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Biology

Winter 2014

The scrambled natural world of global warming, a travelogue

Jesse A. Logan ’77 PhD is hiking up a mountainside in Yellowstone National Park and walking back in time. He starts at 8,600 feet above sea level, in a forest thick with the scent of fir and lodgepole pine, and with almost every spry step, the scenery changes. There’s an understory of grouse whortleberry, then accents of mountain bluebells and higher still, the whitebark pine, one of the oldest organisms of the Interior West.

Finally, the vegetation gives way to large swatches of scree. Logan’s 70-year-old legs have gone up 2,000 feet and back more than 10,000 years, from the lush vegetation of the twenty-first … » More …

Cori Kane
Winter 2014

Diving deep in a unique tropical paradise

Cori Kane calls it “underwater skydiving.” She’ll be out in the middle of the North Pacific, more than 1,000 miles from Honolulu and most anything else that might be called civilization. Flopping out of a perfectly good boat, she will rocket down nearly 300 feet in just a few minutes, encountering a strange and largely unexplored layer of ocean that’s less familiar to science than the deep sea. It’s the ecosystem of the mesophotic reefs, which lie at a depth often called the “Twilight Zone.”

“When you jump in, it’s like you’re transported to this other world,” says Kane. “There are fish everywhere. There are … » More …

West Nile virus chart
Summer 2014

Charting the course of a globe-trotting pathogen

For more than half a century, West Nile virus was someone else’s problem.

The mosquito-borne pathogen was first isolated from a feverish human in 1937 in northern Uganda’s West Nile district. It then lay low for a decade before emerging in an actual epidemic in Israel in 1951. With several Egyptian outbreaks in the early ’50s, researchers started to see the disease infect non-humans, particularly crows and horses. Mosquitoes of the Culex genus appeared to be its chief transmitter, or vector.

By the time the virus hit the United States, in 1999, it had taken on a more sinister character. Where before it mostly struck … » More …

Winter 2012

A Summer of Science

If the world of cutting-edge research has a glamorous side, it was lost on Laurel Graves this summer as she found herself digging trenches for soil probes on the Cook Agronomy Farm north of Pullman. In the high summer heat, Graves dug for two hours. Palouse soil covered her arms.

It was a hard-earned insight into the nature of science.

“You mean I’m not doing complex equations constantly?” she wondered. “Oh wait, I’ve got to be a farmer for a while.”

She was not alone in the grunt work department. Jeronda Hunt wrangled scores of petri dishes harboring white, smelly bacteria. Naeh Klages-Mundt spent three … » More …

Melissa Arctic butterfly in collection
Fall 2012

Elusive Butterfly

The Melissa Arctic (Oeneis melissa) is the only species found in the Pacific Northwest that was not included in David James and David Nunnallee’s Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies.

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Fall 2012

Life Histories: The Butterflies of Cascadia

A glorious sunny day in April after a long cool spring, it is Earth Day in Cowiche Canyon near Yakima, and the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy is hosting an educational field day. Scores of people armed with water bottles and binoculars are ambling down the trail toward presentations on birds, salmon, and geology as well as butterflies. Executive director Betsy Bloomfield fills me in on the conservancy’s endeavors as she guides me downstream to a station manned by David James.

James, a research entomologist at the Irrigated Tree Fruit Research Center in Prosser, has with coauthor David Nunnallee published Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies (Oregon State … » More …

New and Noteworthy
Fall 2012

New & noteworthy

Images That Injure

edited by Susan Dente Ross and Paul Martin Lester

Praeger, 2011

WSU English professor Ross and her colleagues examine pictorial stereotypes in the media.

Seaside Stories

by S.R. Martin, Jr. ’74

Blue Nile Press, 2009

Short stories of life in Seaside, on California’s Monterey Peninsula.

Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies

by David G. James and David Nunnallee

Oregon State University Press, 2011

A unique chronicle of the life cycles of the butterfly species native to Cascadia. Read the feature article.