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Brian Charles Clark

Hat made from leaves
Fall 2017

The people’s plants

The Dominican boy had a leaf draped over his head, secured with a length of vine. Anthropologist Marsha Quinlan was intrigued.

“I asked him, ‘Is that a hat?’” she recalls. “And he explained that, no, he woke up with a headache and the leaf makes your head feel better. And I thought that was so cool!”

Quinlan was a graduate student at the time, on her first trip to the Caribbean island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). And that was the moment she realized she had to delve further into ethnobotany.

How people around the world use plants for food, … » More …

Fall 2017

Plant for the future

Somewhere in the dryland wilds of eastern Washington, Michael Neff and his wife stop the car.

“I’ve always wanted to hike these dunes,” he says to her. “I could not believe the grasses that were stabilizing those dunes!” Neff says later. He refuses to identify where, exactly, the dunes in question are located. “It’s those little pockets of diversity that we need to identify and preserve,” he explains, almost—but not quite—apologetic.

Trained as a botanist and now a professor of molecular biology at Washington State University, Neff expands on why this is important: “If we’re going to be resilient in the face of climate … » More …

Fall 2017

Where the trouble began

“Fiction is a document of trouble,” says novelist James Thayer ’71. The trouble began for Thayer as a teenager reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula on his father’s wheat farm in Almira.

“The narrator sees the Count leap to a window frame—and then crawl down the exterior of the castle wall like a lizard!” Thayer exclaims. “That scene scared me to death! It was a revelation as to the power of fiction.”

Now, decades later, the Seattle-based author of 14 novels teaches fiction writing through the University of Washington’s continuing education program.

“The main thing that keeps people from writing a novel is that it … » More …

cover of How Plants Work
Summer 2017

How Plants Work

Cover of How Plants Work

Linda Chalker-Scott

Timber Press: 2015

 

Anyone interested in how plants do what they do will enjoy How Plants Work. Washington State University associate professor of horticulture Linda Chalker-Scott has brought the essentials of plant science together and made them entertaining for gardeners and the otherwise curious.

Chalker-Scott digs into the science of plants while keeping the narrative rooted in successfully growing a garden. Along the way, she evaluates a variety … » More …

Summer 2017

On the surface…

Cancer, that malignant force that maims and kills as it rampages through bodies and lives, may have met its match in the person of James Wells ’79 PhD. Wells speaks quietly but with urgency. You have to lean in to not miss anything.

Wells is explaining that cancer’s derangement of our lives actually begins at the surface of individual cells. The complex chemical ecology of the cell membrane surface deserves its own term of art, so Wells dubs it the “surfaceome.” “The cell membrane is the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth of a cell,” he says.

Cancer cells, in order to avoid detection by the … » More …

Stacy Slade ’00 and Tag
Summer 2017

Stacy Slade ’00

It may be dangerous to anthropomorphize, but the pleasure on Tag’s face is pretty hard to miss as he follows his master, Stacy Slade ’00, around the ring at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show. And the glow emanating from Slade is clear, too, as she leads her handsome and graceful Bernese mountain dog to a Best of Breed win in February this year.

“I’ve been showing dogs since I was 10 years old,” Slade says a few days after she and—to use his full name—Villairns Tag You’re It got back from the show in Manhattan. “I was in Snohomish County 4-H. That’s one … » More …

Fresh peas thumb by Gunenko Oksana
Summer 2017

Fresh Peas

It’s Friday night in the middle of summer, and Darren Wright and Janine Klingele have harvested everything they’ll take to the farmers market early Saturday morning—except peas. These they save for last—but not many peas are actually going to make it to market. The pair of farmers are standing in the light of the full moon eating the irresistible fresh sugar snap peas as fast as they can pick them.

“Peas are best just eating them fresh!” says Klingele. “A quick stir fry is great but they are so sweet fresh.”

Longtime farmer Wright and former Master Gardener Klingele grow about 20 different row … » More …

Faster drop for a new crop
Spring 2017

Faster drop for a new crop

Water and time are money if you’re a farmer. Trees are especially slow, and to get a new apple variety growing at a commercial scale can take years. It not only takes a couple of years after planting for fruit production to start, but it’s a long time just getting trees to plant.

The number of trees needed to plant a commercial-scale orchard is daunting. Even a small orchard of 100 acres needs nearly a quarter million trees to get going. And while it might take only a couple years to “raise a few rootstocks, thousands can take many years,” Washington State University apple breeder … » More …

Spring 2017

Anna King ’00

Growing up in the foothills of Mount Rainier, Anna King ’00 figured she’d end up either a veterinarian or a writer. Her family ran a small cattle farm in Roy, and she loved animals.

King participated in 4-H projects, raising animals but also giving presentations that taught her to communicate with an audience. When a TV reporter from the Seattle area paid a visit to her high school class, she remembers thinking, “This person is so smart, so edgy, so inspiring.”

The Honors College alumna worked for several newspapers in the Puget Sound area, including the Puyallup Herald. She figured out early that … » More …

Dan Maher
Spring 2017

Dan Maher ’78

Everywhere you go on the Palouse, there’s Dan Maher ’78. He’s playing at the Co-op in Moscow, the farmers’ markets in Pullman and Moscow, on Terrell Mall on the WSU campus—if there’s acoustic live music, Dan Maher, his guitar, and his guide dog can’t be far.

But, says Maher, the music scene is nothing like what it once was. “When I was a student here in the early ’70s there was a guitar every 30 feet. Everybody played guitar! We used to go to the basement of the K-House and jam every night.”

 

Even if you’ve never seen Maher play live, you may have … » More …