Getting job-ready just got easier for students with the addition of a new WSU Center. On February 13, the university Faculty Senate voted unanimously to bestow official WSU Center status on the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership (CTLL).
How long does it take the nation’s most celebrated Christmas tree to travel from Washington State to Washington, D.C.? The answer is 25 long cold days—with a few diversions. This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested from the Colville National Forest in Pend Oreille County on November 1 and spent several weeks visiting communities across the country before arriving at its place of honor in the Capital.
Washington State University’s plant science research is at the heart of some of our biggest issues as a society: responding to climate change, growing enough food and the challenges of protecting that food from pests and pathogens. WSU’s endeavor to address these issues stems from its land-grant heritage and tradition of service to society.
In addition to employing top scientists and breeders, a critical part of addressing these regionally and globally significant issues is having adequate research facilities. Currently, WSU-Pullman’s long-standing reputation for leading agricultural research is being challenged by dated infrastructure of greenhouses and controlled environments, some of which are over 50 years old.
WSU Pullman currently houses 50,000 square feet of greenhouse space. However, current and projected research needs require that the university increase the amount of plant growth space and incorporate current technology into its facilities. In 2013 the Washington State Legislature funded and authorized WSU to proceed with a two-phased development plan that would increase WSU’s research greenhouse space to allow expanding research programs to grow more plants. The new facilities will serve many departments, including the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Horticulture, Entomology, Plant Pathology, and the Institute of Biological Chemistry. The US Department of Agriculture will also use these facilities. Expanding WSU’s plant science research with state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities will ensure WSU’s adherence to its mission to advance, extend and apply knowledge to benefit all areas related to agriculture. The facilities will enable cutting-edge research into a wide array of possibilities that could be used to help the diverse cropping and production systems used in the state grow more and better quality products.
The planned buildings will complement the existing Wheat Research Greenhouse facility by sharing a central management area and will form the nucleus of a modern greenhouse complex. The facility is conceived within the goals of the WSU Master Plan and will be the primary hub of the future planned Plant Growth Facility area.
In addition, WSU hopes to replace the older and less functional greenhouses along Grimes Way with facilities that are more energy efficient, allow better control of light and other growing conditions and are arranged to permit a cleaner greenhouse environment. Together, these changes will result in more space and better quality space for carrying out the plant research needed as we develop the new concepts and cultivars needed for the future.
Greenhouses in both of the initial phases will be state-of-the-art and above BSL-1 quarantine requirements. Each greenhouse will be accessed through 42-inch wide doors. Features include: Sealed concrete floors; 30 inch high stem walls; glazed with laminated tempered glass on the roof and double-wall acrylic sheets for the interior and exterior walls. Each zone will be capable of independently maintaining various temperatures, relative humidity and light levels. Structure, glazing and doors will be arranged and detailed so that infiltration into any given compartment is less or equal to applicable code requirements. Each greenhouse zone will have screened natural ventilation and either exhaust fans (non-AC) or air handler (AC) with cooling and heating coils and MERV 14 filtration to eliminate spores. The non-AC greenhouses have a finned tube radiation heating system. A general snow-melt heating system will cover all zones. Greenhouse control will be handled by an Argus Controls System, designed so that it may also incorporate controls for the Wheat Research greenhouses in the future. Most greenhouses will be fitted with a combination of fixed and rolling benches (with a few zones having soil beds), shading system, plumbing hose stations (ITW, IFW, CA, fog) and will have automatic irrigation at each bench. Some rooms will have a total black-out system. All greenhouse zones will have a HID lighting system installed on a motorized canopy with counterweight. Fixtures will be 1000-watt high-pressure-sodium lamps designed to provide 400 micromoles of lighting over the entire zone. Approximately 992 kW of power is required for the greenhouse, including about 200 kW for essential and life safety standby power. Equipment to be included on emergency power are some receptacles, life safety equipment and lighting, natural ventilation systems, heating components (pumps, valves, etc.), fire alarms and sensors, security and greenhouse control equipment.
The initial phase, which will be partly funded by the Washington Grain Commission, is projected to construct 10,500 square feet of greenhouse space on two levels with a total of 10 non-AC research greenhouses, 4 AC research greenhouses and some circulation spaces. This phase will also have 8500 square feet of headhouse and support space.
The second phase, which is awaiting predesign and ultimate approval from the Legislature, includes about 20,000 square feet of greenhouse space on two levels. This phase is projected to include 16 non-AC greenhouse zones and 9 AC zones of the same type and size in addition to headhouse and circulation spaces.
The third phase will involve construction of greenhouses to replace many of the older greenhouses along Grimes Way. Planning for these has begun.
Quinoa—a small grain with huge nutritional impact and a passionate following—attracted researchers, farmers, processors, food experts, sociologists, and government officials from all over the world to Pullman for a symposium at Washington State University, August12 – 14. Worldwide interest in quinoa (“KEEN-wah”) has skyrocketed in the last ten years and attendant controversy has sprouted right alongside.
The Fischer Agricultural Sciences Library may have closed last May, but WSU agricultural, students, faculty and staff are still well served by reference librarian Linda Crook. Crook has been working as a science reference librarian for over a decade — and she’s been fascinated by science for much longer than that.
“My father was a chemistry professor at Western Washington University, so I grew up visiting him in his office and watching him do experiments. He wrote computer programs as aids for students studying general chemistry back when personal computers first came on the scene. I got to help test those programs, which is where I gained some of my first chemistry knowledge. This was before I took chemistry in high school, so it must have been 1987 or ’88, when ‘high-tech’ meant an IBM 8088!”
John Kuhn spends the school year studying agricultural biotechnology in Pullman, but this past summer the Rosalia native moved to Mount Vernon to serve as an intern under Vegetable Seed Pathologist Lindsey du Toit at the Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center.
Cheryl Thonney’s summer internship at the WSU Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension (IAREC) would make most people shudder. Among other tasks for her adviser, extension coordinator specialist Holly Ferguson, Thonney counted thousands of fly maggots from calf bedding samples. But having worked around cattle her whole life, the WSU sophomore took the gruesome task in stride.
Today’s student experience is so much more than what happens in the classroom. One of our points of pride in CAHNRS is our outstanding student organizations such as Cougar Cattle Feeders, Cooperative University Dairy Students (or CUDS, winner for best acronym!), and the Horticulture Club. Students in each of these groups obtain real-world entrepreneurial experience producing and marketing agricultural products at a commercial scale.