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Brian Charles Clark

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 …

Winter 2017

Homer on a flash drive

Plato is sitting at the feet of his mentor Socrates, writing down what the old philosopher says. What Socrates is saying, ironically, is that writing is bad for you: It rots your memory. Preserved in Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates’s opinion of the then-emerging technology sounds strange to us now—until you recall that that’s pretty much exactly what pundits in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been saying about TV, video games, and texting.

Dene Grigar, director of Washington State University Vancouver’s program in Creative Media and Digital Culture, laughs and nods. She’s also the president of the Electronic Literature Organization, an international team of scholars and … » More …

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 …