CWUBiology NewsBiology News Biology Professor Awarded $285,000 to Study Environmental Effects on Food Crop, 14 Jun 2016 10:38:21<p><img alt="" src="/biology/sites/" style="width: 452px; height: 300px;"></p><p>How will climate change affect the production of essential food crops? Food security depends on producing enough crops despite a rapidly growing population and increasingly variable climate.</p><p>Jennifer Dechaine-Berkas, a Central Washington University biological sciences professor, recently received a $285,000, five-year grant to study how a major plant oil crop, sunflower, resists drought and other environmental stresses. While both agricultural crops and wild plants are subjected to the same stresses, wild plants have evolved to better withstand poor conditions; many crops are less resilient.</p><p>Future crop production may be be increasingly challenged by environmental stresses, such as drought, and saltier, lower nutrient soils. Drought was a problem for farmers in Washington State and other parts of the country this year, and this issue is expected to worsen as the climate changes.</p><p>"Environmental stress affects plants like any other organism; a person's growth and productively suffer without proper nutrition, and so do our crops," Dechaine-Berkas noted. "We hope that our findings help farmers continue to produce food but using fewer resources.”</p><p>“Sunflower is particularly suitable for this work, because its oil production is limited by environmental stress. However related wild sunflowers thrive in extremely stressful environments like deserts,” she explained. “Working out the complex gene networks underlying plant response to stress can help us develop productive food systems that use fewer resources.”&nbsp;</p><p>The grant also provides funding for CWU biology students to travel to University of Georgia for a Research Leadership Internship. Students will experience cutting-edge research techniques and learn about the academic and social aspects of pursuing doctoral graduate research.</p><p>The project, “Evolutionary Genomics of Abiotic Stress Resistance in Wild and Cultivated Sunflowers,” is part of a $4.1 million National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Grant, led by the University of Georgia, and shared by five universities and the United States Department of Agriculture. Abiotic refers to non-living factors, such as weather, that affect plants and animals and their ecosystems.</p><p><br>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>June 14, 2016</p></br></br>KEEN Guided Nature Walk: "Exploring Insects" Sunday, June 12th, 12-1pm, 08 Jun 2016 11:52:57<p>Guided Nature Walk:&nbsp; ”Exploring Insects,” Sunday, June 12, noon -1 pm, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center at Helen McCabe Park<br>(corner of Thrall and Canyon Roads, just 5 miles south of Ellensburg)<br><br>Join Logan Kral on an insect-infused exploration of the Helen McCabe park and all the tiny places things with 6 legs call home. Sunshine and warm summer temperatures will be bringing us butterflies, mayflies, jewel beetles and colorful bugs! Suitable for all ages; please be prepared for whatever weather spring may bring us!</p><p>Logan is conducting research on overwintering and metabolics in mason bees, and will be starting graduate studies in Biology this fall.&nbsp; He is excited about all things with six legs, but has a special fondness for the pollinators which drive our agriculture.</p></br></br></br>Yakima Basin Science & Management Conference 2016, 31 May 2016 11:09:14<h3 style="text-align: center;"><a href="/biology/sites/">June 15-16 &nbsp;2016 &nbsp;at CWU in Science Building Room 147</a><br><a href="/biology/sites/"><img alt="" src="/biology/sites/" style="width: 450px; height: 600px;"></a></h3></h3 style="text-align: center;"></br>KEEN Guided Nature Walk "Pond Life" May 8th, 3-4pm, 02 May 2016 12:56:23<p>KEEN Guided Nature Walk: “Pond Life” Sunday, May 8, 3-4 pm, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center at Helen McCabe Park<br>(corner of Thrall and Canyon Roads, just 5 miles south of Ellensburg)</p><p>Ecologists Connor Parrish, Ashton Bunce, and Taggert Butterfield will introduce you to our local fish, reptiles, amphibians and macroinvertebrates. Great activity for Mother’s Day; suitable for all ages!&nbsp; Please dress appropriately for the spring weather.</p><p>Over the past 5 years Connor and Ashton have worked as fisheries technicians throughout the Pacific Northwest. Taggert specializes in reptile and amphibian ecology and has extensive experience in public outreach. All three are currently working towards their master’s degrees at Central Washington University.</p></br>Guided Nature Walk April 10, 3-4pm, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center at Helen McCabe Park, 08 Apr 2016 08:18:45<p><strong>Guided Nature Walk: “Lichens All Around Us,” </strong></p><p><strong>Sunday, April 10, 3-4 pm,</strong> Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center at Helen McCabe Park<br>(corner of Thrall and Canyon Roads, just 5 miles south of Ellensburg)</p><p><br>Peculiar, mysterious and beautiful partially describes this compound organism composed of an alga AND a fungus. Such an organism could only be a LICHEN!&nbsp; Jack Massie will introduce the world of lichens to interested enthusiasts.&nbsp; We will search and find lichens in both the most usual and likely locations AND some that may surprise us within the Park.<br><br>Dress appropriately for the spring weather and bring a hand lens or a magnifier if possible.<br><br>Jack is a seasonal botanist/lichenologist with the US Forest Service, Cle Elum Ranger District.&nbsp; He is always eager to share his knowledge of and enthusiasm for lichens.</p></br></br></br></br></br></br>Guided Nature Walk March 13, 3-4pm, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center at Helen McCabe Park, 09 Mar 2016 15:40:34<p>Guided Nature Walk, March 13, 3-4 pm, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center at Helen McCabe Park<br>(corner of Thrall and Canyon Roads, just 5 miles south of Ellensburg)<br><br>Insect enthusiast Logan Kral will lead a walk around the pond and other areas of the park to show some of the tiny creatures that help shape our local ecosystems.&nbsp; Suitable for all ages; please be prepared for whatever weather spring may bring us!<br><br>Logan is a graduating senior at CWU, majoring in Biology.&nbsp; He is currently researching freeze-tolerance and over-wintering techniques of wasps.&nbsp;&nbsp; Logan loves all things with six legs, but has a special place in his heart for the pollinators which make our delicious local produce possible!</p></br></br></br></br></br>Natural Science Seminar, "Fracking Vaca Muerta: Socio-Economic Implications of Shale Gas Extraction in Northern Patagonia", 24 Feb 2016 11:47:51<p><img alt="" src="/biology/sites/" style="width: 500px; height: 375px;"></p><p>This presentation explores hydraulic fracturing activities in the Vaca Muerta Shale deposit in northern Patagonia from a critical perspective. Building on initial research conducted in the summer of 2015, this presentation examines the socio-environmental consequences associated with fracking activities in the province of Neuquén, Argentina and the political economic frameworks that shape the use of underground resources in the region. By analyzing the relationships between national strategies to meet the country’s energy demand, provincial government responses to adapt to these changes, and everyday lives of citizens in the rural community of Añelo, where the large majority of the infrastructure to support fracking activities is being developed, this study illuminates the myriad complexities inherent to issues of access to and control over shale deposits in a changing energy landscape.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>CWU Biological Sciences Professor Says a Tall Person Likely to Win the White House This Year, 23 Feb 2016 15:39:55<p><img alt="" src="/biology/sites/" style="width: 250px; height: 250px; float: right; border-width: 3px; border-style: solid; margin: 3px;">Many people are wondering why political newcomer—entrepreneur Donald Trump has become the Republican front-runner in the 2016 presidential race. A Central Washington University biological sciences professor may have the answer: Trump’s height.</p><p><a href="">Lixing Sun</a> has written, “When Democracy Meets the Ghost of Evolution: Why Short Presidents Have Vanished,” an article comparing the heights of presidents. This year marks the 30th time since 1900 that voters have cast presidential ballots. Sun’s article notes that, in presidential campaigns between the two major parties during the period, the taller candidate has won 69 percent of the time.<br><br>Sun points out that height may have added significance because of increasing media scrutiny, beginning with the use of images, especially after the inception of televised debates in 1960, which has led to—and allowed for—increased public analysis of the candidates’ physical attributes.<br><br>“Behavioral economists will point to the halo effect, where a perceived strength—here, the height of a candidate—eclipses all weaknesses,” said Sun, who added that evolution could be the reason for such bias. “Research shows that, from insects to mammals, body size can predict winners when resources and mates are at stakes. Even in modern tribal societies, tall men are still preferred as chiefs.”<br><br>Sun determined that, of presidents elected before 1900, 11 of 20 were shorter than five feet nine inches tall. Since then, with the exception of William McKinley, who was five feet seven inches, 18 of the 19 president’s have been above that threshold.&nbsp;<br><br>Trump is six feet two inches, which happens to be the same height as Bill Clinton, and, if he ultimately wins the election, would tie him as the fourth tallest president in history. That list also includes the nation’s first Commander in Chief, George Washington.<br><br>Barack Obama, who is six feet one inch, defeated both the smaller John McCain, five feet eight inches, and Mitt Romney, who is only half-an-inch taller, in his successful White House bids. Height is not always the deciding factor, as George W. Bush won against a pair of taller rivals in Al Gore, six feet one inch, and John Kerry, six feet four inches. Had Kerry won, he would have tied Abraham Lincoln as the nation’s tallest president.<br><br>The 2016 Democratic front runner, Hillary Clinton is five feet seven inches in height, which would make her taller than three former presidents, including James Madison who, at just five feet four inches, has been the nation’s most diminutive leader. However, Sun states that whether height plays a role in the voters’ minds when it pertains to women presidential contenders is not known at this point, simply because of there have been so few female candidates in past years.</p><p><strong>Media contact:</strong> Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,</p><p>February 23, 2016</p></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br>Dr. Steve Wagner to Discuss "Hops and Hopping" in Ecuador (Feb. 12), 12 Feb 2016 14:29:51<p>On February 12th, Dr. Steven Wagner will be giving a talk entitled <strong>"Hops and Hopping: Techniques for Production of Hop Forward Beers" </strong>as part of the symposium <a href="/biology/sites/">"Discussion of Technological Challenges for Craft Breweries in Ecuador"</a> at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.</p><p>Dr. Wagner will discuss hop varietals and selection of hops for aroma and flavor characters with respect to alpha and beta acids, and hop oils. He will summarize techniques for increasing positive hop flavors in beers including late addition hopping, hop bursting, post boil additions, and dry hopping. In addition, he will discuss strategies to avoid or minimize negative aroma and flavor characters that can be imparted by hops in beer. Finally, he will discuss the style characteristics of Northwest India Pale Ales and Cascadian Dark Ales also known as Black IPAs.</p><p>Dr. Steven Wagner is Director of the Central Washington University (CWU) Craft Brewing Program the first program to offer a 4-year Bachelors of Science (B.S) Degree in Craft Brewing. In addition, the program offers a 10-month Certificate Program in Craft Brewing for non-degree seeking students. CWU is located in the Pacific Northwest of North America about 50 km from Yakima, in Washington State, one of the largest hop growing regions in the world. Northwestern region brewers are known for producing more bitter and hop forward beers.</p>Guided Nature Walk February 14th, 02 Feb 2016 10:23:44<p>Guided Nature Walk, February 14, 3-4 pm, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center at Helen McCabe Park&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.4;">(corner of Thrall and Canyon Roads, just 5 miles south of Ellensburg)</span></p><p>Ornithologists Mary Vasey and Ricky Carr will lead a beginner's guide to local bird identification with a particular focus on raptors. Suitable for all ages; please dress warmly and bring binoculars if have them.<br><br>Mary and Ricky are environmental consultants working at local pre- and post-construction renewable energy sites. They are both avid birders who love Helen McCabe Park and any opportunity to talk about their feathered friends.</p></span style="line-height: 1.4;"></br></br>