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Washington State University

Editor’s Choice: Bug Splat Ecology & Science Pizza

Posted by rdsayler | November 22, 2022
Welcome to this issue of SoE Science News. I’ve decided that as the senior editor and a writer for this issue that I’m pretty much free to put my own twist on our science in the School of the Environment and maybe even take a poke or two at some global science news and views.

Consequently, we’ll treat this issue like a once-around-the-kitchen, science supreme pizza. Plenty of different toppings. Eat what you like and pick off the rest. And if you don’t like the pizza, we’ll at least throw in a sweet dessert at the end.

Actually, let’s make that a full dessert cart. Take what you like. Your choice. And if you’re on a diet and politely demure, best of luck to you! But check back. Sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, keto, paleo, vegan, fasting, we’ve got you covered. The science menu is notoriously diverse and always full of surprises, so who know’s what we’ll cook up next?

That’s one of the first things I tell students at the beginning of every semester. I’m not here to tell you what to think or what to do. That’s your job. My job is to curate just a tiny bit of the wonderful and absolutely amazing world of science and provide you with meaningful opportunities to engage and learn from it. What you do with it, if anything at all, is entirely up to you. It’s your call, as it should be.

Red dragonfly
[Cardinal Meadowhawk (Sympetrum illotum) in the WSU Arboretum. Photo: R. Sayler.]

This wide-open, anything-goes approach means that there are basically two general themes for this newsletter issue. One is my free-for-all editor’s choice and for one of these diverse topics I choose “bug splat ecology.” The other main topic is a special report on climate anxiety in university students.

We all know that the world is plagued by a seemingly endless list of problems, all with potentially tragic consequences for humanity and the natural world. And if that’s not enough, society has decided to reboot an oldie but goodie – the threat of nuclear war. It seems like global destruction never quite goes out of style.

Consequently, there’s plenty for students and people in all walks of life to worry about. Students (and others) worry about jobs, the cost of education, the uncertainty of the future world, and balancing the stress of education with family, relationships, children, finances, careers, and especially, finding a meaningful purpose in life.

Faculty are well aware of the stresses felt by students. We saw it firsthand during and after the Covid pandemic. It affected student engagement and performance and at times it was highly distressing and frustrating for faculty. Cope and adapt as we might, things were largely out of everyone’s direct control.

Some people were discouraged, lost hope, and asked, “Is it [education] worth it?” We fully admit to being highly biased, but we believe strongly that education is indeed worth it. It’s how we advance the human condition and both shape and move into the future, individually, and as a global society.

Well, dang. There I go lecturing again. Sorry about that. That’s one of the dangers of having a faculty member as an editor. We’d better just get on with it. 

We’ll begin with our special report on climate anxiety in students and a couple of examples of how we help students deal with it. Then I’ll tell you what “bug splat ecology” is all about. From there, we’ll give you a tiny peek inside the School of the Environment and show you just some of what we’re doing and thinking in our education and research reports. And then, remember, at the end we’ll give you some tasty science dessert options in our sections on essays and natural history and art, literature, and photography, including a photo exhibit.

But if you’re the science nerdy type, we’ll even throw in some advanced studies for the overachievers among us (and you know who you are…).

See you inside. Or not. Your call…

See: SoE Science News – Table of Contents


Dr. Rod Sayler
WSU School of the Environment