PULLMAN, Wash.– An Alaskan with roots in the Evergreen State has given Washington State University a check for $50,000. The gift is the first payment on a $400,000 pledge for a graduate research fellowship in the crop and soil sciences department.
Glen D. Franklin, who grew up on a farm near Onalaska, and now works in the division of agriculture for the Alaska State Department of Natural Resources, views his gift as an investment in the future of agriculture for both states.
“It’s a tremendous morale booster in an era of weak federal support for agricultural research,” said Tom Lumpkin, crop and soil sciences department chair. “It shows a level of appreciation for our work and it ties to the community, insuring our focus on things of real benefit, that have real application.”
At the $400,000 level, the gift would qualify for a $250,000 state match through the Washington State Graduate Fellowship Matching Program, increasing the endowment income to support a fellowship for two graduate students.
The Franklin Distinguished Graduate Fellows will assist WSU faculty and scientists in Alaska studying agronomic problems common to both Washington and Alaska. Research projects seeking support from the endowment will apply to the chair of the crop and soil sciences department. Funded proposals will be selected by the chair in consultation with the director of the Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station in Alaska, according to the terms of the gift.
“A key point is that the research has to benefit Alaska,” Lumpkin said . “We also have stated that we would show preference to graduate students from Alaska who are accepted into our graduate program. We expect that each fellow will spend time in Alaska working on some aspect of the joint research projects.”
Could both states really benefit from the research?
Lumpkin, who traveled to Alaska this summer to investigate common interests, thinks so.
“From my initial observation, there are obvious opportunities for graduate student projects on barley, forages and weed control in both field crops and vegetables. Many more opportunities will emerge over time in the area of biotechnology. For example, science is making major progress in understanding and manipulating genes responsible for tolerance to environmental stress. This knowledge would be used to improve cold tolerance in barley and would be beneficial to both states.
Franklin was born in Onalaska in 1936 where he attended high school and graduated in 1954. He entered Washington State in 1956 after serving in the military. He graduated with honors in 1961 with a bachelor’s of science degree. Franklin studied at the University of Bonn in Germany from 1959-1960 and 1963-1964 and later earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in German and Russian philology at the University of Oregon.
He worked for the U.S. government from 1961-1963, taught at the university level from 1965-1974.
Franklin moved to Canada in 1974 and began farming in Alaska and Northern Canada. He has worked for the Alaska Division of Agriculture since 1977.
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