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Emerging Research Issues for WA Agriculture

Program Overview
The Washington Legislature began funding the Unified Industry-Based Agriculture Initiative in 2009. The Initiative supports an internal competitive grants program at WSU to address emerging research issues (ERI) facing Washington’s agricultural industries. CAHNRS Office of Research provides these funds to faculty as seed money, with the intent that they will be used to generate preliminary data for individual research programs. It is anticipated that this added support will increase the competitiveness of faculty proposals that are submitted to outside agencies, and will ultimately be leveraged to resolve the problems that challenge the wellbeing of the agricultural industry and citizens of Washington state.

CAHNRS Office of Research is particularly interested in providing funding that will allow faculty to pursue new directions, fill knowledge gaps in discovery research, and otherwise enhance our capacity to address significant issues facing Washington agriculture. Proposals that incorporate a newly formed research team or work toward establishing high-risk/high-reward proof-of-concept studies are especially encouraged. The ERI program is NOT designed to supplement currently funded projects or as a substitute for other funding. 

New Awards for 2018:

Cynthia Gleason – Manipulating Lipid Metabolism in Plants as Novel Plant Parasitic Nematode Control Measure

Carol Miles – Identifying Bulb Fennel Cultivars Suitable for Production in Northwest Washington

Jihyeong Son – Enhancing Food System Sustainability through Effective Social Media Uses by Small-Scale Food and Farm Businesses

Continuing Awards for 2018:

Troy Peters – Adapting Satellite-Based Methods for Estimating Water Use and Crop-Water Stress to High Resolution Images from Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Tarah Sullivan – Plant Microbiome Promotes Soil Disease Suppression in Response to Genotype

Stephen Ficklin – Integration of Large-Scale Genomics, Phenomics, and Systems-Level Modeling for Next-Generation Biomarkers in Breeding

Michael Pumphrey – Late Maturity Alpha-Amylase, an emerging cause of low falling numbers in PNW wheat*


Between 2013-2016, the ERI program funded $2.4 million to support 38 projects. A major goal of the program is to leverage these research funds to attract federal support for issues that complement support from commissions and stakeholders. The 2013/14 and 2014/15 ERI cohorts successfully garnered $11 million in external support for related projects, bringing the lifetime total of the ERI program to $33 million in awarded outside funds!

If you have questions about the ERI program, please contact the CAHNRS Office of Research by email at

*ERI project jointly funded by CAHNRS Office of Research and the Washington Grain Commission