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WSU Vancouver researchers study a vast array of interests

Students at Washington State University Vancouver are likely aware that the university is an institute for education, but less obvious is that there is also an extensive research department that both students and faculty both participate in. There are currently seven different departments that have ongoing research projects and among these are the anthropology and biology departments.

The anthropology department’s projects are broken down into three categories: archaeology, cultural research, and evolutionary research. Barry Hewlett, an anthropology professor, is part of a group of students and faculty who do research in Africa. Hewlett’s projects take place primarily in Ethiopia, and he focuses on “how children learn in different cultures of the world and how to control dangerous infectious and parasitic diseases.” Hewlett has been working on research in Africa for over 40 years now, and “plan[s] to continue research in the region the rest of my life.” He has over ten graduate students working with him on current projects and has taken groups of students to Africa for research in the past. Students interested in joining Hewlett’s research can inquire at his office, which is in VMMC 202R or contact him at hewlett@vancouver.wsu.edu

Bonnie Hewlett, a visiting professor of anthropology, is also part of the group conducting research in Africa. Her research is currently split into two focuses in Southwestern Ethiopia. The first consisted of a study at an orphanage where she examined the “attachment behaviors between the children and their caretakers…[and] collected social and health histories of the children in the orphanage.” The other research project Hewlett has recently worked on is where she “examined adolescence among the Shabo forager-farmers of Ethiopia.” She has been working on these projects since 2010, and while the research at Shabo is finished, the research with the orphans is ongoing. Hewlett had four Ethiopian anthropology majors from Hawassa University working as research assistants, and a graduate student from WSU working with her on the orphanage study. Hewlett can be reached via email at hewlettb@vancouver.wsu.edu

Clare Wilkinson-Weber, an associate professor of anthropology, is conducting research on “the culture of film making in the Hindi film industry.” Wilkinson-Weber has been conducting research in India since 1989, and began her film project in 2002. Up until recently, she was focusing on the costumes of Bollywood, but has just begun a new phase of her project where she will “look more broadly at set design, location scouting, properties and so on.” Wilkinson-Weber said, “this is an exciting area of study as more scholars in media and film are looking at the cultures of production.” She is also “interested in craft, art, and material culture, and [I] find it fascinating to look at the relationships people have with objects, or create through objects.” While she does not currently have any students working with her, she invites interested students to discuss ideas and research topics with her. Wilkinson-Weber’s office is located in VMMC 102C, or she can be reached via email at cmweber@vancouver.wsu.edu

The biology department at WSU Vancouver conducts a wide variety of research as well. Their research is broken down into eight different labs, including the Watershed Biogeochemistry and Global Change Lab and the Zebrafish Genetics Lab. John Harrison, an associate professor in the WSU School of the Environment, is currently working on six different projects in the Watershed Lab. Harrison studies through using models, “environmental observations, and experimental approaches to understand how biologically active elements like nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon and oxygen are cycled in the environment, and how human activities are altering the fluxes and fates of these nutrients as they are washed downstream through watersheds.” He has been working on these various projects for up to a decade; the time spent depending on the specific project and the grants behind it. While all of these projects have grants that come with expiration dates ranging between one and four years from now, Harrison “anticipate[s] that our lab’s work on these and related problems will endure for many years.” He currently has six graduate students in his lab, as well as several undergraduate students, and is “always on the lookout for smart, enthusiastic students” interested in joining his research. Harrison’s office is located in VSCI 230B, and he can be reached via email at john_harrison@wsu.edu

Cynthia Cooper, an assistant professor of molecular genetics, is the head of the Zebrafish Genetics Lab. There, researchers “study the biology of pigment cells using the model organism Zebrafish.” Cooper explained his methods involved “using genetic, cell biology, developmental biology, and drug treatment approaches.” Cooper began studying Zebrafish in 2003 at WSU as a postdoctoral fellow. The research Cooper conducts is ongoing, with ever more questions to be answered. There are currently two graduate students and four undergraduate students working in Cooper’s lab, across three different projects. Cooper’s office is located in VSCI 230F, and she can also be reached via email at cdcooper@vancouver.wsu.edu

Students interested in more information about these or other research projects happening in the anthropology department can visit anthro.vancouver.wsu.edu/research/. Students interested in more information about the biology department’s project can visit cas.vancouver.wsu.edu/science-graduat e-programs Those looking for information about the research happening in other departments can go to research.vancouver.wsu.edu/

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