Lindsey du Toit helps onion growers tackle disease, rot
Lindsey du Toit, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, helped onion growers in the highlands of northwestern Guatemala this spring, by invitation from the Farmer-2-Farmer Program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Professor du Toit spent March 12-26 helping farmers manage diseases and storage rots in the Sacapulas region of Quiche, Guatemala. She worked alongside Bill Buhrig, Extension agronomist from Oregon State University. The two visited many small-scale farms in the extremely steep mountains of Sacapulas to learn about production practices, resources, transport, and markets; diagnose diseases, pests, and other problems affecting onion production and storage; and provide relevant training and outreach to USAID Technical Farms Assistants and farmers on disease management and storage practices.
Professor du Toit is a Vegetable Seed Pathologist based at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, from which she runs a research, extension, and teaching program that serves vegetable and seed growers in western Washington as well as the Columbia Basin of central Washington.
Peters’ virtual symposium
explores nitrogen nexus
John Peters, professor and Director at the Institute of Biological Chemistry, and Michael Udvardi, researcher at the Samuel Noble Roberts Foundation, hosted a virtual symposium, “Nitrogen: At the Nexus Between Food Security and Sustainability,” March 8-9, at WSU.
Nearly 300 people from 41 countries took part, from senior scientists to students, two university classes, and industry and foundation participants. Speakers included nine leaders in various aspects of nitrogen research. The symposium was supported by a National Science Foundation grant, “Research Coordination Networks (RCN): Plant Nitrogen Network (PlaNNet); Coordinating Research on Plant Nitrogen for Sustainable and Productive Agriculture.”
Their project aims to coordinate research activities related to the supply and utilization of nitrogen by plants with a long-term objective of enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of nitrogen use in agriculture.
Workshops look at student experience, faculty development
The CAHNRS Student Experience Advisory Council, or SEAC, met on Friday, March 24, for strategic student-focused discussions in four areas: curriculum and classroom; internships and professional development; mentoring and alumni involvement; and student experiences.
SEAC helps develop a career-ready workforce that is well prepared to successfully navigate the workplace learning curve upon graduation. The program also strengthens and expands connections with external partners and CAHNRS students and faculty through engagement opportunities. Learn more here.
Also, as part of the larger Transformational Change Initiative, Denise Yost and Mary Kay Patton, faculty members at CAHNRS’ Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership (CTLL), led the second LIFT series of faculty development workshops that explored values and values-based decision making. Learn more about CTLL here.
Poplars: Renewable energy, ecosystem services
summit in Woodinville
Join WSU Extension professionals and researchers from GreenWood Resources in Woodinville for a day of talks, workshops, and a field trip focused on poplar trees and the environment.
The AHB TREES Summit explores use of poplar tree plantings as a means of linking bioenergy and biomass with ecosystem services to improve water, soil, air, climate, and wildlife habitat.
The summit begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, at the King County Brightwater Education and Community Center. It is free and open to the public.
Extension links Whidbey Island students to WSU Everett classes
Island County Extension in Coupeville is now able to offer students enrolled at WSU’s Everett campus the ability to take certain classes without leaving Whidbey Island.
It is being made possible through a Polycom video-conferencing system that allows students in Coupeville to view a lecture and also interact with the instructor and classmates through a 65-inch screen. This infrastructure will serve students who rely on public transportation to get to campus. The work was highlighted in the Everett Herald.
for AMDT chair
Joan Ellis is April 27
Joan Ellis, chair of the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles, wraps up a 16-year career at Washington State University in May, retiring to Hawaii.
A retirement party for Ellis is 3 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at Ensminger Pavilion. Hawaiian attire is encouraged.
Ellis joined AMDT as an assistant professor in 2001. She became chair in May 2013. Read more about her efforts on behalf of AMDT here.
Center of Excellence launched for better, safer packaged food
Our favorite packaged foods should also be the healthiest for us.
Juming Tang, scientist at Washington State University, is doing his part to help make packaged food safer while using fewer preservatives. In March, Tang launched the first national Center of Excellence for Food Safety using Microwave Energy at WSU.
“We’re working to spread new knowledge and technologies,” said Tang, “so that food companies, small and large, can produce high-quality, healthy prepackaged meals with longer shelf lives, free from pathogens and chemical preservatives.”
Read more here.
Ruckelshaus Center hosts ‘accelerator’ for childhood nutrition
WSU Extension’s William D. Ruckelshaus Center recently hosted the first Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition ‘Accelerator Event’ to improve childhood nutrition programs countywide.
The Coalition’s LiveHealthy2020 program includes a series of events that bring more than 40 countywide organizations together to help identify childhood nutrition program success factors and best practices to reduce food insecurity in Snohomish County.
Kevin Harris, Senior Facilitator of Health Policy for the Ruckelshaus Center, works with the Coalition to help build capacity and improve health outcomes.
Interior Design students go global in Japan
Thirty-one School of Design and Construction students in interior design, architecture, and construction management, along with faculty members Greg Kessler, Taiji Miyasaka, and Jason Peschel, visited Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan for the spring SDC 555 “Global Engagement in Design and Construction” course, March 8-18.
Participating Interior Design students included Kai Davies, Karleanne Iseman and Janet Susan Campbell-Marano.
Awards and Grants
Extension leader receives New Achiever award
Meilana Charles, WSU Kitsap County Extension Director and Strengthening Families Specialist, is a recipient of the 2017 American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) New Achiever Award.
The award recognizes emerging professionals who show through their innovative programs or curricula the potential for making significant contributions in family and consumer sciences.
Walsh to be knighted
into Order of the Hop
Doug Walsh, associate entomologist and Environmental and Agrichemical Education Specialist at WSU Prosser, will soon be Sir Doug.
Walsh will be knighted into the Order of the Hop this August at the International Hop Congress. The Order of the Hop was instituted by John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and Count of Flanders in 1406. In 1971, the International Hop Growers Bureau re-established the Order of the Hop to honor great achievers in the hop industry.
Walsh also received the Sahlin Faculty Excellence for Outreach and Engagement Award. As the statewide director of integrated pest management for WSU Extension, he researches sustainable protection for crops and their insect pollinators. His work over the past 15 years has reduced farmers’ use of certain pesticides by 100,000 pounds per year in the Pacific Northwest.
Crops and industries that have benefited include wine grapes, hybrid poplars, vegetables, dry beans, and alfalfa for livestock.
Walsh has received national and state awards for integrated pest management and WSU Extension service. He averages two WSU Extension presentations per month to stakeholders such as the Washington Mint Association, Hop Research Council, Pacific Northwest Vegetable Growers Association, and others.
Horticulture researchers working on data analysis, vegetable grafting
Two WSU Department of Horticulture researchers are part of multi-million-dollar federal grant efforts aiding cyber-infrastructure and the vegetable industry.
• Carol Miles, professor of vegetable horticulture at the Mount Vernon Northwest Washington Research and Extension Center, is part of a $6.1 million USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant on grafting to enhance resiliency in the U.S. vegetable industry. North Carolina State University is the lead agency.
• Stephen Ficklin, assistant professor and computational biologist, was awarded a $895,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study national cyberinfrastructure for scientific data analysis at scale. Clemson University is the lead agency on the overarching, $2.9 million project. Read more here.
Grants fund 4-H mentoring, help military youth
Extension 4-H educators received a $280,000 grant from the National 4-H Council and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to help provide the 4-H National Mentoring Program in several Washington counties.
Recipients included Pend Oreille County Director Michael Jensen; Pierce County Director Brian Brandt; Extension Snohomish County 4-H STEM Specialist Janet Edwards; 4-H Associate Professor Jana Ferris; Grant County Regional Specialist Lauren Hrncirik; and Spokane County 4-H Associate Professor Gary Varrella.
Varrella, Brandt and Joy Lile, Kitsap County 4-H Extension Regional Specialist, received a $29,500 4-H Military Partnership Grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant delivers 4-H youth development programs for military-connected children and youth as well as programs for military staff and volunteers.
Crimson Award for Miller’s pesticide policy research
Megan Miller, sophomore in Agricultural Education, won the Crimson Award in the 2017 SURCA Applied Research Category for her poster “Development of a High-quality, Low-cost Online Pesticide Policy Module Aimed at Adult Learners.”
Miller completed her applied research project at the end of her freshman year, and her work was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents in December 2016.
SURCA is the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, held March 27.
Lignin Biojet students win $5K in innovation challenge
A student-created business plan for converting the plant material lignin into biojet fuel won third place among 21 teams at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge finals, held in March in Seattle.
The team of Libing Zhang, postdoctoral researcher, and Manuel Seubert, master’s of business administration student, worked regularly with researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to prepare for the competition. They won the Starbucks $5,000 prize.
Read more here.
WSU team 2nd in food science knowledge contest
Members of the WSU/UI School of Food Science College Bowl Team placed second in competition at the University of British Columbia at Vancouver, held the weekend of March 18.
In College Bowl, teams are quizzed on their food science knowledge in a “Jeopardy” style competition.
Team members say they’re excited to try for first place next year.
Students take third for Citri-Crunch pork snack
Four graduate students in the WSU/UI School of Food Science, Ryan Kowalski, Bon-Jae Gu, Maria Dian Pratiwi Masli, and Siyuan Wang, joined by Hongchao Zhang, student in Biological Systems Engineering, took third place in the Fiberstar Global Innovation contest for their product: Citri-Crunch Healthy Savory Extruded Pork Snack.
Travel awards for Cohen, Marshall
Graduate students in the Department of Entomology have won several travel awards, allowing them to take part in their professional society.
Abigail Cohen won the Douglas Hastings Entomology Grant through WSU Entomology to pay for participation in the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (ESA).
Adrian Marshall won the H.S. Telford Entomology Scholarship through WSU Entomology, also to pay for ESA participation.
SDC students win SURCA award for bus shelters
Victoria Page, Hamid Esmaeillou and James Reyes, students in the School of Design and Construction, were winners of the SURCA Arts and Design Gray Award for their work as the WSU Collaborative team on the design of prototype bus shelters for Pullman.
A total of 15 students from the SDC participated in the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities. Topics included virtual reality in architecture, health and design in rural communities, experiential and culturally driven design, and design for behavioral and animal health.
See all SURCA award winners here.
CAHNRS Honors showcases outstanding students, partners
Outstanding students, volunteers and industry partners gained recognition at the annual CAHNRS Honors gala celebration held March 23 at SEL Events Center in Pullman.
Among award winners: Professors Joye and Don Dillman won the Philanthropic Faculty Award; Macy Hagler, student in Agricultural and Food Systems, Agriculture and Food Security, won the Emerging Undergraduate Leader in Agricultural or Natural Resource Sciences Award; Mackenzie Selleg, Human Development student, won the Family and Consumer Scientist of the Year; Kyle Strachila, Agricultural and Food Systems, Agricultural and Food Business Economics student, was named Aggie of the Year; the WSU Forestry Club won the Superior Club Award.
Read about more award winners, outstanding seniors, and nominees here.
Philanthropist of the Year Mel Hamre talks chickpeas with scholarship recipients Andrew Eberle, Cristen Frieszell and Holly Lane.
IBC researchers look at drought in wheat, legumes, red alder, photosynthesis
Researchers in the Institute of Biological Chemistry are working with more than $1.8 million in grants on projects including wheat, red alder, photosynthesis and legumes.
• Regents Professor Norman Lewis was awarded a $570,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to decipher the molecular basis of elite red alder lines and their Frankia alni bacterial symbionts.
• Professor Michael Kahn was awarded a $425,000 Integrative Organismal Systems grant from the National Science Foundation for characterizing a novel bacteria activity that increases legume nodulation.
• Assistant Professor Andrei Smertenko was awarded a $410,000 USDA-NIFA grant from to study cellular defense mechanisms against drought-inflicted damage in wheat.
• Assistant Professor Helmut Kirchhoff was awarded a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for understanding architectural dynamics in plant photosynthetic membranes.