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Opportunity, hard work pays off for John Kuhn

PULLMAN, Wash., —John Kuhn knew WSU was the right fit for him when he decided to study agricultural sciences. His interest in land evaluation and agronomy sparked while he was participating in FFA events across Washington State, and when he met Dr. Kim Kidwell at an Imagine Tomorrow competition in 2008.

John Kuhn_web“It was the direct exposure to the university and faculty that enticed me to attend WSU over the other universities in the nation,” Kuhn said.

After their exchange at the competition, Kuhn job-shadowed Dr. Kidwell at WSU, solidifying the idea that this was something he wanted to pursue.

Recently, Kuhn was selected to receive the top award at the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA.) His paper “Effect of the Gpc-B1 Allele on Grain Protein Concentration in Hard Red Winter Wheat (Tritcum aestivum L.) in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.” won him a Crimson award for Applied Science.

Dr. Arron Carter, Kuhn’s mentor and undergraduate advisor, believes that one of the keys to Kuhn’s success is his “solid vision” for himself. Carter hired Kuhn as a freshman to work with winter wheat, and his interest in the program quickly became clear.

“He’s got that interest so we’ve tried to expand his opportunities,” said Carter. “We started diversifying his projects not only out in the field but in our greenhouse doing some crosses. And, we’ve had him in the lab doing DNA work looking for breeding lines with certain genes for disease resistance.

These opportunities coupled with Kuhn’s hard work have paid off. Though he graduates this weekend, Kuhn has already secured a job with Wilbur-Ellis, a leading international marketer and distributor of agricultural products. He will work with growers in the region to implement new precision agriculture technologies.

“Involvement in many different aspects of agriculture has help prepare me for this milestone in my career,” Kuhn said. “The opportunities to be involved with world-class researchers have prepared me to excel in my field.”

Kuhn hopes his career path continues to impact agriculture locally, national and globally.

“I am so excited to jump into the workforce and help with the problems that we face as a society today and tomorrow,” Kuhn said. “I have been so blessed to get this great opportunity to work for a well respected company and graduate from the best university.”

Recently, Kuhn has been busy, but he says graduating college and starting a career at the same time is challenging, but worth it.

“I appreciate and admire how, when you present John with an opportunity, he makes the most of it. He really embraces it,” Dr. Kidwell said. “John is a loyal Coug and a real advocate for CAHNRS.”

Kuhn was able to get the experience he needed while working for Dr. Carter, who taught him how to apply knowledge to real-world situations. Abbie DeMeerleer, clinical assistant professor in Academic programs also positively impacted and inspired Kuhn with her passion and willingness to listen.

“I strive to be more like Abbie, and all my mentors— they all are successful in their field of study, and successfully help students like me in their journey through college,” Kuhn said. “CAHNRS really does treat you like a family member. I like being referred to by name, not my student ID number.”

For more information about this year’s SURCA Winners, visit

—Alycia Rock