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Tracking a cattle disease

In addition to consulting botanists at the Ownbey Herbarium, retired veterinarian Clive Gay and range scientist Ernie Motteram have dipped into the specimen drawers and expertise at the James Entomology Collection. They have¬† been working with cattlemen in central Washington to pinpoint the insect vectors for pinkeye, the general name for a number of nasty eye infections. Ranchers in Kittitas County have told Motteram that pinkeye is their biggest herd health problem. He says the conventional wisdom that we already know all we need to know about pinkeye is dead wrong. Almost all of the scientific literature on pinkeye is old and doesn’t take into … » More …

Dem bones

The Conner has one of the biggest collections of bird skeletons in the nation. Kelly Cassidy opens a drawer and pulls out a box the size of a small microwave oven. It rattles. It contains a disarticulated golden eagle skeleton, each piece labeled with a number (except for the very smallest, which are about the size of a sesame seed).

“Our skeletons are literally boxes of bones,” she says. The Museum has a few dozen skeletons that have been fully assembled, which are useful for public display, but not for research that requires being able to look at the bones from all angles.

The most … » More …

Coping with Climate Change

Several years ago, scientists noticed that recent herbarium specimens had been collected earlier in the season than specimens from decades past. Since most plants are collected when they are in flower, that meant they were flowering earlier. The easy explanation was that they were responding to the warmer temperatures caused by climate change. The trouble with that, says Larry Hufford, is that it didn’t happen with every species.

He searched the Herbarium’s database for the first date of collection for several plants common in eastern Washington, and found that the habitat a species lives in may be a factor in whether the plant is now … » More …

Spring 2006

Growing as an Artist

Isaac Powell, a graduate student in the Department of Fine Arts, recently won national attention for his work when a piece took grand prize in a juried competition for young artists with disabilities. The competition winners are now part of a traveling exhibit that opened at the Smithsonian last fall. Photo by Robert Hubner.

It’s an artist’s dream to be recognized by experts and curators and to have your work shown by an internationally known museum.

Isaac Powell, a 26-year-old fine arts student at Washington State University, realized that dream last fall when his painting won a spot in a traveling exhibit that opened at … » More …