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Undergrad Research, Irrigation, Academy of Science, Wine Auction

Posted by | December 3, 2008

Students Get Their Hands On Science

An unprecedented number of undergraduate students in WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) will have the opportunity to conduct hands-on science thanks to a series of grants from the college specifically aimed at supporting undergraduate research.

“Experiential learning and applying basic science and research to real-world issues and challenges are cornerstones of what our college is about,” said Kim Kidwell, CAHNRS associate dean of academic programs. “The lessons learned by actually conducting research are much more impactful than those learned solely by listening in a lecture hall.”

More than 30 student research projects are being funded for the 2008-09 school year.

“The student projects were chosen for funding based on the soundness of the science and research methods they proposed,” Kidwell explained. “The level of quality and innovation is impressive.”

The students, working in teams with CAHNRS faculty and graduate students, will conduct research on everything from developing wheat for celiac patients and dietary health to enhancing seed germination in sweet cherry breeding programs, from environmental design of the modern golf course to attribution of blame to victims of sexual abuse.

The undergraduate research grant program is jointly supported by the WSU’s Agricultural Research Center and the CAHNRS Office of Academic Programs.

The future of research is now: more than 30 students have their projects funded.

The future of research is now: more than 30 students have their projects funded

Innovating Irrigation

A study of big gun versus boom irrigation systems in Skagit County may help growers save money as well as water. In summer 2007, Don McMoran, agriculture and natural resources educator at WSU Extension Skagit County, and Troy Peters, extension irrigation specialist at WSU Prosser, teamed up to compare the efficiency and uniformity of big gun and boom irrigation systems. McMoran and Peters conducted evaluations on two big gun systems and two boom systems on potato fields.

“The biggest difference was in water consumption,” McMoran said. “We found that you can save 10.9 million gallons of water per year (with the boom system) based on the irrigation of 100 acres at 9 inches per year.”

The boom system is closer to the crop, so the water is only traveling in the air for a fraction of a second. The big gun’s lower efficiency is due to the much longer time the water spends traveling from the nozzle to the soil, which makes the water more susceptible to evaporation and wind drift.

“It’s hard to see it happening because water vapor is invisible,” Peters said. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Despite the significantly higher cost of boom irrigation systems — $10,000-$20,000 more — the study shows that growers will save not only water but energy too. “The boom systems use only half the pressure the big guns use,” McMoran said. “Therefore, they only consume half the fuel or energy. By switching you could save $6,000 to $9,000 per year.”

McMoran and Peters have received worldwide accolades for their research, which will not only help local growers but also leave more water for the natural environment, Peters said.

“It’s going to bring awareness to the new ways and technology of irrigation,” McMoran said.

Adapted from an article by Camille Villanueva, WSU Today Intern. To read the complete article, please visit:

Irrigation study shows ways to save water, energy and money

Irrigation study shows ways to save water, energy and money

CAHNRS Faculty Inducted into Washington State Academy of Sciences

R. James Cook and Diter von Wettstein, two of the four WSU professors inducted into the founding class of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, have roots in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.

R. James Cook, professor emeritus of plant pathology and crop and soil sciences, and Diter von Wettstein, the R.A. Nilan Distinguished Professor in the Department or Crop and Soil Sciences, were inducted into the founding class along with Anjan Bose, Regents professor in electrical engineering and computer science, and Guy Palmer, Regents professor of microbiology and pathology.

The academy is a nonprofit entity providing scientific analysis and recommendations to the policy makers and legislators in the state.

Bose, Cook and Palmer will also be part of the board of directors in charge of setting policies and guiding WSAS. The board of directors is comprised of 12 faculty members from WSU and the University of Washington, and representatives from the state health department, Museum of Flight, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bechtel Corporation.

WSAS is designed to provide objective, expert scientific, technical and engineering counsel to Washington’s policymakers. To do so, it has recruited 104 scientists from industry and academia, and from a broad range of specialized fields. In commissioned study committees, these scientists will arrange for and lead analyses of the technical issues central to important policy questions and will issue authoritative reports to guide public decision-making.

The WSAS was authorized by the Legislature and incorporated in 2007. Among its first activities, WSAS assisted the Puget Sound Partnership in the formation of its Science Panel.

For more information, please visit:

Two CAHNRS faculty members are among the founding members of the new Washington State Academy of Sciences

Two CAHNRS faculty members are among the founding members of the new Washington State Academy of Sciences

A Celebration of Washington Wines, Jan 24

Etched magnums, collectible cabernets and syrahs, exclusive dinners and wine tastings, exciting adventures and romantic getaways are among the items that will be up for bid at the eighth annual “A Celebration of Washington Wines” auction on Saturday, Jan. 24, starting at 6 p.m. The black-tie event held at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville will include a reception, silent and live auctions, and a gourmet dinner.

The annual gala, which is expected to draw a capacity crowd, benefits the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Program. In its seven-year history, the event has grossed more than $1 million to benefit the WSU program that trains aspiring wine makers and grape growers. In each of the last two years the event has raised more than $235,000 toward an endowment for a chair in the Viticulture and Enology Program at WSU. The university recently announced that internationally known enologist Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling will assume that position in February.

Tickets are $250 per person and can be reserved by calling Linda Bailey at (509) 335-7772 or by e-mail to

For more information on the event, including details on donating to the auction and sponsorship opportunities, visit

The 2009 Celebration of Washington Wines is Jan. 24. Tickets are on sale now.

The 2009 Celebration of Washington Wines is Jan. 24. Tickets are on sale now.