Surviving the challenges of deep space exploration could rely as much on botany as astrophysics.
NASA sees plants not only as potential food sources aboard future spacecraft but as natural oxygen producers. The space agency is preparing for its first in-depth study of how growth and development of plants is affected by gravity, or more specifically the lack of it.
“The overall significance is what it could mean for space exploration,” says Norman G. Lewis, a Regents professor at Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry and principal investigator for the NASA-funded study. “Whether it’s colonizing planets, establishing a station, … » More …
“There he is!” I look up as tattered orange wings flutter above the sunflowers. A lone male monarch butterfly hovers near the milkweed patch, gallantly hoping, says wildlife ecologist Rod Sayler, for the arrival of a female.
The scene took place early last August at the Washington State University Arboretum and Wildlife Center, where for the first time in 25 years, Sayler documented the iconic butterflies living and breeding on campus. Weeks earlier, to his astonishment, he’d found a handful of monarch caterpillars devouring the leaves of recently restored showy milkweed plants.
“The monarchs were a big surprise for me,” he says. “It’s the first … » More …
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 …
Washington State University’s Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center deploys half a dozen different microscopes in pursuit of the small. Researchers from a wide variety of academic fields use these tools to see and visualize their work, often producing beautiful micrographs of specimens with light microscopes, scanning electron microscopes (SEM), transmission electron microscopes (TEM), fluorescence microscopes, or confocal microscopes.
WSU molecular biologist Jonathan Jones discovered that skin cells “walk” during wound healing, a finding that could impact treatment options for injuries, skin cancer, and other disorders. Read more in “Your skin crawls.”
Our interface with the world. When something goes wrong with skin, people notice. Scars, acne, a change in pigment. Wounds that refuse to heal and chronic conditions like psoriasis. When skin doesn’t behave properly, it hurts.
For over 25 years, molecular biologist Jonathan Jones has been looking for ways to help speed the epidermal healing process. As a child in Wales, he’d suffered from itchy red patches of eczema, an annoying condition that eventually got him thinking about skin in a scientific way. Recently, that interest paid off with the surprising discovery that skin cells “walk” during wound healing. The finding could provide new … » More …
The stark reality of drug abuse hit home for Brendan Walker when two college classmates overdosed on heroin and Xanax. Their unsettling deaths steered Walker toward a career in the neuroscience of psychology and addictions.
Today, the associate professor of psychology and member of the Neuroscience Program at WSU is a leader in the study of alcohol and opioid drug dependence. His research is advancing the development of new pharmacotherapy treatments for addiction.
“Alcohol and abused opioids have a lot of similarity,” says Walker. “They both manipulate very powerful primitive systems in the brain that are critical for our motivation.”
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 …