Washington State Magazine

Winter 2008

Winter 2008

In This Issue...


On the waterfront: Tacoma's past may be a key to its future Twenty years ago, the City Club of Tacoma approached the city with a plan to unify the waterfront and build a walking path from the Tacoma Dome to Point Defiance. The painstakingly researched report urged that the entire waterfront be redesigned as a people place. Lara Hermann '95 was thrilled when a city hall worker handed her the document. "It was like a present just lands in your lap," she says. by Hannelore Sudermann; Photos by Ingrid Barrentine { WEB EXCLUSIVE–COORDINATES: Tacoma's Waterfront. An interactive map and photo gallery. View photographer Ingrid Barrentine's images along the Tacoma waterfront. }

Fine Specimens Washington State University is home to three superb research collections, all begun soon after the young agricultural college opened its doors. What makes them research collections, says Ownbey Herbarium director Larry Hufford, is "sheer numbers." The Conner Zoology Museum has about 69,000 specimens, the Herbarium about 375,000, and the James Entomology Collection more than 1.25 million. These numbers make WSU's collections among the best in the nation. by Cherie Winner { WEB EXCLUSIVES: Videos and stories }

Rethinking the fundamentals Feeding the world may require us to use old knowledge in new ways. Although the prices of fuel and commodities have dropped since early summer, the volatility of their relationship will surely dog us for the foreseeable future. While stock prices may temporarily overshadow food prices in the public consciousness, some farmers and researchers are looking at different ways of doing business, perhaps moving the land-grant university back to its founding purpose. by Tim Steury

L'Américain en Provence A story about an expatriate—and about his wine. Provence is a world away from Bellevue, where Denis Gayte '97 grew up. And French winemaking is another world away from the public relations career he abandoned. So there he was, with his French heritage and a newly minted "young French winemaker" degree—but still referred to (and always affectionately) as l'Américain. by Andrea Vogt


{ WEB EXCLUSIVEGallery: Afghanistan success story - a gallery }



:: SPORTS: Unstoppable Rueben Mayes

:: LAST WORDS: Murrow's door


:: IN SEASON: A Season for Seeds

{ WEB EXCLUSIVESVideo: "This is W.S.C." - A movie introducing Washington State College in 1952, narrated by Edward R. Murrow. }


Cover illustration: Marbled murrelets take flight, by Darlene McElroy.

First Words

Meaningful glimpses

by | © Washington State University

Little of what goes on at a university is the stuff of breaking news. The general formula for what gets reported about a university is pretty much the same as for politics and world affairs: money gained and lost, a result here, a conclusion there, a gaffe, a little scandal now and then. But the really interesting stuff, the stuff that matters, seldom gets much attention.

Yet on any given day here on campus, a reknowned herpetologist might, as Ken Kardong did earlier this fall, summarize his life's work to a good-sized and feisty crowd of faculty and students. He demonstrated how over evolutionary time, rattlesnakes and other vipers defied "Cuvier's Dilemma" by switching from non-venomous to venomous. Unfortunately, you weren't there-because you couldn't, most likely, be in Pullman on a Monday afternoon.

We plan to remedy this in a virtual manner with a feature of our new Web site, called Discovery.

Discovery will be an at-least-weekly blog (for those who like such neologisms), a weekly commentary on and expression of the process of discovery across Washington State University. Discovery will emphasize the discussion, investigation, dead ends, and serendipity that are all part of the process of discovery.

Shortly after the rattlesnake presentation, Peter Landolt '76 M.S., '78 Ph.D. Entomology, who is now a research entomologist with the USDA in Yakima, told a small crowd here on campus what he's learned about yellow jackets. Maybe knowing that they lead a highly social life, like honeybees, won't make your early September picnic any more pleasant. But I do feel smarter knowing that skunks are the main predator of yellow jackets, that the wasps rely on an intricate blend of volatile chemicals to communicate, and that the more aggressive species are the ones that build their nests underground, not the beautiful layered paper nests that suddenly appear under eaves and in your garage.

A few days later, Tim Murray, head of plant pathology, told a roomful of pathology and crops and soils students and faculty about his work and travel with Rome-based Bioversity International to promote conservation and the use of crop genetic diversity to control pests and disease in Morocco, Ecuador, China, and Uganda.

Many of these presentations and discussions are captured on video and are available, if you can find them. But I'm the first to admit that an hour, the general length of such events on a college campus, is a long time to sit and stare at a computer screen, no matter how intellectually stimulating the recorded event. So it will be our task to summarize and analyze, to share the gist of the continuous intellectual discussion that is a university campus.

Discovery may be sparked by a news article, such as the piece in the Seattle PI some time ago, about research showing that many current crops are lower in nutritional value than they once were, an unintentional consequence of breeding for unrelated traits. Discovery would summarize that finding, then point to similar work done by WSU scientists John Fellman, Preston Andrews, Kevin Murphy, and others, directing readers to relevant publications.

And certainly the sciences are not the only place where discovery proceeds. Discovery may present a fly-on-the-wall account of a seminar by scholar Will Hamlin on his research on the first English translation of Montaigne's Essais and the revelations of the marginalia in existing copies. Or it may focus simply on the discussion between Hamlin and seminar attendees about literary "appropriation" in the 16th century and how the idea of intellectual property was a Romantic invention.

Obviously, we can't report on everything that happens on campus. We have enough trouble keeping up with the "news." But we can do a better job of demonstrating the creative and intellectual excitement of discovery at Washington State University, of giving you meaningful glimpses into the process that, little by little, helps us understand our world and how better to live in it.

Tim Steury,Editor

Discovery will be posted on Washington State Magazine Online each week, announced campus-wide, and offered as an RSS feed. We hope to begin Discovery by the first of the year, and you can request that we keep you informed.

Categories: Websites, WSU history |

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