CAHNRS professors honored for research

Two CAHNRS faculty members, a CAHNRS-led interdisciplinary team of scientists, and a staff member all received Office of Research awards as part of WSU’s Research Week 2019.

The winners come from three different departments and won three very different awards.

“All of these scientists are leaders in their fields and have had a tremendous impact on the world with the work they’ve done at WSU,” said CAHNRS Dean André-Denis Wright. “These awards are another reminder of the effect we have as an institution to improve communities, society, and our world.”

Technology with an Impactful Contribution to Society

Arron Carter

Arron Carter, a professor in WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, knew the wheat variety Otto would be successful.

“Growers are getting more yield, it’s more disease resistant so fewer pesticides and herbicides are being used, and we’ve been told it makes good quality flour,” said Carter, WSU’s Orville A. Vogel Endowed Chair in Winter Wheat Breeding and Genetics. “When I step back and look at it, it’s great to see the impact it’s had.”

That success earned Carter the Technology with an Impactful Contribution to Society award from the WSU Office of Research. This award recognizes researchers for creating technologies that lead to societal impact and high licensing revenue for WSU.

“It’s always surprising and a boost to win an award like this, especially with a recognition to how we’re benefitting the world,” Carter said. “But in plant breeding, your last success is your next target. Now we’re looking to breed even better varieties with higher yields, more resistance. And hopefully we’ll keep making these kinds of impacts.”

Pacesetter Award

Three men pose together in a dark room.
Kiwamu Tanaka, flanked by WSU President Kirk Schulz and Vice President for Research Christopher Keane.

Kiwamu Tanaka, an assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology, has been on a roll. He’s published several journal articles that advance our understanding of plant immune systems, and earned grants that will further his research to help plants fight off diseases.

“I love doing basic science research, finding out how the plant immune system works, but with an eye for how to apply those findings to agriculture,” Tanaka said.

He received the Office of Research’s Pacesetter Award for the work he’s done since being hired as a new faculty member in 2014. This award recognizes a promising WSU pre-tenure faculty member who has excelled in sponsored projects activity, taken the lead and set new standards of achievements.

“The tenure process is always stressful,” said Tanaka, who is currently up for tenure in his department. “But this award makes it feel like my efforts are being noticed and rewarded. This research would never have come together without my great team and collaborators. I’m truly grateful for all the people who have supported me and my team here at WSU.”

Largest Grant Award for FY2019

Jonathan Yoder head shot
Jonathan Yoder, director, State of Washington Water Research Center.

The State of Washington’s Water Research Center leads applied water-related research, fosters education and training of future water professionals, and delivers results to those who manage and use water resources. With a new grant from USDA-NIFA, the Center is working to identify promising emerging technologies and policies, such as computer-facilitated water markets and the regulatory rules that govern them, and to improve water use efficiency in irrigated agriculture.

“This is an exciting project extending the frontier of technology and governance to improve water use,” said Jonathan Yoder, the Center’s director and a professor in WSU’s School of Economic Sciences. “I’m confident that we will create new knowledge that can help us use water more efficiently to benefit people and the environment.”

Yoder leads the team working on this project, called Technology for Trade, that received the Largest Grant Award for FY2019 from the Office of Research. The grant is for five years and nearly $5 million.

“This award is nice recognition of a large extramural grant award,” Yoder said. “But what really matters is what we do with the funding. This diverse and talented interdisciplinary group of researchers at WSU, three other universities, and two private firms are focused on finding ways to make the most out of our limited water resources.”

Contribution Recognition Award

3 people stand posing together, with Cao in the middle holding a plaque.
Susan Cao, with President Shulz and VP Keane.

Susan Cao, a project specialist in the CAHNRS Office of Research received a Contribution Recognition Award, given to a person that made a unique different in the field of grant and contract administration.

Cao, who helps researchers earn grants, said she still loves her job after 25 years working on research grants.

“I’m amazed to work with these faculty members,” Cao said. “I learn so much from them. My degree is in chemistry, but I know more about onions, raspberries, brown marmorated stink bugs, and more than I could have ever imagined. That’s why I love my job, I learn something new every day and people seem to appreciate the work I do.”