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Larry Clark ’94

Iphone image
Fall 2016

Get out the tweet

Social media’s effect on political participation and civility

In the nonstop flow of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, it’s hard to avoid comments and news about politics, especially in a presidential election year. Many worry the geyser of political rhetoric and uncivil comments might discourage some from participating.

That’s not always the case, says Porismita Borah, an assistant professor in the Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University since 2012. As a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin and at WSU, she researches emerging technology and how it affects politics. She coauthored a study in 2008 that found young people became … » More …

Putting feeling into the digital world thumb
Summer 2016

Putting feeling into the digital world

A new touchstone for virtual reality

On its own, the gleaming silver skeletal hand looks like a disembodied limb from The Terminator. Strap it on a human and it becomes a glove to grasp things within virtual, computer-generated worlds.

Hakan Gurocak, the mechanical engineering professor at Washington State University Vancouver who designed the glove with his former graduate student Randy Bullion, says the haptic interface can be used in conjunction with virtual reality headsets and position sensors to add a new sense of touch to the experience of being in a digital environment.

More than just immersive computer games or movies, virtual reality and … » More …

Asparagus and morels. Photo Bruce Andre
Summer 2016

Morels

Mysterious. Elusive. Delicious.

The smell of rain-soaked earth permeated the logged-over clearing in the woods in mid-May as my friend Mike and I peered closely at the ground and walked slowly. We were hunting mushrooms.

Mike’s more adept eyes spotted a cluster of light brown, honeycombed caps. He sliced the morel mushrooms with his knife. After a while we filled a small bucket, which we took back to Mike’s mom. She battered and fried them and, as a teenager in northeast Washington years ago, I had my first taste of the rich flavor of the wild Northwest mushroom.

Mike and I had likely picked Morchella … » More …

Paccar Environmental Technology Building
Summer 2016

Within the urban fabric

The architectural responsibility of making more than just buildings

When the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, planned to expand their convention center in the late 2000s, they wanted a structure that would reflect the city’s environmental values while tripling the meeting space of the downtown facility. The Vancouver Convention Centre West, designed by LMN Architects and completed in 2009, exceeded their vision: The gentle slope of the 6-acre green “living roof” provides bird habitat; the building is heated and cooled by seawater; and fish and shellfish inhabit the base of the building.

The Vancouver project fits exactly with the philosophy of the Seattle-based architects … » More …

Mel Eklund '55 thumb image
Summer 2016

Deadliest toxin microbiologist

A researcher’s lifelong investigation of the botulinum bacteria

Millions of juvenile salmon died mysteriously in hatcheries across the Northwest from 1979 to 1982. Bankruptcy loomed for seafood companies as fish wobbled around the hatchery tanks and then expired.

Eventually, they brought in Mel Eklund ’55, a microbiologist and pathogen expert with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle. His wife, Helen, had seen a news report about the dying salmon and when she told him, Eklund got to work.

He analyzed the fish samples in his lab and discovered what he suspected: The salmon were poisoned with botulism, one of the most powerful toxins … » More …

Color My World thumb
Summer 2016

Color my worlds

An alumna artist brings out the kids in us

Tarah Luke felt like her hands would fall off after completing 120 pages in adult coloring books over five and a half weeks.

Luke ’05 didn’t color the pages, though. The Seattle-based artist designed and drew the images featured in the four books. The Eiffel Tower, a marching band, an octopus, and a movie camera are just a few examples from the series of themed volumes divided into places, music, animals, and inventions.

Luke’s collection is part of a growing national trend. Adult coloring books, usually featuring complex patterns within images, have become an increasingly popular … » More …

Chance for Glory book cover
Summer 2016

Chance for Glory

The Innovation and Triumph of the 1916 Washington State Rose Bowl Team

Chance for Glory book cover

Darin Watkins ’84

Aviva: 2015

“I have decided to put my fate in your hands,” said Washington State College football coach William “Lone Star” Dietz to his players, as they prepared to take on Brown University in the 1916 Rose Bowl after an astounding 1915 season. Dietz promised to return as coach if WSC won.

The team fought hard, using Dietz’s … » More …

First Words
Summer 2016

As above, here below

Early science fiction authors tossed around the idea of mining the asteroids near Earth decades ago. Asimov, Heinlein, Pournelle, and other sci-fi luminaries wrote the concept into their stories of robots and space-bound pioneers since the 1940s. As with many of those authors’ ideas, we’re on the edge of fiction becoming reality.

Companies such as Redmond-based Planetary Resources plan to send robot harvesters up to the asteroids, likely within a decade, to extract water and rare minerals. CEO Chris Lewicki told me they are already in the prospecting phase, sending satellites to probe for likely mining candidates. The conference room where we met has … » More …