For many high school and minority students who grow up in agriculture families, leaving the farm is a primary goal. But the WSU Spark program is igniting interest among these teens in rewarding, profitable jobs in ag, where vacancies far outnumber applicants.
“We wanted to show them that they can use knowledge they’ve gained growing up to have an exciting and lucrative career,” said Kari Sampson, assistant director of recruitment and retention in CAHNRS. “We wanted to increase their interest and change their perception of agriculture. And the feedback we got showed we did just that.”
As new director of the Clean Plant Center Northwest, Scott Harper will help growers stop devastating crop viruses before they gain a foothold.
“The front line of the battle against viruses is clean material,” said Harper, hired January 3, 2017, to run the Center, located at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. A virologist and former scientist and regulator at New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center, he was hired following an international search that drew heavily on industry input.
Lauren Hrncirik, 4-H Youth Development Regional Specialist for WSU Extension, just returned from three weeks in Paraguay, where she took part in the USAID Farmer to Farmer (F2F) and Partners of the Americas program.
There, she held extensive youth development training for more than a dozen community educators starting 4-H programs in rural Paraguay.
Learn more about the Farmer to Farmer program here.
Youth get hands-on lessons in engineering research
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.
“We wanted to help the younger generation know what’s happening,” 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.
Late last year, 28 CAHNRS undergraduate and graduate students in Crop and Soil Sciences, Horticulture, Agricultural and Food Systems, and Biological Systems Engineering attended the annual Tilth Conference in Wenatchee, Wash. There, they met hundreds of Northwest farmers and producers and learned about sustainable farms and food.
Recent articles by master’s students Crystal Allen, Corina Serban, Janel Davisson, Brendon Anthony and Tariq Khalil explored animal power as an alternative to machines; manure use on small farms; building intergenerational connections; farm incubator programs; and other topics.
In a joint venture by the department and WSU First Lady Noel Schulz, students in AMDT 492: Computer Aided Design were tasked with developing professional WSU spirit attire for women over age 30. Final designs were presented during an exam session December 13 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe_onjesYFs&feature=youtu.be).
Juniors Leah Schwallie, Jenny Chan and Kaisha Bauer won first place for a Chanel inspired jacket for professional WSU women in their 50’s. The jacket will be manufactured and available for retail at WSU retail outlets. A very close runner up was the team of MaryAnne Gebhart and Kristina Mercado for their pull-over red sweater/ tunic designed for the 50’s demographic. This design is also in serious consideration for mass production.
SDC students partner on Electric City trail, park designs
Students in the School of Design and Construction may see their plans to revitalize Electric City come to fruition this year. As part of the Rural Communities Design Initiative, students developed the Electric City Pathway and Revitalization plan, including a lakeside trail system, parks and sidewalks. It’s nearly ready for review. Community workshops and a public hearing will follow.
Involved were landscape architecture students Tyler Reid and Zochil Castro, and architecture students Krisandrah Crall, Taylor Lynch and Chucky Vallejo, advised by Kathleen Ryan.
Liu, Chi earn grant for recycled textile innovation
Two researchers in Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles won a $365,000 grant for research on recycling cotton waste products into high quality regenerated fibers for consumer goods.
The Walmart Foundation and U.S. Conference of Mayors recently announced winners of the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grants, which this year focused on innovations in textile manufacturing processes.
“Numerous trees are being cut to process into wood pulp for making regenerated cellulose fibers, such as rayon and lyocell,” said Hang Liu, AMDT assistant professor. “But we are throwing away used cotton products, which are a better cellulose resource.”
WSU will develop an environmentally friendly and economically viable solvent system for cotton waste dissolution and fiber spinning. Working on the grant with Liu are Ting Chi, AMDT professor, and Jinwen Zhang, professor in WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.
Ryan and Krikac were co-authors with Ole Sleipness, formerly at WSU, currently at Utah State University, and Susie Gomez, a 2015 WSU graduate, now at Utah State University. Their paper, recently published paper “Rural Interdisciplinary Service-Learning Projects: Frameworks for Engagement within Regional Rural Development Centers”, was honored in CELA’s Landscape Research Record No. 5. The award will be presented at the 2017 CELA annual conference “BRIDGING“ in Beijing, China.
Fellowship helps Mandal explore transitional care
The Pullman Regional Hospital Center for Learning & Innovation has offered Bidisha Mandal, associate professor in the School of Economic Sciences, a Community Health Impact Fellowship for her proposal, “Understanding the need for and scope of transitional care in the Pullman and Palouse region.”
Full-time WSU faculty were eligible for a new $5,000, one-year fellowship from the hospital, intended to advance health care delivery, lower costs and improve patient outcomes.
Transitional care refers to health care that is coordinated to continue as patients move from one care setting to another and across multiple providers. Mandal’s work will examine ways to improve patient health outcomes after hospital discharge and to reduce preventable hospital readmission rates.
Entomology scholars earn USDA research grants
Four members of the Department of the Entomology received prestigious USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Fellowships, out of only about 100 such awards nationwide.
• Doctoral scholar Elias Bloom, the primary investigator, and Assistant Professor Dave Crowder received a $93,232 pre-doctoral grant, “Polycultures and pollinators: does crop diversity promote pollination services by wild bees?” This project explores how crop diversity affects pollination services by native pollinators.
• Postdoctoral researcher Carmen Blubaugh, mentored by affiliate professor Bill Snyder, received a $147,469 postdoctoral grant, “Are herbivore induced volatiles relevant to biocontrol of crop pests?” This work examines how soil fertility practices influence plants’ ability to release chemicals that attract beneficial predatory insects.
• Doctoral scholar Matthew Jones, mentored by Snyder, received a $95,000 predoctoral grant titled “Is coprophage biodiversity the key to suppressing multiple foodborne human pathogens?” He will examine ecologically-based approaches to avoiding pathogen contamination of fresh produce.
• Postdoctoral researcher Robert Schaeffer, mentored by Crowder, received a $150,608 postdoctoral grant titled “Microbial mediation of agroecosystem services.” They will explore how farm management practices affect microbial communities such as yeast, bacteria, and fungi in almond crops, and how this impacts pollinator behavior and performance.