On the eve of “Super Tuesday,” the day when seven states hold Democratic presidential nomination events, faculty at Washington State University in Pullman will share insights and experience about the American political process and secrets about polls and projections. The Feb. 2 forum, sponsored by the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, will be held from 3:10-5 p.m. in the Compton Union Building, Room 212. For more information, see http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4316

Noted chemist Graham Fleming will visit the Washington State University Pullman campus Feb. 2-3 as part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program. Fleming is the Melvin Calvin Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and director of the physical bioscience division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. He will meet with WSU students and faculty members, take part in classroom discussions and give a joint physics and chemistry department colloquium. For more details, see http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4323

In the news

Ready to work? As the job market changes, are the skills of people seeking employment keeping pace? Alan Hardcastle and Dennis Olson of Washington State University’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center-Puget Sound Division researched and wrote a report for the Sumner School District on the skills that graduates would require in the emerging Washington labor market. They found that employers in industries likely to see substantial job growth are seeking a new combination of skill sets from applicants and current employees. Employers in all industry sectors are demanding that applicants and current employees acquire and apply skills in problem solving, teamwork and project management as well as perform other nontechnical workplace functions that require a solid combination of academic and basic workplace skills.  Yet, the researchers found that employers continue to report that they are not finding candidates who combine the required technical skills with the interpersonal and problem-solving skills they need to be productive. Hardcastle can be reached to discuss these findings at 360.586.2277 or hardcast@wsu.edu; Olson is available at 360.586.9292 or dennisgo@wsu.edu.

It’s always computer virus season: While we only have to worry about the latest strain of flu in the winter months, the season for computer viruses is anytime. Last week, the latest viruses snarled computers worldwide. Robert Mahan, a computer security instructor at WSU Tri-Cities and a researcher at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said like their biological counterparts, computer viruses enter a host (your computer), infect it, carry out their programmed functions and seek new hosts to infect. Computer programmers create these viruses by crafting a program and releasing it to the Internet. Tracking the virus back to the original source is difficult because originators hide their tracks to avoid prosecution. The main anti-virus effort has been applied to the development of immunization methods. The trouble is that each new computer virus is different, like each new flu strain is different. Consequently, the anti-virus programs are only effective against known strains. However, not all the news is bad. Mahan said there are some things a user can do to protect their computers from viruses and other threats. Mahan has written “A Guide for Home Computer Security,” which is available from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at http://www.pnl.gov/main/homeguide_public.pdf. Mahan can be reached at 509.375.2475 or robert.mahan@pnl.gov