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WSU Research Highlights

March 2021

Ancient blanket made with 11,500 turkey feathers

The ancient inhabitants of the American Southwest used around 11,500 feathers to make a turkey feather blanket, according to a new paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. The people who made such blankets were ancestors of present-day Pueblo Indians such as the Hopi, Zuni and Rio Grande Pueblos.

A team led by Washington State University archaeologists analyzed an approximately 800-year-old, 99 x 108 cm (about 39 x 42.5 inches) turkey feather blanket from southeastern Utah to get a better idea of how it was made. Their work revealed thousands of downy body feathers were wrapped around 180 meters (nearly 200 yards) of yucca fiber cord to make the blanket, which is currently on display at the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding, Utah.

Frequent travel could make 7% happier

People dreaming of travel post-COVID-19 now have some scientific data to support their wanderlust.

new study in the journal of Tourism Analysis shows frequent travelers are happier with their lives than people who don’t travel at all.

Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, an assistant professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University, conducted a survey to find out why some individuals travel more frequently than others and whether or not travel and tourism experiences have a prolonged effect on happiness and wellness.

 

Breastfeeding mothers produce COVID-19 antibodies

Breastfeeding women who have COVID-19 transfer milk-borne antibodies to their babies without passing along the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed 37 milk samples submitted by 18 women diagnosed with COVID-19. None of the milk samples were found to contain the virus, but nearly two-thirds of the samples did contain two antibodies specific to the virus.

“The results indicate that it is safe for moms to continue to breastfeed during a COVID-19 infection with proper precautions,” said Courtney Meehan, a WSU anthropology professor and co-author on the study published Feb. 9 in the journal mBio.

Researchers develop recyclable composites

A WSU research team has created a recyclable carbon-fiber reinforced composite that could eventually replace the non-recyclable version used in everything from modern airplane wings and wind turbines to sporting goods.

Led by Jinwen Zhang, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, researchers developed a recyclable material that is as strong as commonly used carbon-fiber composites and can also be broken down in very hot water within a pressure vessel. The new material could be easily substituted into current manufacturing processes. The research team, including scientists from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, report on their work in the journal, Macromolecular Rapid Communications.

WSU researcher plays key role in carrot crop protection project

Lindsey du Toit has battled pathogens on carrot seed crops for 20 years as a scientist at Washington State University.

She is now part of a new $3 million USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) project, led by Jeremiah Dung at Oregon State University, that aims to defeat a common bacterial pathogen that causes problems for carrot farmers.

Du Toit, a professor and Extension specialist in WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology, will look at integrated pest management approaches to dealing with bacterial blight of carrot seed crops, the methods used to reduce disease pressure in fields, and how the pathogen survives. Her research will be used to finds ways to reduce that survival.