Washington State Magazine

Spring 2004


Spring 2004

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In This Issue...

Features

Mount St. Helens: The perfect laboratory :: It is impossible to accept the immensity of Mount St. Helens and the effect of its catastrophic 1980 eruption unless you are able to stand beneath the enormous crater on the pumice plain and listen to John Bishop talk about lupines.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Mount St. Helens :: Photographs of John Bishop's research and the volcano. By Robert Hubner}

Lonely, Beautiful, and Threatened—Willapa Bay :: Willapa Bay is the largest estuary between San Francisco and Puget Sound. It boasts one of the least-spoiled environments and the healthiest salmon runs south of Canada. It produces one in every four oysters farmed in the United States and is a favorite stop for tens of thousands of migratory birds. And it's in trouble.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Willapa Bay :: Photographs by Bill Wagner}

Extreme Diversity—in Soap Lake :: Soap Lake is surrounded by dark shores, sheer rock walls, a primeval landscape. Its waters have long been thought by some to cure certain maladies. It is also home to strange, hardy organisms that live nowhere else.

Keith Lincoln, Barn Builder :: Over 25 years at Washington State University, alumni director Keith Lincoln built many things, including friendships and a place where alums can go to sit in the shade.

Panoramas

Departments

:: SEASONS/SPORTS: Golfer Kim Welch

:: SEASONS/SPORTS: Basketball's Marcus Moore

Tracking

Cover: Ecologist John Bishop has followed the reestablishment of life on Mount St. Helens's pumice plain. Read the story here. Photograph by Robert Hubner.

Panoramas
bee

Robert Pickett / Corbis

Building a better bee trap

by | © Washington State University

Bee-trap manufacturers like to use a chemical substance called pheromones to attract bees into traps and away from people. Problem is, they don't always work.

Providing the right amount of pheromones is imperative. Too many pheromones or too much of one of its components repels bees, and the amount of pheromones that is optimal for attracting bees may vary during a day, depending on temperature and light. Prashanta Dutta, assistant professor in mechanical and materials engineering, has been working with Spokane-based Sterling International to build a better bee trap-one in which the release of very tiny amounts of pheromones can be carefully monitored and adjusted.

Dutta, who is part of Washington State University's Micro-Scale Thermo Fluid group, is developing a micro-fluidic-based bioreactor to synthesize insect pheromones. The micro-bioreactor will precisely dispense the exact amount of ingredients to best attract insects.

The group's main focus is to develop an electrokinetic-based micro-pumping technology that is cheap, quiet, reliable, and environmentally friendly. Recently, they built the first-generation micropump on a polymeric chip that measures two microns by 300 microns by two centimeters, or about one-fifth the thickness of a human hair, and is driven by a three-volt battery.

Micro-fluidic technology takes advantage of chemical properties of liquids and the electrical properties of semi-conductor materials. At the microscopic level, the electrochemical properties of liquids are very dominant. This unique characteristic is very suitable for selective control of chemical and biological molecules or components in a sample solution. Dutta has been studying these unique properties of fluids in micro-scale that could possibly be utilized in a variety of chemical, biological, and bio-analytical fields.

Categories: Biological sciences, Entomology | Tags: Bees

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