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A Western professor and his students study a sample of eelgrass in Padilla Bay

Study Abroad Spotlight: Animals of the Galápagos

A green sea turtle rests on a pebble beach.

The Galápagos Islands have provided a treasure trove of wildlife for the Honors College study abroad program. Whether it was pink flamingos in the mangroves, pelicans at the docks, or sea lions, reef sharks and green sea turtles in the abundant waters, life was all around as the group traversed the islands. 

After much exploring, the pending end of the program was on the minds of a couple of the participants at a dinner on Isabela Island.

“In some ways it seems like we just started the trip – but when I think back to the things we did in Quito or in Otavalo, it also seems like that was months ago," said student Anna Byquist. “And we have seen and done so much.”

Fellow student Colette Webb agreed.

“It’s just hard to believe it’s almost over,” she said.

 Read more about the group's adventures in Ecuador and the Galápagos, written by John Thompson.

See a collection of photos from the trip, including animals of the Galápagostaken by Sean Curtis Patrick in our photo gallery.

PHOTO ABOVE: A sea turtle rests on the pebbled shore on Isabela Island.
PHOTO BELOW: A seal relaxes on the beach on Isabela Island.

A seal lays with its chin up.

Meet the 2022 Outstanding Graduates from the College of Science and Engineering

Collage of the 10 Outstanding Graduates from the College of Science and Engineering.

More than 60 Western Washington University students and graduates received Outstanding Graduate honors for the 2021-22 academic year.

Faculty members from dozens of academic departments and programs select one graduate to honor as the Outstanding Graduate of the year. Selection is a high honor based on grades, research and writing, service to the campus and community, and promise for the future.

The Outstanding Graduates from the College of Science and Engineering include:
Robert Butnar, Manufacturing Engineering
Juliana Covarrubias, Plastics and Composites Engineering
Forest Hart Easley, Mathematics
Elliott Khilfeh, Physics and Astronomy
Kate McConnell, Chemistry
Rose Solway, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dani Sprague, Computer Science
Katie Stelling, Geology
Dylan Willis, Industrial Design
Courtney Yoshiyama, Biology

Learn more about the College of Science and Engineering Outstanding Graduates here.

WWU Astronomy & Planetary Science professors share the science behind the new images from the James Webb Space Telescope

With six stunning images of deep space, the James Webb Space Telescope has simultaneously given this world new screensavers and a treasure trove of new information about the universe. 

The images are unprecedented due to the fact that the JWST collects infrared light, which travels in longer, lower-energy wavelengths than the visible light that the older Hubble Space telescope collected. As a result, it can “see” objects much farther away in much sharper resolution than Hubble could. 

For example, the image of gallery cluster SMACS 0723, shown above, not only reveals a cluster of galaxies in incredible detail, it also shows galaxies in the background that have never been seen before, said WWU Astronomy Professor Ken Rines

“Infrared light is so exciting because it allows you to see these galaxies that are really far away,” Rines said. “They emitted optical light (light we can see), but the expansion of the universe stretched that light out, so instead of reaching us as optical light it reaches us as infrared light.” 

Not only has the JWST proven its ability to view massive objects from stars to galaxies in detail, it has also revealed new clues about a distant planet called WASP-96b.

JWST measured the light coming from the star as the exoplanet WASP-96 moved across it. The dip in light from the planet’s orbit is called a light curve.

During these eclipses, the starlight dims regularly as the planet orbits its star. Astronomers can analyze these dips in the starlight to estimate the size, the orbital period and the composition of the atmosphere, according to WWU Planetary Science Assistant Professor Asmaa Boujibar.

Read the full story by Office of University Communications intern Jacob O'Donnell here.

Photo by NASA

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Due to low numbers of students and employees on campus during the summer, the Voluntary Employee Testing Program has been terminated for the summer. Please visit the COVID-19 Health and Safety webpage for employee testing recommendations and options.
A chart shows daily new positive cases for Western employees from July 13-19, with a seven-day average of 1.3 new cases, down 40% from the prior 7-day average.

COVID cases by building - daily update

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Click on the image to see the full list of positive coronavirus cases reported by building, or go here:  Campus Buildings with Confirmed Positive Cases Reported. This data is updated each weekday; the site has a full list of building abbreviations as well.
Remember to wash your hands, mask up and use social distancing whenever you can!
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