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Fall 2016

Till tomorrow

Agricultural research shifts to the LONG game

As David Huggins looks out across the rolling hills of the R.J. Cook Agronomy Farm at Washington State University in Pullman, his enthusiasm about soil is tempered with a sense of urgency about the future of agriculture.

Huggins, a USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist, is keenly aware of the squeeze placed on agriculture by a growing global population in the face of limited resources and a changing climate.

“At no time in the history of the world have we known more about our farming system and our understanding of soil, the atmosphere, and our crops,” … » More …

Fall 2016

What’s new?

Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center

Former WSU President Elson S. Floyd pulled together a group of campus leaders in late 2014 to sketch out a vision of a new kind of building on campus: a place for cultural education and events. Although Floyd died in 2015, the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, under construction on the corner of Stadium and Main, will be a signature welcome to WSU with a “rolling hills” roof and open design.

Maria de Jesus Dixon, manager of operations for the Cultural Center, believes the center is unique among the nation’s universities and colleges. WSU’s multicultural student population has grown … » More …

Fall 2016

Fat furnace

Body fat has gotten a bad rap in recent years. It’s understandable given that 70 percent of American adults are reportedly overweight or obese, costing $190 billion per year in related medical bills. But new research shows not all fat is created equal.

Washington State University professor of animal sciences Min Du says our bodies are equipped with both good and bad types of fat that naturally work together to balance weight and metabolism. The process—along with a little help from diet and exercise— involves an intricate interplay between white, beige, and brown fat—or adipose tissue.

“When most people think of body fat, they’re … » More …

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 …

Thin Ice thumb
Summer 2016

Thin ice

Being put to the test at the ground zero of climate change

There’s the day the polar bear mangled the meteorological instruments. Or when a massive storm smashed two humidity sensors. Days of howling winds, extremely limited visibility, and weather so cold that power cords snapped like twigs.

For Von P. Walden, a professor in Washington State University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the most exciting day as part of the Norwegian Young Sea ICE Cruise (N-ICE2015) team was last May when the thin layer of Arctic sea ice on which the researchers were working started breaking up.

Wearing a Regatta suit … » 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 …

Smart couture thumb. Image from UDK Berlin
Summer 2016

Smart couture

Wearable electronics are leaving the lab and hitting the runway

From smart phones to FitBits, mobile electronics have been woven into the very fabric of our lives. But things are about to get a lot more literal as e-devices begin to be incorporated into the clothing we wear.

Imagine a “smart” shirt or other item of clothing that can monitor your biometrics and ping your doctor when something is out of the ordinary. Or, to manage diabetes, we’ll use a contact lens or pair of glasses to monitor blood glucose levels—and leave behind forever the expensive and annoying finger prick test kit. But wearable … » More …

Alumni News
Summer 2016

Boxing day for Cougs

Hundreds of eager WSU seniors prepare to leave Pullman each spring after graduation. Some might be headed to new jobs or internships. Others will go to graduate school, the military, or the Peace Corps. Whatever the destination, almost all those Cougs have a common need: sturdy boxes.

As they pack their crimson sweatshirts, posters, and books, the graduating students will carry away another reminder of their college days: free WSU-themed packing boxes.

And they can thank Dave Wilson ’86 for his volunteer efforts in arranging delivery of about 1,500 of those boxes for the last eight years.

“The way the box is designed you don’t … » More …

Sweet solution to toxic waste
Spring 2016

Sweet solution to toxic waste

A jar of foul-smelling clay sits on the cluttered workbench. “I’d better not open it,” says environmental engineer Richard Watts. He grabs a smaller jar filled with liquid the color of a dirty mud puddle. “These are soil and groundwater samples from an industrial waste site in North Carolina.”

The repugnant samples arrived in comparatively pristine Pullman to be analyzed by Watts, who then advises the best ways to remedy the mess. In a twist, one of those methods involves the use of sugar.

Watts, a pioneer in oxidizing systems for the detoxification of polluted soil and groundwater and a professor of civil and environmental … » More …