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CAHNRS Talk Tuesday: Vanessa Giramata

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Vanessa Giramata, a junior from Kigali, Rwanda.Graphic of student's interests with a formal portrait photo.

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Agricultural Economics.

Favorite Show/Movie:

Holiday Calendar

Favorite Cougar Tradition:

School spirit is incredible here at WSU. Cougs connect in a way that no other school does. Regardless of where you’re from, you know that when you walk on the WSU campus, you are home. Cougars are like one giant loving family, where each member feels very welcomed.

Favorite CAHNRS Commodity:

Ferdinand’s ice cream is the best ice cream you can find here in the West. During the hot summers, huckleberry ice cream is my end-of-week reward. No other ice cream has been able to beat Ferdinand’s and, trust me, I have tried a lot of different ice cream over the past few years. If you ever visit WSU, make sure to get some Ferdinand’s goodies, and, if you’re in a hurry, just grab a huckleberry ice cream and keep running; you won’t regret it!

Why be a CAHNRS Coug?

CAHNRS has a lot of hands-on majors to offer. In CAHNRS, you are guaranteed to find something you like. Through these different activities, there are countless opportunities to grow and get equipped with skills that will allow you to be successful in your future career. Within these opportunities and activities, CAHNRS is also a family: diverse, welcoming, connected and caring. Everyone here is genuinely looking out for one another and wants you to succeed. College is not only about surviving, but about flourishing, and I strongly believe that CAHNRS not only encourages students to succeed, but to thrive.

Best Student Experience:

It’s hard for me to say just one specific thing that has marked my experience here. I have been able to learn and grow in countless ways, so it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one experience. One of the remarkable aspects of CAHNRS that I can mention are the caring professors who eagerly share their knowledge and believe in you, allowing you to work with them on their projects or, even better, help you on your projects. My advisor is the absolute best and has been constantly motivating me even when I was scared of some classes. She believes in my success and encourages me to get out of my comfort zone to try new things, like becoming a student ambassador. All this encouragement goes hand in hand with the students on campus, everyone is so friendly and always willing to help. If I had to choose a university again, I would choose WSU and CAHNRS again, but this time, with more confidence and no trace of doubt.

CAHNRS Taught Me:

CAHNRS taught me how to aim higher. It has equipped me with hands-on experience and has helped increase my self-confidence. I have grown through the different clubs and organizations that I am involved in, my faculty mentor and my classmates. CAHNRS is preparing us for our future in the best ways; by providing many events for students to interact with industry partners, opportunities that allow us to be intellectually challenged. CAHNRS focuses not only on preparing us for our futures, but also allowing us to live a life that leaves a legacy behind. A legacy for future Cougs and our communities to benefit and learn from.

Award-winning research may help winegrowers optimize harvests

Harbertson handling grapes on a metal chute.
WSU enologist Jim Harbertson takes part in a grape crush. Harbertson’s research could help growers optimize harvest.

Transforming our understanding of the chemistry and innate qualities behind great wines, Washington State University’s James Harbertson, associate professor of enology, is gaining recognition by his peers for helping winegrowers better understand when to pick their grapes and why.

Along with a team of scientists from New Zealand’s University of Auckland and the University of California, Davis, Harbertson studied various maturity stages—unripe, ripe, and overripe—in Washington Merlot grapes. He found that “ethanol concentrations,” or alcohol, outweigh fruit maturity when it comes to influencing sensory properties.

This discovery is significant, particularly to Washington winegrowers as they think about the most optimal time to harvest their fruit. “When to pick the grapes is arguably the most important decision winemakers make,” Harbertson said. “Our research will help winemakers and vineyard managers understand more clearly how those decisions change the chemistry of their wine when it comes to alcohol.”

Published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, the team’s conclusions are also significant as they depart from conventional thinking. Winemakers have long considered “flavor ripeness,” or grape maturity, as one of the dominant influencers on all sensory aspects of wine from flavor and aroma, to mouthfeel and color. Harbertson’s team turns that notion on its head.

“These findings indicate that winemakers and viticulturists may be able to base harvesting and processing decisions on grape sugar concentrations (potential alcohol), with flavor ripeness having a smaller influence on wine sensory properties,” the authors reported.

The implications of the study are far reaching. “The results of our experiment are applicable across a wide range of ripeness and alcohol concentrations,” Harbertson remarked.

At its 2018 meeting, the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) honored Harbertson’s team, citing their study as “Best Paper” in the discipline of enology.

“ASEV is the only American science-based society for wine and grapes,” Harbertson said. “It is an honor to win this award, and inspiring to know that our research is relevant and important to the Society, scientists, and industry.”

For the “Best Paper” award, committee members identify the most important paper in each of the society’s two disciplines, judging for outstanding content and substantial contributions to the field.

Read the award-winning paper here.

To learn more about WSU’s Viticulture and Enology Program, click here.

Moffitt-Hemmer, Gulick join Okanogan 4-H, Master Gardener, Food $ense programs

Headshot of Natasha.
Natasha Moffitt-Hemmer, Okanogan Extension 4-H and Master Gardener Coordinator

Helping residents of North Central Washington live healthier, happier lives, WSU Okanogan County Extension welcomed Natasha Moffitt-Hemmer, new 4-H and Master Gardener Coordinator, and Dexter Gulick, new WSU Food $ense Nutrition Educator, this winter.

Moffitt-Hemmer is a 2016 WSU Animal Sciences alumnus who brings prior internship and work experience in WSU Extension, and also has strong family connections to this agriculturally rich region. She found a passion for agriculture in high school through participation in her local FFA chapter, and is excited to put it into practice in Okanogan County, supporting 4-H youth and adults through club activities including livestock projects, shooting sports, sewing, cooking, leadership and public speaking.

As coordinator of the county’s Master Gardener program, she also helps dedicated volunteers share science-based garden practices with their community through outreach and educational events.

Headshot of Dexter
Dexter Gulick, Okanogan County WSU Food $ense Nutrition Educator

Gulick, recently hired as a WSU Food $ense Nutrition Educator, teaches nutrition education to primary school children in Okanogan County. He works with adult audiences to promote healthy eating and improved food shopping skills, and partners with local food pantries and other social service agencies to improve food education efforts.

“As director, I’m excited to welcome Natasha and Dexter to the Extension team in Okanogan County,” said Kayla Wells, leader of Okanogan Extension. “I invite the community to connect with them and learn more about how the Washington State 4-H Youth Development Program, our nutrition program, and WSU Master Gardeners can have a positive impact on our youth, families and local residents.”

  • Contact Natasha Moffitt-Hemmer, Okanogan Extension 4-H and Master Gardener Coordinator, at (509) 429-7239 or
  • Contact Dexter Gulick, Okanogan County WSU Food $ense Nutrition Educator, at 509-422-7374 or

CAHNRS Talk Tuesday: Cailin O’Malley

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Cailin O’Malley, a junior from Selah, Wash.Graphic of student's interests with a formal portrait photo.

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Wildlife Ecology.

Favorite Show/Movie:

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Favorite Cougar Tradition:

I have always loved Cougar Football Games because the air is crisp, and the energy is high. I love getting to the games early to get the best seats in the house – the front of the student section, close enough to hear Mike Leach himself. The best thing about the football games is the people you see, cheer with, and embrace with every touch down. It’s an environment and feeling that cannot be experienced anywhere else!

Favorite CAHNRS Commodity:

I had the chance to work in the Vogel laboratories during my freshman and sophomore years. Occasionally, on the best days, there would be free produce left over from other research labs. My favorite was, and still is, the pears! There’s nothing like enjoying a fresh pear after a long day of class and work. I also consider myself a Cosmic Crisp fanatic. All the produce here really makes me happy.

Why be a CAHNRS Coug?

Upon arriving on campus, I immediately had research opportunities through IGNITE. I was partnered with a graduate student for this research, and still have a great relationship with her today. I learned the fundamentals of research and am grateful for all the opportunities the research has provided me. The research gave me the opportunity to not only learn about my project, but also learn incredible skills about researching itself in order to expand my professional skills.

Best Student Experience:

I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica. During this trip, I learned incredible skills as well as made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. This was a life-changing experience and I encourage every student to take the risk and embark on an incredible journey like this. While I love Pullman, I now have global experience, something that is integral for being a global citizen.

CAHNRS Taught Me:

I have learned incredible skills to communicate and collaborate with peers and professionals in both CAHNRS and other fields of study. Discussions and debates with agricultural professionals in regards to sustainability are the most fascinating conversations and really inspire me to work with others in agriculture in the future.


New from Extension: Better cider orchards, flood solutions, meat quality

Rainbow over a modern apple orchard.WSU Extension scientists work with Washington farmers, industries, and communities, building new knowledge for a stronger economy, better practices and healthier lives.

Extension faculty are also authors, who every month share the results of their work through peer-reviewed online publications. Newly published WSU Extension guides include:

  • Home Garden and Lawn Fertilizer Calculator (FS324E), part of the Home Garden Series. This guide helps gardeners calculate how much conventional or organic fertilizer to use on gardens, lawns, single plants and short rows; written by WSU Extension Soil Scientist Emeritus Craig Cogger.
  • WSU Carcass Calculator App (FS317E), an easy-to-use guide to calculating yields, grade, and cutability for beef, lamb and pork, by Animal Science faculty members Sarah M. Smith and Jan Busboom, and former Animal Sciences graduate student, now Extension educator Natasha Moffit-Hemmer.
  • A Community-based Response to Flooding (PNW700). Part of the Farmer-to-Farmer Case Study Series, this publication looks at the experience of Jay Gordon, Elma, Wash., dairy farmer and policy director for the Washington State Dairy Federation. After recent frequent and severe flooding events, Gordon has been working in his community to reduce flooding in his watershed. Written by Georgine Yorgey, associate director of WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources; CSANR Director Chad Kruger; and CSANR Research Associate Sonia Hall.
  • Establishing a Cider Apple Orchard for Mechanized Management (EM117E). This guide helps commercial cider apple growers with management options to reduce the need for labor, establishing a fruit wall for mechanized management that optimizes yield and quality. Written by Travis Alexander, postdoctoral researcher in horticulture at WSU’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center; NWREC Technical Assistants Ed Scheenstra and Jacky King; Stefano Musacchi, Endowed Chair of Tree Fruit Physiology and Management; and WSU Horticulture Prof. and Vegetable Extension Specialist Carol Miles.

CAHNRS Talk Tuesday: Alexa Hintze

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Alexa Hintze, a junior from White Salmon, Wash.Graphic of student's interests with a formal portrait photo.

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Fruit and Vegetable Management & Landscape, Nursery and Greenhouse Management.

Favorite Show/Movie:

The Office

Favorite Cougar Tradition:

My favorite tradition as a Cougar is definitely Cougar Football Saturdays. Football season is the best time of year! I love seeing how excited students, family, and alumni get about being together to enjoy some good football. Some of my best memories in college involve spending time with friends at home games in Martin Stadium.

Favorite CAHNRS Commodity:

I’m a big fan of sweet treats and Ferdinand’s Huckleberry Ripple and Mint Chip ice cream are my go-to’s. Ever since coming to WSU, I have loved finding my way over to Ferdinand’s, even on the coldest days in winter to grab some ice cream with my friends.

Why be a CAHNRS Coug?

I chose CAHNRS because I felt the college would provide the most opportunity for me to grow and succeed as a person who is passionate about agriculture. At first, the only reason I came here was because they had the majors I was seeking. That quickly changed, however, as I started making more and more friends within CAHNRS. The students in our college are really close and I really like having that family-type feeling. Between the classes that I am passionate about taking and the friendships I have made, nothing beats being a CAHNRS Coug!

Best Student Experience:

One of my best student experiences has been my part-time employment. Through the help of CAHNRS faculty and staff, I was able to get a job at the seed storage facility on campus. I really enjoy filing seed orders for researchers across the globe and learning about the maintenance behind preserving the seeds of grasses, beans, peas, horticultural crops, and more. I feel this employment provides a stepping stone to potential internships as well as job opportunities after graduation.

CAHNRS Taught Me:

CAHNRS has taught me how important connection is. Without the support of faculty and staff and the relationships I have built amongst them, I don’t know how involved I would be in terms of networking with industry partners and potential employers. The connections I have made since the beginning of my college experience have all been extremely beneficial. They have guided me in the direction of becoming a successful and well-prepared individual that will work hard and do great things for the agricultural industry.


Scientist’s involvement helps sensors send water to crops, right when they need it

Head and shoulders shot of Pete Jacoby, wearing black hat.
Prof. Pete Jacoby

Helping farmers grow food using less water, Pete Jacoby, plant ecologist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, is advancing water-sensing research in his new role with the American Society of Agronomy.

Jacoby was recently named vice leader of the Society’s Sensor-based Water Management Community, which explores and shares research on water sensors, sensor-based irrigation, and how plants and the soil are affected by water and drought.

Growers have traditionally relied on weather data and their own senses to gauge their crops’ need for water. Members of the Sensor-based Water Management Community are helping develop new tools that tell growers exactly what is happening in the air, soil, and plants. They explore sensor technology to help deliver the right amount of water exactly when crops need it, eliminating water waste and ensuring farm sustainability.

“Sensor-based water management is the way of the future in crop production,” Jacoby said. “Society benefits from sustainable, precision agriculture, while the environment gains thanks to growers’ better, informed decisions about plants’ real-time water needs.”

A longtime ASA member, and a former CAHNRS associate dean who’s worked at WSU for 21 years, Jacoby applied for the role, seeing an opportunity to meet and work with like-minded scientists. As vice leader, Jacoby will help the community of scientists review and share information to build a better picture of plant responses, automation, and how technologies can sense water in the soil and control irrigation.

He will also help put together and moderate the group’s 2019 symposium in San Antonio, Texas, and will advance to Community Leader in 2020. Service helps Jacoby’s profession and builds on WSU’s reputation for excellence.

At WSU, Professor Jacoby is a teacher, Extension educator and scientist studying the potential of subsurface micro-irrigation for increasing water use efficiency in production of high value crops like wine grapes, hops, and berries. Based at Pullman, his research activities are coordinated from WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Prosser. He is active in the Irrigation Association, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, and the American Society of Enology and Viticulture. Learn more about Jacoby’s research here.

The American Society of Agronomy advances the profession of agronomy, promoting soil and plant sciences and the wise use of natural resources and conservation to produce food, feed, fuel, fiber, and pharmaceutical crops for our world’s growing population. Learn about the Society here.

Design student uses love of sustainability to inspire fashion show lineup

By Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs

It’s that one t-shirt most people have. The one that jumps out at an unsuspecting shopper who can’t resist but fork over money for the piece of clothing. After being worn three times, the shirt is stretched and faded.

Hoblin runs a piece of gray fabric through a sewing machine.
Danielle Hoblin works on a piece for her lineup at the AMDT Fashion Show.

This type of clothing is what inspired senior WSU Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles (AMDT) student Danielle Hoblin to enter the world of fashion, design, and sewing.

“I really hate throwing things away,” Danielle said.

She likes to take everything and think about it before throwing or giving it away. She asks herself “What could I do with this that’s different and how can I make this into something that’s not going to fall apart?”

Years ago, this wasn’t the case. As a “jeans and hoodie” type of girl, Danielle hated shopping and everything about it. That changed after her first sewing course in her high school home economics class. What she thought was going to be an “easy A type class” turned out to be one of her favorite courses where she quickly picked up sewing.

“In my head, it was ‘I can’t draw. I can’t paint. I don’t know how to do this stuff.’” Danielle said. “But I didn’t realize there was another track to go. Technical work makes a lot more sense to me than the art aspect.”

This newfound hobby became her passion; something she was willing to work on in and out of the classroom. During her senior year, she used save-up ties to sew a dress for a sustainability project. This pushed Danielle into designing fervor.

Four years later, that commitment to sustainability and non-disposable clothing still sits at the forefront of Danielle’s designs. For the upcoming AMDT Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show on April 12, Danielle is preparing six designs that incorporate a balance between “real people” and re-usable designs.

The underlying inspiration for her line came to her while she was visiting an army surplus store with her dad. While shopping for a bag, Danielle caught a glimpse of an old-style, navy jumpsuit. When she looked at the jumpsuit, she knew she wanted to base her designs off that outfit.

Colorful plaid fabric with the words "I can do it myself." written over and over across it.
Fabric that student Danielle Hoblin will use in her Fashion Show designs.

“I really like the jumpsuit look, but I have never been able to pull it off,” explains Danielle. “The elastic waist and ruching on the top don’t fit me right. So, I thought it would be fun to do something with this navy jumpsuit.”

That jumpsuit inspired two different styles of jumpsuits for Danielle’s designs for the fashion show. These two, combined with two other workwear and two formalwear outfits complete Danielle’s lineup. It isn’t just the clothing she was specific about; it was the models as well.

Instead of choosing models that were similarly sized and shaped, Danielle purposefully chose unique women, women who don’t match the stereotypical model to demonstrate the usability of her designs for the average woman.

This is the mindset that Danielle hopes will carry through the rest of her career. As she enters the professional industry, she plans to design clothing that doesn’t fall apart in the first year of use and is flattering on all body types.

“I want to make clothing that is going to last forever, that everyone is still going to want to come back for because they’re loyal to the brand that’s actually serving them well in life,” she said.

Visit to learn more about WSU’s AMDT Department and to learn more about the AMDT Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show.

CAHNRS faculty earn Regents honors, promotion and tenure

Twenty researchers in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences will advance their careers, receiving promotion and tenure in 2019.

Tenure ensures the widest possible range of freedom for scholarly inquiries in teaching, research, and Extension for faculty members.

Jill McCluskey and Scot Hulbert pose in front of a WSU shield.
Jill McCluskey and Scot Hulbert

New Regents Professors

Jill McCluskey, Distinguished Professor of Sustainability and Associate Director in the School of Economic Sciences, and Scot Hulbert, Interim Associate Dean for Research and Cook Endowed Chair for Cropping Systems Pathology in the Department of Plant Pathology, this year were named Regents Professor, the highest faculty rank at Washington State University. This rank can be held by no more than 30 WSU faculty members at any one time, and marks the highest level of professional achievement.

Full Professorship, Tenure, Promotion

  • Michael Cleveland, Department of Human Development, Tenure.
  • Marcelo Diversi, Department of Human Development, Full Professorship.
  • Manuel Garcia-Perez, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Full Professorship.
  • Eric Jessup, School of Economic Sciences, Promotion to Full Research Professor.
  • Jane Lanigan, Department of Human Development, Full Professorship.
  • AnaMaria Martinez, Extension Youth and Families Program, Tenure and Promotion.
  • Todd Murray, Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program, Full Professorship.
  • Pius Ndegwa, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Full Professorship.
  • Mark Pavek, Department of Horticulture, Full Professorship.
  • Shyam Sablani, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Full Professorship.
  • Sindhuja Sankaran, Biological Systems Engineering, Tenure and Promotion.
  • Andrei Smertenko, Institute of Bio Chemistry, Tenure and Promotion.
  • Diane Smith, Extension Youth and Families Program, Tenure and Promotion.
  • Sara Smith, Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program, Full Professorship.
  • Jia Yan, School of Economic Sciences, Full Professorship.
  • Denise Yost, Department of Human Development, Promotion to Clinical Associate Professor.
  • Zhiwu Zhang, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Tenure and Promotion.
  • Kevin Zobrist, Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program, Full Professorship.

CAHNRS Talk Tuesday: Lauren Rooney

Each week, we showcase one of our CAHNRS Ambassadors, a student leadership organization that encourages students to pursue higher education and serves as a liaison between the college and the greater community. This week, we’re featuring Lauren Rooney, a junior from Gig Harbor, Wash.Graphic of student's interests with a formal portrait photo.

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Food Science.

Favorite Show/Movie:

Stranger Things

Favorite Cougar Tradition:

Cougar spirit is contagious! One of my favorite Cougar traditions are the home football games at Martin Stadium. While every game is a blast, one of my favorite moments was rushing the field after winning in overtime against USC. The camaraderie that runs strong on the WSU campus spans far beyond Eastern Washington. It seems wherever I go, I hear a “Go Cougs!” Every activity I have participated in, from standup comedy to fencing, is dripping with Cougar spirit. It’s not just a feeling, it’s a way of life and I absolutely love it!

Favorite CAHNRS Commodity:

My favorite CAHNRS commodity is Ferdinand’s ice cream of course! During my freshman and sophomore years, I had the opportunity to work in the WSU Food Safety lab. While working, we tested the milk used for all of Ferdinand’s ice cream and cheese products for coliforms and listeria. I have even been out to the student run dairy where all the milk is produced. As a food science student, we have toured the creamery many times in my classes and have learned all the steps to produce the ice cream here at WSU. We have learned about the proper pasteurization, homogenization, storage, and (the most important aspect in my opinion) taste. It has been an incredible experience being involved with the creation of my favorite treat from start to finish. I love all the flavors at Ferdinand’s, but Cookies and Cream is my go to!

Why be a CAHNRS Coug?

Being a CAHNRS Coug truly means being part of a family. The support and encouragement I have received from my peers and faculty members has been incredible. CAHNRS is such a diverse community and I have enjoyed meeting people with vastly different majors and mind sets. The faculty I have worked with in CAHNRS have been incredible. Not only are they experts in the field and working on cutting edge research, they are constantly supportive and ready to help me in any way they can. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the WSU community and a part of the CAHNRS family. I have made lifelong friends and feel truly at home at WSU.

Best Student Experience:

While participating in the Ignite Undergraduate Research Program, I had the incredible opportunity to work with faculty and graduate students within the School of Food Science. It was an amazing opportunity to network within the department and learn relevant skills applicable to real world applications. I worked under Dr. Zhu in food safety and was able to be a part of her research on listeria contamination on apples. After my program ended, they hired me to continue working in the lab. I then tested milk samples for listeria and other contamination that is used to produce Ferdinand’s Ice Cream. It has been an amazing experience to be involved with research and I loved my job! I have also interned at Lucks Food Decorating Company for the past two summers. Working at Lucks was a great experience where I learned what it is really like to work in the confectionary industry. Through CAHNRS, I have received countless opportunities to work with wonderful people and get my feet wet in the industry that I love!

CAHNRS Taught Me:

I am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s in Food Science, Certificate in Molecular Biosciences, and Minor in Business. CAHNRS has prepared me to move forward confidently with the skills and knowledge I have gained and learned both inside and outside the classroom. My classes have been very specific, and I have not only learned about food microbiology, processing, safety, chemistry and sensory, I have done it. I have gotten my hands dirty and learned through experience. CAHNRS has helped me network and meet with industry partners at various events which has led to a more refined focus in my life. Being part of the CAHNRS Ambassador Team has helped me step out of my comfort zone and become involved on campus. Through CAHNRS, I have met so many incredible inspiring people and lifelong friends. Through the education, experience, influences and amazing people, CAHNRS has helped prepare me for my journey ahead!