Skip to main content Skip to navigation

CAHNRS Talk Tuesday: Rebeca Velasquez

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 Rebeca Velasquez, a junior from El Salvador.Graphic of student's interests with a formal portrait photo.

What are you studying?

I’m majoring in Food Science.

Favorite Show/Movie:

The Good Place

Favorite Cougar Tradition:

My favorite Cougar tradition is the world-wide Coug spirit. When I came to WSU for the first time, I was astonished by the love that Cougs have for WSU. Alumni, undergraduates, graduate students, staff: everyone seemed to love WSU and other Cougs. Even people who are not from WSU, but have friends or family here, seem to love it. The Coug logo and love for WSU can be easily found all around not only Pullman and Washington State but the entire world. One time my mom was wearing a WSU t-shirt in an airport in China. As she was walking, she heard someone say “Go Cougs!” Then she turned around and saw a group of young people also wearing Coug gear. She was surprised that she could find Cougs so far from Washington, but with the same Coug spirit. We support each other in good and difficult times. I am proud of being a Coug and that’s something that will never change.

Favorite CAHNRS Commodity:

There are many commodities I like from CAHNRS, however my favorite are cheese and ice cream. I love pretty much every product from Ferdinand’s, but those two are what makes Ferdinand’s so unique. When I worked in a laboratory above Ferdinand’s, I would go get ice cream at least once a week. The ice cream has a rich flavor and the consistency is creamy. Cougar Gold Cheese is the most famous commodity in WSU, almost everybody seems to love it. People who do not go to Pullman frequently, like alumni and some parents, are always asking current students to get them Cougar Gold. This is a perfect gift for the holidays. While I love consuming these products, I am also very interested in how they are made. As a food science student, I see the processes that Ferdinand’s uses to make ice cream and cheese. I can tell that they really produce the best for their customers.

Why be a CAHNRS Coug?

Being a CAHNRS Coug helped me meet many new people. They are my friends, peers, staff, professors; each of which has taught me a ton. There are many fun and productive ways in which you can meet people around campus such as getting involved with one of the many of the clubs on campus. In these clubs, there are many opportunities for professional growth through volunteering, touring companies, attending talks and participating in team-building workshops. Almost all the majors in CAHNRS related to agriculture, food, humanities, or industry have a variety of clubs. Through leadership positions and being active in these clubs, students can develop their leadership skills and confidence to then carry to other events on campus. These events help to introduce you to more people and connect you with more opportunities for professional growth. CAHNRS helps students connect with each other to work together for a better future. The skills we learn together lead us to more opportunities and success in our careers.

Best Student Experience:

As a science major, I am really interested in hands-on learning experiences and research. CAHNRS gave me the opportunity to do my own undergraduate research alongside a PhD student. While I get paid for helping this student with his research, he also mentors me while I do my own research. I plan on presenting my investigation in the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) with a poster explaining my investigation. If the judges consider my research adequate, I could receive a scholarship for my research. Working in the laboratory allows me to better understand the concepts that I hear in my classes while also providing hands-on learning experiences. All-in-all, it is very rewarding working in the lab. Working alongside graduate students has also inspired me to go to graduate school, so whether that is my path, or I enter the work force, I am grateful for all the experiences that laboratory work has provided me.

CAHNRS Taught Me:

Washington State University and CAHNRS have given me many opportunities for personal and professional growth. They provide students with a great amount of opportunities such as research projects, conferences, national competitions, scholarships and internships that often result in job offers. I have gladly taken advantage of most of these opportunities. Recently a group of CAHNRS students and I attended the AFA Leader’s Conference in Kansas City. At this conference, I was able to meet a lot of students from universities from all over the United States which helped me see things in many different perspectives, while also making new friends. My favorite part of this conference was being able to meet representatives from food companies that I am interested in. I had the chance to have meals with them, where we had a lot of meaningful conversations. Those conversations helped me see the perspective from their companies on a variety of topics such as what problems the food industry is facing and what they would like to improve about their products. All that information is very important for me to know, because I know what their concerns are, and I could start learning more about those topics now by talking to my professors and reading literature on the topic. A big personal goal is going to graduate school, and if I know what problems the industry is facing, I can come up with possible solutions while in graduate school.

Societies honor science advocate, grad student Halle Choi as Future Leader

Headshot of Choi
Halle Choi

Sharing the importance of support for agricultural research to help feed the world, Halle Choi, graduate student in the WSU Sustainable Seed Systems Lab, was selected this month as a 2019 Future Leader in Science by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

Choi was one of 18 graduate students to receive the award during the societies’ jointly held Congressional Visits Day, March 4 and 5 in Washington, DC.

The Future Leader in Science award recognizes students with interest and engagement in science advocacy.

Interested in biodiversity and evolutionary biology, Choi studies barley and quinoa breeding in Dr. Kevin Murphy’s Sustainable Seed Systems Lab. She currently researches the effects of genotype by environment interactions on dietary fiber in barley, and explores quinoa’s potential to improve nutrition in baked goods.

Congressional Visits Day is an opportunity for scholars to advocate for food, agriculture and natural resources research. At the nation’s capital, Choi raised awareness of the value of competitive grants from USDA’s Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, which supports research, education and Extension to improve rural economies, increase food production, and ensure food safety, along with the benefits of training and support from the three societies.

“While in Washington, I had the opportunity to hear about change happening in our country from professors, graduate students, and industry personnel across the nation,” said Choi. “It was a great opportunity to discuss potential collaborations and coordinate asks for federal support. Attending Congressional Visits Day made me more appreciative of the work our congressional staff accomplishes daily.”

Collectively known as the Tri-Societies, ASA, CSSA, and SSSA are scientific societies that advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy, crop, soil sciences, and related disciplines by supporting professional growth, science policy initiatives, and research publications.

Choi with DC staff and advocate in a senate hallway with flags.
CAHNRS student Halle Choi, left, joins Jason Smith and Hart Clements, legislative staff for Sen. Patty Murray, and JW Lemons, right, crop advisor and member of the state advocacy team, during the Tri-Societies’ 2019 Congressional Visits Day

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.

This study was supported by the Washington wine industry. 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.