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.

FACTS

Scholarships

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

Opportunity

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

Diversity

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

Discovery

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.  


Students

Fall undergradsUndergraduate Studies

Check out every department and program CAHNRS has 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
Transformational
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.

Featured Research

sliced pear

Research for specialty crops boosted by $1.7 million

More than $1.7 million was awarded to Washington State University for specialty crop research including berries, potatoes, grapes, tree fruit, onions, carrots and Christmas trees.
Western bluebird with cricket. Photo by flickr user Kevin Cole.

Weighing the benefits, risks of wild birds on organic farms

Washington State University researchers will help organic growers protect human health by assessing the risks and benefits of wild birds on organic farms. Researchers received nearly $2 million from the USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative to conduct the study.
Moyer Testimony 9.29.15

VIDEO: Jim Moyer testifies on specialty crop research before House Agriculture Committee

Jim Moyer, associate dean of research for CAHNRS and director of the Agricultural Research Center at WSU, presented specialty crop research innovations in Washington, D.C. this fall.
Winter Wheat May 2014 by McFarland

‘A quiet crisis’: The rise of acidic soil in Washington

Gary Wegner first noticed the problem in 1991, when a field on his family’s farm west of Spokane produced one-fourth the usual amount of wheat. Lab tests revealed a surprising result: the soil had become acidic.
short-line

Study: Small railroads important but costly to upgrade

More than half of Washington’s short-line rail miles aren’t up to modern standards, according to a recent study by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington State University Freight Policy Transportation Institute.
A grizzly bear with her cubs at the WSU bear center.

Single hair shows researchers what a bear has been eating

By looking at a single hair, U.S. and Canadian researchers can get a good idea of a grizzly bear’s diet over several months.

CAHNRS Office of Research

Hulbert Hall 403
PO Box 646240
Pullman, WA 99164-6240
PH: 509-335-4563
FAX: 509-335-6751
agresearch@wsu.edu






Alumni & Friends

Holiday Hours & End-Of-Year Giving

It’s that time of year again—time for sharing merry moments with family and friends. As you prepare for the holidays, consider these year-end giving tips below. We know how important the last few days of 2015 will be for meeting tax deadlines, and we are here to help make the process as easy as possible.

Please note the WSU Foundation’s hours of operation through the end of the year:

Dec. 2 – Dec. 23: Normal operation (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Dec. 28 – 31: Although Washington State University and the WSU Foundation will be closed, WSU Foundation gift accounting and gift planning staff will be available by phone from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. throughout this week. If you would like to give a gift of appreciated stock or discuss your year-end giving plans to benefit WSU, please call 1-800-448-2978.

Making a gift online using the WSU Foundation’s secure site is an easy way to make your year-end gift using a credit or debit card any time, day or night. Note: Online gifts may be made as late as 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31 to receive tax credit for 2015.

Thank you for your generous support of Washington State University throughout the year. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Year-end Giving Tips:

Remember, only gifts made by Dec. 31 can help reduce your 2015 taxable income. Please keep the following in mind and consult your tax advisor for specific details.

To Receive 2015 Tax Credit:

  • Make sure your gift is dated and postmarked no later than Dec. 31, 2015.
  • Complete your online gift on or before 11:59 p.m. (PST) on Dec. 31, 2015. We accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

Checks:

The date you deliver or mail your donation is generally recognized as the gift date for tax purposes. Please note, the date on the actual check or money order is not recognized by the IRS as proof of your intent to give on a particular date. Gifts by check or money order may be mailed to:

WSU Foundation
PO Box 641927
Pullman, WA 99164-1927

Note: Gifts may be hand-delivered to the WSU Foundation Town Centre Suite 201 during hours of operation.

Credit Cards:

The date your account is debited is considered the date of the donation. In order to receive a 2015 charitable income tax deduction, credit card gifts must be processed against your account in 2015. Please make sure to make your gift online using your Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

Have your stocks gone up in value this year? Consider making a simple and tax-wise gift of appreciated stock. Please note that mutual fund shares may take several weeks to transfer, and the gift is not considered complete until the shares are received in the WSU Foundation’s account. To give the University stock or discuss your year-end gift to WSU, please call 1-800-448-2978.

Contact Us

CAHNRS Alumni & Development
PO Box 646228
Pullman, WA 99164-6228
PH: 509-335-2243
alumni.friends@wsu.edu







Faculty & Staff

Important Dates and Deadlines

 

A-Z Index of Faculty and Staff Resources:

  • Click letters to sort alphabetically
  • Click individual items to view or download

Contact Dean’s Office:
Hulbert 421
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
deans.cahnrs@wsu.edu
509-335-4561

Lisa Johnson:
Assistant to the Dean
Hulbert 421C
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
janowski@wsu.edu
509-335-3590








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