Science & Research

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game researchers are testing a new method of fish population control. The idea is to use a female hormone that causes male-born fish to produce eggs when they mature.

By using a hormonal treatment on the fish, the biologists hope to create a monosex trout population that will eventually be unable to breed, which could keep unwanted fish populations at bay in streams around the state.

Brad Smith / Flickr Creative Commons

Ross Winton has been spending a lot of time lately catching butterflies in south-central Idaho and putting tiny stickers on their wings. That’s so they can be identified by scientists who see them in other places. But Winton, a biologist with Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game, thinks now the last of them may have moved out of state for the season. Winton is part of a regional monarch butterfly study. He says scientists know in great detail where a monarch born in upstate New York or Michigan or Northern California will travel in its life.   

ESO/M. Kornmesser

Late last month, scientists announced they had found an Earth-like planet around a nearby star. Faraway planets, known as exoplanets, have been found before but this one is relatively close to our sun and is in what’s called the habitable zone around its own star. A researcher from Washington says that means it could be in a position to support life.

Ian Robertson / Boise State University

A small, flowering plant that grows only in southwest Idaho is about to go back on the Endangered Species List. Slickspot Peppergrass has been there before, in 2009, but its status as “threatened” was challenged by Governor Butch Otter.

After years of legal wrangling, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to put it back on the list next month.

Slickspot Peppergrass is a hairy green plant with white flowers, and is found in just a few areas of southwest Idaho.

Polymorphic Games Studio / University of Idaho

Students at the University of Idaho are using biology to create a new kind of video game. It uses evolutionary principals to make enemies smarter as they reproduce.

It was a summer project for students in the Polymorphic Games studio: Build a video game based on the biology of evolution. The goal was to make a better video game that teaches biology in the background.

University of Idaho

University of Idaho students and volunteers have finished a three-week dig in front of Officer’s Row on the site of the historical Fort Boise.

U of I teamed up with the Boise Veterans Administration Medical Center to dig into the site’s history. Anthropology professor Mark Warner says they uncovered a variety of small items, including buttons off uniforms and bullets and shell casings.

gray wolf, wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

A Boise State academic is studying what it takes for humans and large carnivores to live together in the same environment.

Neil Carter is an assistant professor at Boise State. His study tries to figure out how humans can successfully coexist with large carnivores, like bears, wolves and tigers.

He found that humans are already adapting to living with animals, as we encroach on their territory. But he also found that the animals are adapting, too, to changes brought by people.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The University of Idaho is inviting people to the Boise VA Medical Center to get their hands dirty with history. Students will be digging for the next three weeks on the site of historical Fort Boise and need volunteers to help them out.

NASA, ESA, and J. Nichos (University of Leicester)

The NASA space probe Juno arrives at Jupiter on the Fourth of July.

The probe will study Jupiter’s atmosphere, magnetic fields, and auroras. The hope is to better understand the planet's origin and evolution.

Boise State's physics department will use telescopes to get a close-up look at Jupiter Monday night as Juno starts orbiting the planet.


Mars is making its closest approach to Earth in over a decade, and one scientist says it’s a great time to learn more about the red planet. Boise State University will hold an astronomical viewing party to celebrate Mars Tuesday night.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The road is still closed to a Boise foothills subdivision where the land is slowly sliding beneath some high-end houses. We wanted to get a better understanding of what's happening underground. So, we spoke with a long-time Boise geologist. Not many people know as much as Spencer Wood about what’s happening under the grass of the foothills. The now emeritus Boise State University geosciences professor has been writing about the land here for decades.

What are the foothills?

The Boise foothills are soft. They’re almost entirely sand and silt.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A group of Boise State University students got glowing reviews after the tool they built for NASA was put through its paces last month.

The tool, known as the Zero Operable Interplanetary Delivery Based Ergonomics Grabber, is called Zoidberg 2.0 for short. Zoidberg is a character on the cartoon Futurama.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Mercury is passing between the Earth and the sun Monday, an event known as a planet transit. It’s an event important to scientists that anyone with a special telescope can watch.

The Physics department at Boise State University is setting up filtered telescopes to watch the event.

Professor Brian Jackson says during the transit, the Earth will be in Mercury’s shadow.

McClure Center / Data U.S. Census

Idaho is becoming more diverse because of its increasing Hispanic population. The state has a smaller proportion of Hispanics than the nation as a whole, but that gap is closing.  Most Hispanics in Idaho were born in the U.S. Those are some of the findings of a recent report from the University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy.

Dan and Dennis Robbins / via Boise National Weather Service Facebook page

In the world of crazy awesome natural phenomenon, snow doughnuts rank up there.

Also called "snow rollers," the cylindrical snow shapes form when conditions are just right. According to the National Weather Service in Boise, the elements came together just right a couple weeks ago in central Idaho. The frosty shapes stand out on the landscape.


The Environmental Protection Agency says when sediment gets into waterways, it can be a big problem. The deposits can be contaminated with pollutants we put in the environment, and then those pollutants get in rivers and streams.

Molly Wood hopes to figure out better ways to deal with that issue. Wood is a soil scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Boise. She was recently promoted to oversee the direction of sediment science on a national level.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Even though the Obama administration decided not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act in September, University of Idaho professor Karen Launchbaugh knows the issue is not going away.

"Idaho Microbes"

They’re in craft beer made in McCall, mountain streams in the Idaho back country and dairy farms near Twin Falls. Microbes are all over the state of Idaho and they’re the focus of a new book on the tiny, single-celled organisms.

The book “Idaho Microbes” takes readers on a journey around the state to learn how different microbes affect day-to-day life in Idaho.

Idaho author Steve Stuebner teamed up with Boise State University scientists to write the book. He says it looks at microbes that everyone in Idaho needs to know about.

Curtesy of Ann Kennedy / USDA

Ann Kennedy’s bacterial compound is called ACK55, and it has been shown to cut the amount of cheatgrass in half in just a few years.

The Department of Agriculture soil scientist is getting closer to seeing her discovery registered with the EPA, and is giving state and federal land managers hope in the battle against the invasive weed. Once it gets approved, farmers can begin using it to treat cheatgrass on their land.

Jeremy Brooks / Flickr

AAA Idaho says check your trunk – you may not have a spare tire. A relatively new trend by car manufacturers leaves the spare and the jack by the roadside, as it were, in an effort to get better gas mileage.

Over the last ten years, car makers have been getting rid of the 30-pound spare tire to help meet tougher federal fuel standards. A new study by AAA says more than one in three cars being made today simply don't have a spare.