

During his undergraduate years at the University of Southern California, writes Sanford Richmond in Hip Hop Ain’t Dead, “I began to … » More …

Tom Haig in Delhi, India
Spring 2018

Wheeling new heights

It’s a clear, warm Sunday morning in Portland. Sandy Boulevard is nearly deserted and Tom Haig is cruising on his bicycle. He tucks into the teardrop position, thinking, This is awesome.

Suddenly, an elderly couple blow through a stop sign. Haig reacts quickly—but he’s pissed and, looking back at them, yells something unprintable. A second later, he returns his attention to his direction of travel. Yellow light! And a truck coming at him. Bicyclist and driver lock eyes. Both brake and Haig thinks, I’ve got this. That truck has enough clearance for me to lay it down and slide right under.

Then the unthinkable happens—his … » More …

Freedom Siyam
Spring 2018

Freedom Siyam ’00

It’s not easy being an educator of America’s future. “I work with over 150 adults every day who go home exhausted, because they are doing everything they can to reach and teach children,” says Freedom Siyam ’00.

Siyam is the principal of Balboa High School in San Francisco’s Excelsior district. “This area is the last bastion of the working class family in the city,” he says. All over the Bay Area, rents and home prices have skyrocketed as Silicon Valley has swollen and high-paid tech workers price people out of their neighborhoods.

“Regardless of what district, our families are educationally underserved,” Siyam says. “There’s … » More …

House of 8 Orchids cover
Winter 2017

House of 8 Orchids

House of 8 Orchids cover

James Thayer ’71

Thomas & Mercer: 2016

 

Master storyteller James Thayer turns in another winner with House of 8 Orchids. In Chungking in the early twentieth century, Chinese gangsters snatch the two sons of a diplomat—John, five, and his brother William, two—from the care of their amah.

Fast forward to the 1930s. War with Japan is heating up. The boys, now men, have been raised in the eponymous House to … » More …

Winter 2017

A mother’s microbial gift

Old assumptions about human breast milk are giving way to new thinking about microbes in milk and their role in children’s health and our immune systems.

 

It happened again, most recently at a conference in Prague. After she gave her talk, a scientist came up to Shelley McGuire, a pioneer exploring the microbial communities found in human breast milk, and told her, You don’t know how to take a sample. Your samples must have been contaminated. Human milk is sterile.

McGuire, a professor of human nutrition at Washington State University, knows differently: She’s seen the microbes with her own eyes. But she understands … » More …