College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

John Kuhn: Ag Science Intern, Plant Disease Hunter

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.John Kuhn

Kuhn was inspired by du Toit when, as a guest lecturer, she spoke about a plant pathology issue in one of his classes. When CAHNRS initiated a “translational internship” program to offer structured undergraduate internships in specific fields of study, Kuhn jumped at the chance to serve under du Toit.

The internship was designed so Kuhn could assist du Toit and several graduate students in their research, while working on his own project. At times he has conducted soil dilution platings, a method to determine bacterial concentration in soil by screening and diluting soil samples, and then placing dilutions of various concentrations onto growth medium. He also spent time watering and transplanting plants and recording data in the field.

Kuhn had an extraordinary opportunity to advance science while learning about the nationwide implications of plant pathology issues when he traveled to the nation’s “Salad Bowl” of Salinas Valley in California. Most of the nation’s commercial spinach seed is grown in western Washington and Oregon, although most of the spinach we eat is grown in California. du Toit was conducting trials with a Californian grower to determine how fungus that is frequently present on spinach seeds affects lettuce that is grown in rotation with the spinach. With Salinas growers buying huge amounts of spinach seed from Washington—up to 3 million seeds per acre planted—and also producing 70% of the nation’s lettuce, the answer has a huge implication for nationwide commerce and the dinner of every American.

John Kuhn in the spinach fields of California
John Kuhn in the spinach fields of California

Kuhn travelled at university expense to California to help harvest a spinach crop, and then take samples of the remaining spinach plants—roots and stems—and place samples in a growth medium to measure the presence of the fungus. While there, he worked in a private research lab and met with growers and field managers. “This trip allowed John to see how cooperation between private and public research can help develop real solutions for agriculture,” said du Toit.

For his own project, Kuhn tried to identify the presence of a specific bacterial leaf blight in Washington. This leaf blight affects beets and Swiss chard. “It can cause problems with yield and the productivity of the plant as a whole,” explained Kuhn. The problem is that this blight, while suspected to be present in Washington, has never been identified through a peer-reviewed, scientific process in Washington, making it hard for researchers to receive USDA approval to work with the bacteria within the state.

While Kuhn was unable to isolate the targeted bacteria, said du Toit, “he had good exposure to complications involved in identifying bacteria. He also learned that multiple methods can be used to identify bacteria, and he learned appropriate control treatments.”

Kuhn was enthusiastic about his opportunity to travel from the wheatlands of his home to the lush, green fields of Mt. Vernon for the internship. “Having access to faculty members off campus is very beneficial, because of the diversity of agriculture in Washington State,” he said. “Working with Dr. du Toit has been an amazing experience. She opens all doors of opportunity and allows students to get hands-on experience, and explains in great detail the practical applications of the research project.”

CAHNRS is more than agriculture. With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, we are one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU. CAHNRS Cougs are making a difference in the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities, improving ecological and economic systems, and advancing agricultural sciences.

Featured Event

Illustration of a woman holding wine near a music band. Text over the image reads: The Auction of Washington Wines Wine and Music Festival, WSU Tri-Cities Campus, June 10, Saturday 6 pm. Learn More. Support Wine.



With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, CAHNRS is one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU.


CAHNRS students are awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships annually.


CAHNRS leads in discovery through its high-quality research programs. In 2014, CAHNRS received research funding exceeding $81.5M. This accounts for nearly 40% of all research funding received by WSU.  


CAHNRS has 39 student clubs and organizations to enhance student experiences and opportunities.

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CAHNRS Academic Programs

Fall undergradsUndergraduate Studies

Check out what our academic departments and programs have to offer, from Interior Design to Agriculture to Wildlife Ecology. We have 13 departments and schools to prepare you for your chosen career.

Grad student dogGraduate Studies

Students have a variety of options to pursue masters and doctoral degrees. Many of these have very specific background requirements, so we suggest exploring the individual programs for academic guidelines.

CTLLCenter for
Learning & Leadership

The CTLL is a student, faculty, alumni and industry partner collaboration for high quality learning and leadership beyond the classroom.


Inspiring Teamwork - Arron Carter pic

Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

It started with a car, a ’69 Corvette Stingray to be exact.

When Arron Carter, the director of the Washington State University Winter Wheat Breeding Program, was in high school his agricultural teacher had a ’69 Corvette Stingray. Every year this teacher would let his favorite senior take the car to senior prom. Carter had never taken an agriculture class before, but he knew he wanted to drive that car.

“Well, if I’m going to be the favorite senior,” Carter said to himself, “I’d better start taking some ag classes.”…

Read More: Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter


CAHNRS Office of Research

Agricultural Research Center

Mission Statement

The goal of the Washington State University CAHNRS Office of Research is to promote research beneficial to the citizens of Washington. The Office of Research recognizes its unique land-grant research mission to the people of Washington and their increasing global connections. The CAHNRS Office of Research provides leadership in discovering and applying knowledge through high-quality research that contributes to a safe and abundant food, fiber, and energy supply while enhancing the sustainability of agricultural and natural resource systems.

Research Update

Washington State University’s screening continues to find no evidence of glyphosate herbicide resistance in Pacific Northwest wheat varieties

In each of the last three years (2014, 2015 and 2016), the field screening process has involved over 80 varieties, 2,000 advanced breeding lines and more than 35,000 individual plots from WSU cereal breeding and variety evaluation programs. Collectively, varieties included in these trials represent over 95 percent of the wheat acreage planted in Washington.

Featured Research

Want fries with that? Stealth potato virus threatens industry

Newly emerged viruses threaten the U.S. potato industry, including potatoes grown in Washington. Several newly evolved strains of the disease known as potato virus Y, or PVY, can render potatoes unmarketable and reduce crop yield. What’s worse is the new viruses are particularly difficult to detect with the naked eye.

Horned larks undeterred by efforts to protect canola seedlings

Horned larks are turning up in droves near Lind, Wash. and decimating newly planted winter and spring canola fields despite multiple efforts to deter them.

In search of the perfect steak

Imagine taking your first bite of a $40 rib-eye steak—only to chew on beef that’s as tough as shoe leather. Talk about disappointment! “A tough steak is not a pleasant experience,” says Frank Hendrix, a WSU Extension Educator and animal scientist.

Workshops to discuss changing water forecast for Columbia Basin

How changing water availability in the Columbia River Basin could affect people, farms and fish is the focus of a series of free public workshops in June. Scheduled for June 21, 22 and 23 in Richland, Wenatchee and Spokane, the workshops give a first look at the 2016 Columbia River Basin Long-Term Water Supply and Demand Forecast.

After landslide, communities rewarded for resilience

Two years after the deadly landslide that devastated the Oso, Wash., area, the towns of Darrington and Arlington were announced April 27 as finalists in the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition.

$11M funds food safety tech transfer to markets

WSU aims to meet growing demand for safe, high quality, additive-free packaged foods thanks to two recent investments in innovative food processing technology based on microwave energy.

Alumni & Friends

Welcome to alumni, friends, and supporters of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). You are a core part of our CAHNRS Coug family and have made major impacts in our college, communities, and throughout the world. We recognize only a handful of them here.

More than 9,000 alumni and friends contributed to our Campaign for WSU, the most ambitious fundraising effort in university history. The campaign concluded in 2015 with $215 million and endless amounts of impact. Here is a glimpse of what transpired in the Campaign.

Although the campaign concluded, momentum continues to make a difference in our land-grant mission and education. On-going investment in time and resources from our alumni and friends helps to advance our best programs, attract the most talented faculty, and support our brightest students.

There are so many ways to stay involved with CAHNRS. Share your news in the college’s magazine ReConnect. Get involved with student success or support our college as whole by making a gift to the CAHNRS Excellence Fund.


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CAHNRS Alumni & Development
PO Box 646228
Pullman, WA 99164-6228
PH: 509-335-2243

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Contact Dean’s Office:
Hulbert 421
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242

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Pullman WA 99164-6242

How many varieties of wheat has WSU developed?



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