Faculty Successes

Two entomology students holding stick bugs
Stick insects fill the hands of WSU entomology students greeting visitors at the 2022 CAHNRS Fall Festival.

This week, I met with the Department of Entomology to learn more about them as a team and the department’s individual programs. The group has had many successes and incredibly strong support from donors and partners. Like other departments, the team is distributed across the state, leveraging opportunities to build collaborations broadly. Across WSU, the faculty are engaged in efforts that span multiple colleges.

It was fun to learn more about the team and hear about John Stark’s induction as a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, Allan Felsot’s induction as a fellow of the American Chemical Society, the growing insect museum collection, NIH funding in the department, and the success of the newer faculty members. Congratulations to Laura Lavine and her team!

The Department of Plant Pathology has had several recent successes. Tim Murray was recently appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Forum on Microbial Threats. The Forum is an ongoing activity. Tim will be one of approximately 30 appointed members from diverse sectors that, as individuals, contribute their expertise towards a common goal of advancing infectious disease control science, health care, and public health policy for the prevention of, detection of, and response to well-known and emerging microbial threats. Dr. Gary Chastagner, aka “Dr. Christmas Tree,” has a timely new Plantopia podcast available, titled “The Science Behind Healthy Christmas Trees.” Congratulations to Tim and Gary!

I meet with a group of Extension faculty this week to be part of a two-day exercise where they will consider how to move forward with greater impact while recognizing finite bandwidth and resources. I will better understand the intent of the event after I participate, but I suspect the goal is to focus energy, determine what can be let go, and communicate needs for success. Letting go is often the hardest part, but it can free up resources and capacity to focus.

The William D. Ruckelshaus Center director search is underway. We reviewed candidates this week and identified who we would like to talk with during initial round interviews. The candidate pool was varied, with many strong prospects. I look forward to the early January Zoom interviews between candidates and the committee. Second round interviews are planned for late January or early February.

I am excited about commencement on Saturday! I have hooded students in the past, but handing out diplomas will be a first for me. It has not been an easy journey for most of the graduates, who have had to adapt to remote learning and perhaps experienced uneasiness about returning to the classroom. I am eager to celebrate with the CAHNRS graduates and wish them well in their next adventures.