“Supernatural” by Coral Saville

Two students in Western Washington University’s Department of Design, Coral Saville and Mercedes Schrenkeisen, have each won a Student Silver Addy award at the American Advertising Awards in Seattle in the category “Elements of Advertising, Animation or Special Effects.”


Western’s Jeff Grimm uses sugar to study the neuroscience of cravings, addiction and relapse.

by John Thompson

The muffin in the break room at work. The donut in the kitchen. The rack of candy and chocolate right there at arm’s length as we check out in the grocery store.

They all call out to us in clear, insistent tones that are hard to shake, and can trigger cravings that become almost irresistible.

We’ve all been there.

But cut yourself some slack: According to more than 20 years of research by Western Professor of Psychology Jeff Grimm, your interest in these confections isn’t simply the result of good marketing or product placement. …


WWU grad student Shannon Healy stands on a snowy ridge high in the Cascades with Mount Baker looming on the horizon.

In this week’s Research Recap, we have three award winners from Scholars Week and a new piece of equipment has found its way to the Anthropology Department. Want more WWU research content? Follow @WWUResearch on Twitter.

Shannon Healy, a graduate student in environmental science, was awarded $100 for her presentation in the Three Minute Thesis session during Scholars Week 2021. Healy is most interested in the use of remote sensing to assess the impact of various light-absorbing impurities, like snow algae on snow melt. …


Western’s faculty and students are engaged in exciting research and scholarship across a variety of fields. Each Friday, Western Today will share short summaries of the latest developments in scholarly work at the University. Want more research news? Follow @WWUResearch on Twitter.

Yanara Friedland

Yanara Friedland

Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies Assistant Professor Yanara Friedland is the author of “Groundswell,” a book of creative nonfiction just published by Essay Press.

“Groundswell” is a collection of border narratives, rituals, and biographies of Grenzgaenger, or “border crosser.” Inside the narrator’s dream to return home, we encounter the living archive of walls and ruins. Along Germany’s former…


Undergraduates Amy Pollock (left) and Evan Van Pelt (right) at work in Mike Larsen’s lab

Western Washington University’s faculty and students are engaged in exciting research across a variety of fields. Periodically, Western Today will share short summaries of the latest developments in scholarship and research at the University. Want more research news? Follow @WWUResearch on Twitter.

Mike Larsen, Chemistry

WWU Assistant Professor of Chemistry Mike Larsen recently received a three-year, $330,000 grant from the National Science Foundation titled “Dynamic Guanidine-based Polymer Networks.” The accelerating global accumulation of plastic waste is a pressing environmental issue, and major contributors to this problem are a class of compounds called thermosets, which consist of crosslinked polymer networks with a fixed structure…


A target peptide bound to the Class A sortase from Streptococcus pyogenes.

by John Thompson

They say bad things come in threes, but don’t tell that to WWU Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jeanine Amacher. She has received three career milestones during just this school year alone — a paper about to be published and a pair of important grants — and she shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

“It feels odd to say anything positive about the past year given the pandemic, but wow, I’ll take it,” Amacher said.

And while it always feels good to receive grants and get work published, perhaps the biggest recipients of these three milestones…


Western Washington University’s David Wallin watches as WWU grad student Hannah Hein pilots the project’s UAV off the pad and into the air, where it will soon begin its prescribed route photographing Padilla Bay’s eelgrass beds. (WWU photo/Rhys Logan)

by John Thompson

Western Washington University graduate student Hannah Hein studied the vast rolling prairies of her native Minnesota as an undergrad at St. Olaf College — and she has now shifted her research focus to a vital underwater grassland, the critically important eelgrass meadows of the Pacific Northwest, and specifically those found in Skagit County’s Padilla Bay.

Healthy eelgrass beds are vital nursery habitat for a variety of ecologically and commercially important fish and shellfish species such as herring, salmon and Dungeness crab. The beds also perform important roles in helping to filter the water column and stabilize nearshore…


A Martian landscape captured by the Opportunity Rover.
A Martian landscape captured by the Opportunity Rover.
The sun begins to set on another Martian day in this image from the Opportunity rover. The Mars 2020 mission, featuring the Perseverance rover, begins in earnest when the rover touches down on Mars on Thursday, Feb. 18.

by John Thompson

Western Washington University Associate Professor of Geology Melissa Rice is going to be working nights for the next three months.

Martian nights.

Rice, who is a science team member of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission that lands on the Red Planet on Thursday, Feb. 18, said she is prepping for “90 days of jet lag” once the rover sets down.

“We work Martian nights for a very important reason: We need to work while the rover sleeps, so that when it wakes up the next day, it can begin work on its new to-do list,” Rice said.


A barrel full of DDT-laced industrial waste — one of about 500,000 thought to have been dumped in the area after World War II — lies on the sea floor off the coast of Los Angeles. Image courtesy UCSB.

by John Thompson

They went searching on a hunch, a theory fed by decades of rumors.

And in the pitch-black darkness on that day in 2011, the rumors became fact. Almost 3,000 feet below the surface of the ocean on the floor of the San Pedro Basin between Los Angeles and Catalina Island, littering the seafloor, they found what they were looking for.

First they saw one barrel, and then another. Eventually dozens of them, all packed with industrial waste laden with DDT, one of the most toxic poisons ever created by mankind, a pesticide so genetically and environmentally harmful…


WWU Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Alia Khan and Chilean colleague Edgardo Sepulveda collect data in front of Collins Glacier on King George Island in Antarctica; green snow algae is visible in the snow at right.

According to new research by Western Washington University Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Alia Khan, red and green algae growing on snow in the Antarctic Peninsula causes significant extra snowmelt that is on par with melt from dust on snow in the Rocky Mountains, according to a first-of-its-kind scientific research study led by Khan.

“These algal blooms lower the snow and ice’s albedo, or its ability to reflect light,” said Khan, and could have serious impacts on regional climate, snow and ice melt, freshwater availability, and ecosystems according to the research, which was just published in the European Geosciences Union’s…

Western Washington University

WWU’s faculty and students work to change the planet and assist the global community with research, creativity and scholarship across all disciplines.

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