Our biology graduate students work closely with faculty members on research. For information about our graduate students’ research, see below.
For faculty research interests and contact information, see our faculty directory.
White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), caused by the psychrophilic pathogenic fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), has killed millions of bats in the eastern United States since its initial introduction in 2006 and recent expansion into the western United States. Understanding the factors that contribute to the spread of Pd and the risk of infection is crucial for management of WNS as it becomes more pervasive throughout the United States. Bat ectoparasites, such as bat flies and bat mites, are omnipresent in bat populations, yet the relationship between these ectoparasites and WNS health is still unknown. I am studying the relationship between these bat ectoparasites and the skin microbiome in relation to WNS infection risk in Washington State bats. Using next-gen sequencing techniques, I aim to determine whether ectoparasites decrease the skin microbiome diversity of these bats, increasing their susceptibility for becoming infected with Pd. Using culturing methods, I also aim to isolate naturally occurring antifungal bacteria from the skin of these bats that may be valuable as probiotic therapies to treat WNS in local colonies the future.
I am conducting research assessing species composition in local streams using environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding and electrofishing. My study streams can exhibit high water temperatures during the summer which can drive eDNA degradation and ultimately affect metabarcoding results. The goal of my research is to determine how extreme environmental shifts in a natural stream environment may affect eDNA metabarcoding results, eDNA transport distances, and how varying the definition of a positive eDNA detection may alter these results.
I am interested in studying mammal ecology, with an emphasis on species conservation. My research will look at the diversity of mammal species found on native prairie, in comparison to the Prairie Restoration site here at Eastern. Prairies like the Palouse have been primarily converted to farmland, with few native segments remaining. I suspect that there is decreased biodiversity on these highly disturbed habitats. I hope to use my research to show how important prairie restoration is for increasing and maintaining species diversity in this unique ecosystem.
I am conducting research on cirrhosis of the liver from an etiology of alcohol induced liver disease. My research investigates the role of hepatocytes when a liver is cirrhotic and pathway/mechanisms of cytokine signaling that result in fibrogenesis. My graduate research will be based on dictating liver histology and reviewing current literature in hopes of analyzing cytokine signaling in order to manipulate adipose stem cells for liver regeneration.
My name is Christopher Harding. I am a graduate student working in the lab of Dr. Jason Ashley. My research focuses on the effect the presence of a2,3-linked sialic acid on the surface of bone marrow macrophages has on their differentiation into osteoclasts. Currently I am running paired experiments, the goal of which is to reduce the expression of a2,3-linked sialic acid on the macrophage surface. One arm of my thesis focuses on knocking down expression of SIAT4, the gene encoding ST3Gal1, the enzyme predominantly responsible for the addition of sialic acid in the aforementioned stereochemical orientation. The other arm of my thesis is the generation of a bifunctional enzyme which, in turn, will synthesize a dummy substrate for ST3Gal1, preventing the addition of sialic acid to the surface of the macrophage.
I am working under two advisors, Dr. Walke and Dr. Isardi for my thesis; working towards a double benchmark that focuses on Amphibian Conservation and the microbial communities including the antimicrobial peptides to assess the possibility of an important finding that may be beneficial against two chytrid fungus that have been wiping out species of frogs and salamanders across the globe. Within Dr. Walke’s lab, I will continue this ongoing research within the lab, which I helped start as an undergrad to assist Grad student Phillip Campos.
To bring more awareness to this occurrence within our ecosystems around the
world, Dr. Walkeand Dr. Isardiand I will also be assessing amphibian
conservation curriculum across multiple institutions in undergraduate courses to evaluate and assess the efficacy of the curriculum and the desired outcome.
From implementing a CUREs based curriculum on this topic, SNAPS hopes to
gain an understanding of this efficacy of bringing the awareness to
I am excited to continue my research and education at EWU!
I am interested in how success in ecological restoration is defined. More specifically, I am interested in whether ecosystems restored to have all the characteristics of a target ecosystem also maintain the same ecological processes as the target ecosystem. To explore this question in terms of pollination, my research is comparing the structure of plant-pollinator interaction networks between remnant and reconstructed Palouse Prairie sites. Plant-pollinator networks are all the interactions that occur between pollinating insects and flowering plants. Comparing the structure of these networks among reconstructed and remnant prairies sites will provide insight into which flowering plants are important to pollinating insects for the resources they provide, which pollinating insects are important for the reproductive success of flower plants, how these relationships may change as a site progresses through restoration recovery, and if interaction networks are currently being re-established in Palouse Prairie restoration.
My research interests center around invasive plant species and advancing our abilities to control them. I want to better understand how native plants can be used to effectively displace invasive species complexes and subsequently restore native communities. To this end, I am investigating how seed density in plantings of native annual forbs affects species establishment and the abundance of competing invasives. I will also be analyzing the effects of diversity on native forb establishment in multiple revegetation blends being tested for EWU’s Prairie Restoration Project.
I am researching Beaver Dam Analogs (BDA) in the Methow and Okanogan watersheds. Stream incision can lower biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Beaver dams are known to help restore streams with channel incision. BDAs are man made structures that mimic beaver dams. It is unknown whether BDAs are as successful as beaver dams. I am using a Before-After-Control Impact design to compare sites with beaver activity and sites with BDAs over the course of the BDAs being built. I am using vegetation surveys, topography surveys, pebble counts, water time travel, and water quality measurements to determine the success of the BDAs.
“Lichens are complex, symbiotic life habits between fungi, algae, and bacteria. Their extremophile abilities have allowed them to colonize nearly every terrestrial ecosystem worldwide. I am researching the comparative genomics of lichen-forming fungi and their symbiotic associates. Using molecular and genetic technologies is essential to investigating questions about the processes and structures that support these symbiotic lifestyles.”
I am interested in studying various aspects of plant ecology and restoration ecology. Many restoration projects seed native perennial species onto sites to restore native vegetation, but annual native species are often overlooked. For my research, I am exploring annual native species as a tool for restoration and studying soil seed banks of intact prairie remnants in the Palouse Prairie. The results of my study will inform local practitioners if using annual native seeds improves restoration outcomes, advise seed producers which annual species to make commercially available, and provide an understanding of Palouse Prairie soil seedbanks.
My research will focus on the exploration on whether manuka honey impacts antibiotic resistant persister and viable but non-culturable (VBNC) cell accumulation, in comparison to traditional antibiotics.
I am researching tick populations in the greater Spokane area. My collection data is used twofold. One purpose is to create a questing tick density map of Spokane County, WA to visually show the areas that have the highest likelihood of encountering ticks. Also, all ticks collected are tested for disease. The primary disease of concern is Rocky Mountain spotted fever caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. The purpose for this is the public health importance of monitoring local vector-borne zoonotic diseases.
My research aims to use molecular techniques build a genetic baseline that can be used to identify the most likely stream of natal origin for Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi) within the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Basin in the hopes of aiding conservation goals for the species. Many dams in the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Basin lack fish passage systems, a problem which blocks migratory salmonids—including Westslope Cutthroat Trout—from completing spawning migrations to their natal streams and making reproductive/genetic contributions. A genetic baseline, based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), will allow biologists and managers to capture a fish below a barrier, conduct a genetic analysis, and then use those results to make informed decisions about whether that fish should receive passage over a barrier. Improving the passage of migratory individuals over dams will allow them to reproduce and make genetic contributions to populations that may be experiencing decline.