College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Youth get hands-on lessons in biofuels, food engineering, robotics

Carlos Zuniga, doctoral student in Biological Systems Engineering, introduces LMS students to a thermal camera.

Graduate students from CAHNRS’ Department of Biological Systems Engineering brought their research to life for students at Lincoln Middle School in Pullman.

In three 2016 visits, student researchers shared concepts in areas like food engineering, bioenergy and agricultural automation with middle school students in science teacher Marla Haugen’s class.

Be like a termite

“We wanted to help the younger generation know what’s happening in biofuels,” said doctoral scholar Innu Chaudhary, who led five students from Dr. Shulin Chen’s laboratory in sharing their National Science Foundation-funded research on fuel made from sustainable crops. 

To capture students’ interests, the WSU teams put science in their hands. In Chaudhary’s visit, students passed around a riddled block of termite-nibbled wood, illustrating WSU efforts to replicate the tiny insects’ mastery of lignin—tough structural molecules that slow down the process that turns plant matter into sugars and ultimately, fuel.

“Termites eat wood—a lot of it,” said Chaudhary. “We’ve found that termites can remove almost all lignin and have 98 percent sugar conversion in their gut. Our goal is to create a biomimic—a catalyst that mimics what happens inside a termite.”

The WSU students also made hands-on, wood and wire models of plant cells. Youths had to tug and pull to free wooden “carbohydrate” cores from a cage of “lignin.”

“We wanted them to feel how energy-intensive it is to remove lignin,” said Chaudhary.

Lincoln Middle School students learn about biofuels research during a WSU visit.

In the grand finale, two teams of middle school students competed in knowledge challenge that helped them prepare for their own science bowl. Chaudhary was impressed by how much they learned, and how much they already knew.

“This was the first time I visited a middle school in the United States, and I loved the experience,” she said. “I would love to do it again.”

A taste of science

“Everyone eats, and kids love food,” said graduate student Atisheel Kak, who gave lessons in food packaging and processing with fellow Food Engineering Club members. “We focused on the basics and fun.”

Club members asked questions like “Why do you need to process our food?” (The answer: potentially harmful bacteria), then gave students a sensory taste-test of milk products, such as condensed and powdered milk. The lesson helped drive home the importance of food packaging in preserving food quality.

“Students could see and taste the difference,” Kak said. “They told us they didn’t realize how much goes into food packaging.”

Water-saving robots

In a third visit, students peered through a thermal camera brought by doctoral student Carlos Zuniga, president of the Agricultural Automation and Engineering Club.

Talking with students about the importance of automation to our food supply, Zuniga and masters student Chongyuan Zhang shared research and videos on flying drones and apple-picking robots.

“We want to know how plants are ‘feeling,’” Zuniga said. “To do that, we use sensors.”

His special cameras gauge plant health by temperature. Mounted on a drone, the camera could help farmers give their crops just the right amount of water and nutrients at the right time, saving resources.

“The students were very excited about the thermal camera,” said Zuniga. “When you have an interested audience, you’re motivated to work harder and do better. If just one student stays interested in studying automation, my effort has paid off.”

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.

Job Opportunities

4-H Youth Development Program Associate Director (pdf)
Position # 124955

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.


Contact Us

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

Faculty & Staff

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

Lisa Johnson:
Assistant to the Dean
Hulbert 421C
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242

How many varieties of wheat has WSU developed?



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