Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Washington State Magazine

Winter 2017

Dog gone day

Our boy Mic’s symptoms were so subtle and their onset so gradual we didn’t initially see them. In fact, our other dogs noticed them first.

Mic, a Pembroke corgi then 12, had always embodied good “dog manners.” He’d never met a dog who didn’t like him. Suddenly, he was enraging his packmates. We sympathized; his nighttime barking was fraying our nerves, too.

A number of vet visits and lab tests revealed nothing, and Mic continued to decline. But when his spatial perception deteriorated, we realized he was acting like some elderly people and concluded, almost tongue-in-cheek, he had “doggy dementia.”

Turns out we were right.

» More …

Winter 2017

Medicine to all corners

Washington State University has embarked on one of its most ambitious expansions. The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is carving out its physician-training niche by emphasizing innovation, technology, and the importance of bringing high-quality care to some of the state’s most underserved regions.

 

The request came last spring.

Jim and Linda Bauer have opened their home to visiting symphony musicians, international artists, and others traveling to the Tri-Cities, and community leaders were turning to them again. This time, the Bauers were asked if they’d host a medical student for a weeklong stay at their Richland home.

“We were like, ‘Of course,’” recalls Linda … » More …

Matcha Tea Cakes
Winter 2017

At our table

“After you set the table with your best efforts, let your real pleasure come from looking around the table before breaking bread together and appreciating the similarities in your guests rather than the differences.”

Maya Angelou, 2011

Breaking bread, banquets, or potlucks—however and wherever we enjoy the delightful experience of sharing a meal, we can tell our stories, cross cultural boundaries, and begin to learn each other’s histories.

The holidays especially give us the opportunity to gather for food and talk, so important when it feels like we live in a time rife with incivility and torn by divisiveness.

» More …

Winter 2017

Going the distance. Really.

It is about the miles when you are an ultramarathoner.

 

TWO DAYS BEFORE THE START OF WSU’S FALL SEMESTER, Di Wu staggers down a rugged trail in the towering Sawatch Mountain Range in Colorado. He wheezes with every breath after loping, hiking, and toiling for nearly 50 miles—his training ground in Pullman had done little to prepare him for the suffocating, thin air.

Wu crosses 12,000-foot Hope Pass, a rigorous day’s hike by itself for most. Faced with the prospect of continuing back over the pass, and on to the finish of the Leadville Trail 100-miler, Wu realizes his weary legs are not … » More …

Winter 2017

Getting a new perspective on stress

Humans generally think of themselves as highly evolved creatures, but when it comes to stress, our fear response is as primitive as the tiny beasts that fled predators 500 million years ago. Though lifesaving, this fight-or-flight system is also triggered by modern concerns such as political Facebook posts or being stuck in traffic. Over time, psychological stress can build into an internal time bomb.

While some suggest humans have outgrown their stress system, studies show there are ways to teach that old brain new tricks, helping to calm the angst that comes with contemporary living.

Ryan McLaughlin, assistant professor in the Department of Integrative … » More …

Brain illustration
Winter 2017

Short-circuit the stress

Imagine sitting on a park bench waiting for a friend. You’re checking messages on your phone when a noise catches your attention. You look up and suddenly realize it’s a beautiful autumn day. The sun is warm on your skin and a gentle breeze tempers the heat.

From a nearby tree, birds call while a few golden leaves flutter, break loose, and slowly drift to the ground. On the grass, a parade of tiny black ants drags a bread crumb. Traffic passes in the distance. Quiet voices chat and laugh.

The scene is a simple example of mindfulness, and your brain loves it, especially during … » More …

Winter 2017

Going postal

While digital communication has made a lot of things easier—like video calling someone on the other side of the world—it has made collecting public opinion and behavior data more challenging.

Government agencies rely on that data from censuses, public opinion, and behavior surveys to make extensive policy and financial decisions that impact quality of life, such as healthcare measures that curb smoking.

Don Dillman, a Washington State University Regents Professor in sociology and internationally renowned survey methodologist, has dedicated his career to improving the design of surveys to collect that information.

When he started his career in the 1970s, he had to worry about … » More …

Winter 2017

Fighting infection a new, old way

Before antibiotics were invented, people often used silver, a known antimicrobial that can also be toxic, to tackle infections.

Researchers in the early 1900s also noticed a mysterious and inconsistent effect from using a mild electric current to kill nasty microbes.

Both methods were problematic, though, and were quickly abandoned with the advent of antibiotics, which killed bacteria so effectively throughout the twentieth century.

Now, as the efficacy of conventional antibiotics wanes, Washington State University researchers are reinventing old ideas to fight bacterial infection.

At their lab in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose have developed a nontoxic … » 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 …

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen twins dolls by Mattel. Staff photoillustration
Winter 2017

Seeing double

The Washington State Twin Registry is a powerful aid in promoting better health.

 

Glen Duncan is an outlier in an obesogenic environment. While he’s fit and trim, two in three Americans carry too much weight for their own good and are largely sedentary during work and leisure time. It would help if he had a twin to compare himself with. As it is, he studies other twins in the hope of teasing out why some people are drawn to healthy behavior, others not.

Duncan has long been a runner, from high school races to weekend 10Ks. For the past ten years he has practiced … » More …