Lynne Carpenter-Boggs grew up on a small farm, but it was when she and her family moved off the farm that she began to appreciate the importance agriculture has on the economy, the environment, and culture.
“My family was part of the farm crisis in the ‘80s,” said Carpenter-Boggs, a Washington State University professor. “I put together after that just how important agriculture is in so many aspects of life.”
The native of eastern Oregon and southern Idaho has taken that experience, and years working at WSU, into a new role as chair of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.
“Lynne is a renowned researcher and teacher,” said Wendy Powers, Cashup Davis Family Endowed dean of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resources. “She will be a fantastic leader for this vital department. And I know that Rich Koenig, who has been a tremendous leader for the department for many years, will provide excellent guidance as she transitions into this position.”
Carpenter-Boggs is the first woman to lead the Crop and Soil Sciences department, joining a list of first-female leaders in the college. Lindsey du Toit recently became the first woman to chair the Department of Plant Pathology. Colleagues Laura Lavine, chair of the Department of Entomology, and Jill McCluskey, director of the School of Economic Sciences, are also the first women to lead their respective units.
Carpenter-Boggs’ main priority is to help rebuild the feeling of teamwork in the department after years of external turmoil, including the 2023 demolition of their primary location on the Pullman campus, 60-year-old Johnson Hall.
“I’ve been in this department for a really long time,” said Carpenter-Boggs, who earned a doctorate from WSU in 1997. “It’s always had a big family feeling. But between the Covid pandemic and losing our building, it’s been hard to keep. I look forward to finding ways to re-familiarize ourselves with each other again and help our new faculty get to know the more senior scientists.”
Carpenter-Boggs’ research focus is on soil science, primarily studying more natural systems of agriculture like organic farming. Her interest in soil science began in college while taking classes on agriculture.
“I didn’t know there was a thing called soil science, I didn’t know there was a thing called graduate school,” said the first-generation college student who eventually earned a master’s degree and PhD in soil science. “Soil is the basic cog in Earth functioning. It filters water, air, and nutrients through the whole Earth system. The deeper you get in studying the soil, the more amazing it gets.”