Promising minds, strong hearts: 2020 student award winners named in CAHNRS

Award-winning students in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Science are changing the world.

Every year, CAHNRS recognizes outstanding students in a range of fields—from agriculture to family and consumer sciences, as well as promising undergraduates and clubs.

The College’s 2020 Student Award winners include students who are addressing agricultural, animal, and societal health, seizing opportunities for involvement on campus and across the state, and aspiring to make positive impacts in their future careers.

Selected students include:

Head and shoulders photo of Lochridge wearing graduate's sash.
Daniel Lochridge

Family and Consumer Scientist of the Year

Daniel Lochridge, senior from Missoula, Mont., is an economics major and business minor studying financial markets.

Involved in many organizations across WSU, including Student Affairs, ASWSU, the WSU Alumni Association, the WSU Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Lochridge volunteered at the Pullman Food Bank, wrote for the Daily Evergreen, and helped lead a group of students in ASWSU’s Environmental Sustainability Alliance committee to teach children at Franklin Elementary School about local sustainable issues.

Lochridge was also a peer mentor for the Terry Sparks Entrepreneurship Program, helping fellow students get the most out of their college experience. He plans to attend law school and found his own legal consulting company for entrepreneurs.

“Daniel’s interest focuses on ways to improve societal functions, not just profits,” said Economics Professor Alan Love.  “With his ability to balance demanding course work, leadership experience, and motivation to give back to the community, Daniel is an outstanding candidate for this award.”

Head shot of Doonan
Katie Doonan

Aggie of the Year

Exploring how to keep people healthy through sound agricultural practices, 2020 Aggie of the Year Katie Doonan graduates this spring with a double degree from WSU’s Organic and Sustainable Agriculture program and in basic medical science, part of the university’s biology program.

A 13th generation farmer and rancher who can trace her lineage back to 1640, Katie Doonan works summers as a volunteer firefighter and EMT while helping her family with harvest.

“I aspire to be a physician and farmer that connects food production with long-term societal health,” Doonan says. “My goal is to create a cohesive system where sides aren’t pitted against each other.”

Working closely with Regents Professor John Reganold, director of WSU’s organic and sustainable agriculture systems program, she took part in research in his lab, and worked on the 30-acre Eggert Family Organic Farm. She most recently worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Crops & Soils, where she studied the effects of a fungal infestation on wheat growth and roots.

Doonan goes beyond the classroom, applying what she is learning to her family’s farm, Montgomery Creek Ranch in California. Here, she is working to expand the farm’s cropping systems of alfalfa and forage crops to small-grain and integrated livestock production.

“What’s most notable regarding Katie is the passion she exhibits in whatever she is doing,” commented Reganold. “Katie is one of the most conscientious students I have known. She is highly self-motivated, a diligent worker, and an independent thinker.”

Head shot of Nalbandian
Elizabeth Nalbandian

Outstanding Junior in Agricultural Sciences

Elizabeth Nalbandian, a Food Science major seeking a second degree in hospitality business management, hails from Jerusalem, Israel, and is fluent in four languages, Armenian, Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

She serves as lead chocolatier at Crimson Confections, teaching students about production and sparking interest in the world of chocolate. An active member of Food Science Club, Nalbandian was also part of her school’s food product development team, joining peers from diverse cultures in preparing an innovative idea in food. She helped develop Palouse Power Soup, a whey-based lentil and rice soup.

Last year, she had the chance to study in Italy and France, participating in a pastry class, furthering her knowledge of gastronomy, and learning about European cultures.

“I will use the knowledge and inspiration gained to create products containing diverse ingredients that help underprivileged populations with nutritional deficits,” she says.

Nalbandian plans to work in company research and development, producing food solutions for nutrition in developing countries.

Head shot of Taylor
Emma Taylor

Outstanding Junior in Human Sciences

Emma Taylor is an economic sciences major from Gig Harbor, Wash., minoring in mathematics and French. She plans to become a PhD economist.

Involved in student government, she served on ASWSU’s Issues and Forums Committee, helping provide educational programming around civic engagement, public policy literacy, and political communication. She assisted in hosting debates between campus political groups, and met with state lawmakers during Cougar Lobby Day in Olympia.

Taylor also worked as a teaching assistant for Prof. Vicki McCracken in the School of Economic sciences, helping students through lab assignments, while assisting Honors College faculty with translation of 16th century works.

“I am so passionate about education and student success, so the opportunity to help students succeed was so fulfilling,” she said.

Last year, Taylor interned with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in Olympia, managing the Washington Crop Weather survey and providing estimates for acreage in Washington and Idaho.

Taylor “has great potential to be successful in her graduate program, and have a successful career in research to inform policy makers,” said McCracken. “She is a committed leader who will finish what she starts.”

head shot of Prins
Abbi Prins

Emerging Undergraduate Leader in Agricultural Sciences

Abbi Prins, a sophomore from Tulare, Calif., exploring pre-veterinary studies in the Department of Animal Sciences and minoring in Agribusiness Economics, holds a 4.0 GPA at WSU and is an up-and-coming leader in dairy nutrition.

A new CAHNRS Ambassador team facilitator, she was part of the IGNITE student research program as a freshman, exploring dairy genomics with Professor Holly Neibergs. Prins is a member of the California Junior Holstein Association, and helps young people attend the association’s national convention, winning the National Dairy Bowl Champion title.

She aspires to help dairy producers make their animals more profitable, more efficient, and stronger genetically.

“I strive to encourage the next generation to get involved in agriculture, educate the public about where their food comes from, and why food grown by farmers has a stronger nutritional value,” says Prins in her award application.

“Food doesn’t appear in the grocery store,” she says. “A variety of people put in a lot of hard work for it to finally get to the grocery store and eventually to your home. As a leader, I have the opportunity to have some power in my words in why nutritional food is so important, and to explain how it is produced.”

Portrait photo of Sikora
Michelle Sikora

Emerging Undergraduate Leader in Human Sciences

Michelle Sikora, an economics major and political science minor from San Diego, Calif., is a CAHNRS Ambassador and teaching assistant in Human Development who is involved in many campus organizations. She holds a 4.0 GPA at WSU, and has engaged in undergraduate research on water laws in the west, mentored by Dr. Jon Yoder.

Passionate about the study of law, she loves being able to combine that study with economics and hopes to focus on corporate law in her career.

Sikora seeks to make significant impact in the world of human sciences.

“I hope to help corporations make smart, as well as ethical, decisions for their businesses and companies,” she said.

“In her time at WSU, Michelle has proven not only her academic potential, but also her leadership and willingness to be involved in university life,” commented School of Economic Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor Alex Prera.

Superior Club

The Horticulture Club provides opportunities for students to participate in plant production, plant sales, workshops, service activities, and social events. The group is advised by Horticulture Plant Growth Facilities Manager James Holden and Instructor Carol Kawula.

The club hosts work parties, a fall apple picking and cider pressing, a floral centerpiece workshop, an annual holiday party to recognize faculty in the Horticulture department, and many plant sales. The club also donates a tree to be planted by the WSU president in the campus arboretum.

From start to finish, students are responsible for success of the club, says Holden.

Every spring, students earn students earn scholarship credit hours by participating in weekly work parties involving all aspects of greenhouse crop production. In 2019, 39 members received $13,367 in scholarship funds raised through club activities.

Active members included Luke Benton, Drew Bowdish, Zeke Brazinton, Erin Chatel, Justene Deubel, Matt Donovan, Michael Dolieslager, Faith Ellsworth, Paola Flores, Alexa Hintze, Julie Justiano, Austin Lenssen, Caitlin Madden, Kaylee Perich, Morgan Riley, David Lay, and Thomas Synoground.


Outstanding Seniors

Agricultural Economics: Vanessa Giramata

Business Economics: Isabella Cristelli

Economics, Policy and Law: Ashley Knauf

International Economics and Development: Jaehun Jeong

Quantitative Economics: Owen Thompson

Agricultural and Food Business Economics: Gracie Dickerson

Viticulture and Enology: Bernadette Gagnier

Agricultural Biotechnology: Grace Murekatete

Landscape, Nursery and Greenhouse Management: Julie Justiniano

Animal Sciences: Jessica Guske

Environmental and Ecosystems Sciences: Brenden Campbell

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Sciences: Eli Loftis

Earth Sciences: Keita Hasegawa

Forestry: Julia Behling

Human Development: Amelia Van Meter

Human Development: Leanna Totten

Apparel Design: Sara Liddy

Apparel Merchandising: Rachael Tang

Fermentation Science: Sarah Harkins

Financial Markets: Logan Dziuk

Food Science: Sullivan Nevada