Biology News Archive

  • Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler discusses human evolution in The Conversation article

    May 10, 2024

    In a new post on the science-focused journalism site, The Conversation, Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler, Professor of Biology, argues that the activities of everyday life influence human evolution just as much as “uncommon activities” (such as big-game hunting). The article, "Everyday life and its variability influenced human evolution at least as much as rare activities like big-game hunting", draws from Dr. Wall-Scheffler's own research and the research of other scientists to present a new model for understanding how humans evolve in response to their social and environmental interactions.

  • Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler named 2023 AAAS Fellow

    Apr 19, 2024

    Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler, Professor of Biology, was named to the 2023 AAAS Fellow class in the Section on Anthropology. The AAAS Fellows is a prestigious honor bestowed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recognizing top scientists in their fields. It is highly ususual for faculty from non-research-intensive (R1) universities to be recognized. This recognition is a testament to Dr. Wall-Scheffler's transformative research, and demonstrates that high-quality research with undergraduate students is not only possible, but necessary. More information on the AAAS Fellows honor is available here. Congratulations, Dr. Wall-Scheffler!

  • Biology programs are featured Giving Day 2024 campaigns

    Apr 2, 2024

    SPU's annual Giving Day will be Wednesday, April 3, 2024, and features two core Biology programs. The BioCORE Scholars Program supports students who are underrepresented in STEM and health care fields by providing academic enrichment, research experience, networking and scholarships. If at least ten donors give to the BioCORE Scholars Program, we will receive an additional $100, thanks to a generous donor. Please donate via the BioCORE Scholars Giving Day page!

    Blakely Island Field Station in the San Juan Islands is a beloved site for research and fellowship for both students and faculty. Funds raised will go to restoring aging infrastructure around the field station and to support student research. Please donate via the Blakely Island Giving Day page!

    The campaign with the greatest number of donors will receive an additional $1500, with $1000 going to the campaign with the second-highest number of donors. Giving Day is an important source of financial support for our programs, and we greatly appreciate any contributions!

  • Biology Department is represented at the 2024 American Association of Biological Anthropologists meeting

    Apr 2, 2024

    Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler, Professor of Biology, along with current student Eloisa Nguyen (BS Physiology, 2024) and alumna Yu-Jin Youn (BS Physiology, 2023), presented research at the 2024 American Association of Biological Anthropologists conference in Los Angeles. Dr. Wall-Scheffler served as a member of the conference planning committee and symposium organizer, as well.

  • Biology faculty and alumnus publish new deer research study

    Feb 27, 2024

    Professors of Biology Eric Long and Ryan Ferrer, along with alumnus Enoch Tham (BS Ecology, 2019) co-authored a new research article in PLoS ONE ( The article, “Succession and climatic stochasticity induce long-term decline of a forest browser”, examined the long-term effects of forest regrowth and maturation on the density of black-tailed deer on Blakely Island. Long, Tham and Ferrer found that as timber harvests decreased and forests matured on Blakely Island, black-tailed deer populations decreased. These results are among the first to quantify deer population declines in response to forest regrowth and increased canopy cover, and have long-term implications for island ecosystem recovery and population survival in response to significant events such as climate change and disease.

  • Gum Nau presents research at SICB Conference

    Jan 1, 2024

    Gum Nau (BS Physiology, 2024) will give an oral presentation at the annual Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) conference in Seattle on Friday, January 5. His talk, titled "Trophic tinkle: Predator pee fails to frighten foragers and conifer chemistry depends on deer damage", will report work Nau did in collaboration with biology students Hannah McSwain (BS Ecology, 2024) and Kenzie Garrett (BS Physiology, 2024), and supervised by Professors Ryan Ferrer (Biology), Eric Long (Biology) and Baine Craft (Psychology). It is unusual for undergraduates to be selected for oral presentations at a national conference like SICB - congratulations, Gum!

  • Three Biology students present at the 2023 SACNAS conference

    Nov 11, 2023

    SPU was represented by three current and former Biology students at the 2023 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference, held October 26 - 28 in Portland, Oregon. Yennifer Gaspar Garcia (BS Physiology 2025) presented her project, "DNA barcoding reveals Salmon mislabeling rates in Seattle sushi restaurants", in collaboration with student Angelique Djekoundade and Dr. Tracie Delgado, Associate Professor of Biology. Krysta Reese (BS Ecology 2024) presented her project, "DNA barcoding of marine and freshwater goby fish, Negros Oriental and Palawan, Philippines", based on research she conducted as part of the Philippines International Research Experience for Students (Ph-IRES) in Summer 2023. Finally, Abhi Kancherla (BS Cellular and Molecular Biology 2023) presented "5-Nitroimidazole-resistance in Mycoplasma genitalium strains is associated with mutations in an NAD(P)H-dependent FMN reductase gene", which was work he did in collaboration with students Alessandro Rizzi and Cameron Weller, and Dr. Derek Wood, Professor of Biology.

  • Biology students represent SPU at annual Murdock Conference

    Nov 11, 2023

    14 students from the Departments of Biology and Chemistry & Biochemistry represented SPU at the annual Murdock College Science Research Conference, November 10 - 11, 2023 in Vancouver, WA. Students' presentations represented a broad spectrum of disciplines, including human physiology, genetics, neurobiology, chemical ecology, microbiology and organic chemistry. The Murdock Charitable Trust is one of the largest private funders of undergraduate research in the Pacific Northwest, and the annual conference attracts students from over 30 participating universities.

  • Dr. Delgado co-authors Commentary in Cell

    Nov 10, 2023

    Dr. Tracie Delgado, Associate Professor of Biology, co-authored a Commentary in the November 9, 2023 issue of the top-tier journal Cell.  The Commentary, "Eary career Latinas in STEM: Challenges and solutions", identifies factors contributing to the underrepresentation of Latina scientists in STEM fields, and proposes solutions to increase their representation and retention.

  • New study uncovers unexpected link between type II diabetes and obesity

    Aug 15, 2023

    Dr. John Douglass, Assistant Professor of Biology, is lead author on a new research study in the journal Cell Metabolism that uncovers an unexpected connection between obesity and type II diabetes. The study, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and University of California, San Francisco, was a follow-up to previous work from Douglass's team demonstrating that fattening diets lead to activation of resident immune cells in the brain and overconsumption of calories. The new study examined glucose intolerance as an early marker of developing diabetes, expecting to show that brain inflammation would exacerbate the progression of diabetes. Instead, the new study shows that immune cell activation in the brain caused by high fat diet actually prevents hyperglycemia, which is very different than what occurs in peripheral tissues such as adipose and liver. This discovery has important implications for identifying drugs to treat both obesity and diabetes, particularly given the current media attention around brain-targeting medications like Ozempic and Mounjaro.