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Economic Sciences’ Muñoz-Garcia publishes new textbook on advanced theory

Photo of Felix Muñoz-Garcia
Felix Muñoz-Garcia

Felix Muñoz-Garcia, associate professor in the School of Economic Sciences, authored a new textbook, “Advanced Microeconomic Theory: An Intuitive Approach with Examples,” published in August by MIT Press.

The text offers an introduction to graduate microeconomics that emphasizes the intuition behind mathematical assumptions, providing step-by-step examples that show how to apply theoretical models in economics, finance, and public policy.

Its applied approach provides students with a bridge to more technical topics, and connects each chapter with recent findings in behavioral and experimental economics. A separate workbook, “Practice Exercises for Advanced Microeconomic Theory,” offers solutions to selected problems with detailed explanations.

The book was based on doctoral courses in the School of Economic Sciences and benefits from the feedback of both doctoral students and faculty.

WSU oilseed project reaches 10-year milestone

Picture of a bright yellow northwest canola field.
The Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems Project has been supporting canola farmers since 2007.

The WSU-based Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems (WOCS) Project has surpassed the 10-year mark since starting in 2007 as part of the Washington State Biofuels Initiative and renewable fuel standard mandate.

The state legislature allotted $395,000 in 2007 to fund research and Extension related to exploring the viability of various crops to supply feedstock to the biofuels market.

Four production zones were identified across the state, and a dozen crops, including camelina, canola, safflower, switchgrass, and mustard were planted in trials.

Fast forward to 2017, and the focus of WOCS has changed with the fuel market. Now, the list of crops has been narrowed down to spring and winter canola, camelina, and safflower; all trials are east of the Cascades; canola acres have increased from 6,000 to 60,000 acres; there is strong local demand for canola; and funding has been reduced to $295,000.

Projects and CAHNRS faculty awarded funding for 2017-18 include:

  • Optimizing seeding population of spring canola – Ian Burke, Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Low rainfall cropping systems including canola and camelina – Bill Schillinger, Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Oilseeds in a four-year rotation in intermediate rainfall regions – Aaron Esser, Adams Co. Extension Director
  • Camelina breeding for herbicide tolerance – Scot Hulbert, Plant Pathology
  • Diseases of canola and camelina – Tim Paulitz, USDA-ARS
  • Subsoil micronutrient supply and winter canola root morphology – Isaac Madsen, Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Interactions between pollinators and canola on the Palouse – David Crowder, Entomology
  • Fertility management in winter and spring canola – Haiying Tao, Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Modification of hypocotyl length and seed size in canola and camelina for improved stand establishment – Michael Neff, Crop & Soils Sciences
  • Integrating livestock into dual-purpose winter canola – Steve Van Vleet, Whitman Co. Extension Educator
  • Extension and outreach to convey research findings to growers, agriculture industry, and agency personnel –Dennis Roe and Karen Sowers, Crop & Soil Sciences

Since 2007, the WOCS Project has involved 40 interdisciplinary faculty and staff and 18 graduate students, developed a series of Extension fact sheets about oilseed production, published 35 research journal papers, received the 2014 CAHNRS Team Interdisciplinary Award, and developed a website, and Facebook page, WSU Oilseeds. Ten years and still going strong!

Interior Design students explore sustainable development on Jordan summer trip


Interior Design students explore the ancient treasury site at Petra during a July 2017 study trip.
Interior Design students explore the ancient treasury site at Petra during a July 2017 study trip.
SDC students display a Cougar flag in a stop at the South Theater in Jerash, Jordan.
SDC students display a Cougar flag in a stop at the South Theater in Jerash, Jordan.

Interior Design faculty member Genell Ebbini visited Jordan this summer with six students from the WSU School of Design and Construction.

The trip was part of Ebbini’s summer course, offering her students a hands-on, immersive look at Jordan’s green infrastructure development and environmental policies.

SDC students are building local partnerships with the design industry, non-government community groups and government agencies at the cutting-edge of sustainable development. Experts from leading institutions such as the Ministries of Environment, Public Health and Housing, and Water and Irrigation are engaging with students in the study of regional issues that impact natural resources, availability, ecology, and socio-economic inequality in the built environment.

Students toured projects that demonstrated collaborative strategies in sustainable development while working with the Jordan Green Building Council in the development of green infrastructure guidelines and governing policies.


Food scientists Bernhard, Nguyen promote texture study at Down syndrome convention

Ben Bernhard, left, and Thuy Nguyen at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention in Sacramento.
Ben Bernhard, left, and Thuy Nguyen at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention in Sacramento.

Ben Bernhard, doctoral candidate in the WSU/UI School of Food Science, and postdoctoral researcher Thuy Nguyen attended the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention in Sacramento in July.

Working with his advisor, Professor Carolyn Ross, Bernhard is conducting research on texture perception in children with food texture sensitivities, with an emphasis on children with Down syndrome. Making the leap from purees to more complex textures such as meats, vegetables and grains is important for children’s oral motor development and nutrition during critical developmental years.

Bernhard and Ross will ultimately develop products that can make this transition easier for children with texture sensitivities.

Bernhard is now recruiting nation-wide for children with texture sensitivities.

Association leadership roles, awards for Economic Sciences faculty

From left, Fortenberry, Warner, Gallardo, McCracken.

Faculty members from the School of Economic Sciences received awards and were elected to leadership roles at the Western Agricultural Economics Association’s annual meeting, held July 9-11 in Lake Tahoe.

Randy Fortenberry, professor and Small Grains Endowed Chair, was named president of the association for 2017-2018.

Named directors of the association were Jo Ann Warner, assistant director of WSU Extension’s Western Extension Risk Management Center, for 2017-2020, and Karina Gallardo, associate professor and Extension specialist, WAEA director through 2019.

Vicki McCracken, SES professor and chair of the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles, was elected a Fellow of the association. The Fellow Award honors enduring contributions to agricultural and other applied economics in the western states and the association.

Plant Pathology’s du Toit named VP of Phytopathological Society

Photo of Lindsey du Toit
Lindsey du Toit

Lindsey du Toit was named Vice President-elect of the American Phytopathological Society, during the organization’s annual meeting, held August 5-9 in San Antonio.

Prof. du Toit is director of the WSU Vegetable Seed Pathology Program, based at WSU Mount Vernon, and is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology.

Since 2014, she has served as councilor-at-large to the society, which is made up of nearly 5,000 plant pathologists in higher education, government, industry and private practice. The society advances high-quality, innovative plant pathology research and the sharing of scientific innovations worldwide.

As vice president, du Toit will work with the society’s council, boards, committees and staff to expand membership, promote diversity, encourage communication and awareness, set priorities, and guide growth.

“My role in APS will help bring a better national and international perspective to my program at WSU,” she said, “At the same time, my role at WSU, a land grant institution, will help keep my contributions to the society grounded in developing real solutions for plant disease management.”

Read more about the society here.

Seeking new ways, places to grow tomorrow’s produce

From left, WSU researchers Chad Kruger, Claudio Stockle, and Kirti Rajagopalan
From left, WSU researchers Chad Kruger, Claudio Stockle, and Kirti Rajagopalan are working to find future new sites to grow produce.

Thanks to a changing climate, production of fruits and vegetables may be more challenging in some regions of the country in the future.

To help ensure tomorrow’s fruits and vegetables, researchers with the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) and Department of Biological Systems Engineering are on a four-year, $3.4 million research project to find more places to grow produce, led by the University of Florida.

At WSU, Chad Kruger, director of CSANR; Claudio Stöckle, Biological Systems Engineering professor; and Kirti Rajagopalan, assistant research professor with CSANR, received more than $490,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“The fruit and vegetable industries make very significant investments in infrastructure and logistics to produce, process, pack and distribute products,” said Kruger. “Having better information to understand future risks to these investments is critical to the sustainability of fruit and vegetable production in the U.S.”

“The Pacific Northwest has growing advantages and opportunities that we want to explore,” added Rajagopalan. “We’re excited to help chart new strategies to sustain the fruit and vegetable value chain, while maintaining our nutritious, reliable, and environmentally-sound food supply.”

Pacific Northwest Canola Association begins first steps  

Farmers harvest canola south of Pullman.
Farmers harvest canola south of Pullman in August 2017.

Canola acreage in Washington, Montana, and the Pacific Northwest has reached record levels this year, and interest from producers who have never grown the crop before continues to increase.

The Northwest is the only canola production region in the U.S. without a canola association, so a concerted effort to form one began earlier this year during WSU Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems workshops.

The first major step towards the formation of the Pacific Northwest Canola Association (PNWCA) was achieved in July when a certificate of incorporation was received from the Washington Secretary of State. A steering committee comprised of canola producers, industry members, and university faculty has been working on bylaws, and is now seeking nominations for producer members for the board of directors.

Financial support for completing the legal side of the association was secured from the U.S. Canola Association last year by Anna Scharf, a canola producer in the Willamette Valley.

Karen Sowers, Extension Specialist with the WSU-WOCS project, has taken the lead on working through the process, and reports the steering committee hopes to see the PNWCA become finalized by the end of the year.

Updates will be posted on the WOCS website,, and on Facebook. For more information, send an email to

CAHNRS Coug Interns at Private Connecticut Golf Course, Reassures His Career Choice

By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Summertime brings with it warm weather, farmers markets, harvest season, weekends spent at the lake, and relaxation. Many students at WSU take their last final of the semester and jet away for study abroad trips, family vacations, and jobs so they can make extra money for the upcoming school year. It’s a season that we eagerly await. CAHNRS students indulge in summer festivities and take time to recharge after a long school year, but they also work to better themselves through internships and job shadowing experiences.

Devin Harke sprays water from a big hose on a golf course
Devan Harke waters a tee box during his internship this summer in Connecticut.

A senior studying Turfgrass Management, Devan Harke, dedicated his summer to working as an intern at the Round Hill Club, a private golf course, in Greenwich, Connecticut. There are over 15,000 golf courses in the United States and each one needs trained professionals like Devan to maintain their grounds. Golf course management is much more intensive than one might assume, and this summer Devan works to ensure that the course is always looking its best. His responsibilities include course setup, leading small crews in tasks around the course, spraying fertilizers/pesticides on greens, and hand watering tees and fairways as needed.

Devan says that this internship is challenging him in two ways: testing his practical skills in turfgrass management and enhancing his group work skills. The beauty of internships is that you not only get to practice the things you learn from your classes but you also build valuable people skills in the process. “I have been told by supervisors here that maintaining the course is the easiest part of the job and that managing the crew, budgeting, and scheduling is the tough part.”

This is Devan’s first internship and says that the experience has been invaluable to him. “I have gained so much work experience in the short time I have been here. From managing people to preventative pest practices to managing the stress on the turf.” After spending time on this internship Devan is confident that he has made the right career choice. He hopes that the connections he is making now will lead to more opportunities down the road.

Devin Harke standing on a golf course
Devan Harke

Academic advisors are excellent resources on campus, especially when it comes to finding internships. Devan was forwarded the application to Round Hill Club via his advisor, which ultimately led to an interview and a job as an intern with the golf course. While students’ inboxes are filled with emails, it’s important to remember that opportunities may be overlooked if you don’t take care in investing the time to read them and apply to the internships announced through your email.

Devan’s favorite part of his summer job is that he gets to work outside every day and be surrounded by a sport that he loves. “Those are the two reason I decided to follow this career path, and it has proved to be a positive decision.”

Succession planning workshop for family landowners in southwest Washington

An Extension forester helps a workshop participant learn to take a reading.
An Extension Forester helps a workshop participant learn to take a field reading.

Ilwaco, Wash. – Washington State University Extension will offer the award-winning “Ties to the Land” succession planning workshop this October in Ilwaco.

Succession planning helps families maintain their ties to the land across multiple generations, builds awareness of the key challenges facing family businesses, and motivates families to address these challenges. Extension’s interactive workshop shares effective tools families can use to decide the future of their land.

Workshop participants learn about the legal and economic aspects of transferring a farm, forest or ranch from one generation to the next. Participants receive a “Ties to the Land” workbook and companion DVD, tools designed to help families to continue to improve and direct communication and planning at home.

The workshop will be offered 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m Saturday, October 21, at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, 115 Lake St, Ilwaco, WA. Registration for the workshop is $50 per family or ownership, and includes one workbook, a DVD, and refreshments. A catered lunch may be purchased at least one week in advance for $10 per person. Any attendee who may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact WSU to discuss specific needs at (509) 667-6540.

Enrollment is limited to 30 families. For more information, contact Andy Perleberg, (509) 667-6540, To view all upcoming events, visit