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Shedding light on the world of fungi: Society Fellow Lori Carris

Lori CarrisThe newest Fellow of the Mycological Society of America, award-winning Washington State University scientist and teacher Lori Carris helps us understand the incredible impact that fungi have on our crops, our lives and our world.

One of only three scientists around the world to receive the Fellow Award in 2018, Carris received her fellowship at the 11th International Mycological Congress, held earlier this year in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The honor recognizes outstanding members of the society for extended service and contributions to mycology in teaching and research.

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From CAHNRS News

Johnson receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Dennis A. Johnson of the Plant Pathology Department at Washington State University was recently presented the Lifetime Achievement Award frAward plaqueom the Washington Mint Growers Association.

R. James Cook to receive honorary doctoral degree from WSU

From the WSU Insider

See also “Roots of the Matter

R. James CookSoil scientist, emeritus professor and former dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences R. James Cook will receive Washington State University’s highest honor of an honorary doctorate, in recognition of over 40 years of research on soil‑borne pathogens and his service to WSU and the agricultural community of the Pacific Northwest.

The degree will be granted to Cook at the fall 2018 Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Dec. 8, in Beasley Coliseum.

Cook arrived at WSU in 1965 as a U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA‑ARS) scientist concentrating on soil‑borne microbes and their effects on crops, with a dual appointment as a WSU faculty member in plant pathology. His seminal work on soil microbial communities established WSU as a leader in the area of soil health and biological control of root diseases of wheat and other grains.

In 1984, Cook established the Root Disease and Biological Control Unit at WSU, which was recognized nationally and internationally as a research group within USDA‑ARS.

His research’s direct impacts on crop productivity and disease management was recognized by the Washington wheat growers with a $1.5 million endowment in 1998 that established the R. James Cook Endowed Chair in Wheat Research. Cook became a full time WSU faculty member that year and served in his namesake endowed chair until 2003.

Cook became interim dean of CAHNRS at the request of WSU President V. Lane Rawlins during his final two years at WSU, retiring in 2005 as an emeritus professor.

Aside from a half‑time appointment from 1993‑1996 as chief scientist for the USDA’s National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program, Cook spent his entire career at WSU.

Cook has garnered many prestigious awards and recognitions, including the 2011 Wolf Prize for outstanding scientific contributions to agriculture, election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993, president of both the American Phytopathological Society and the International Society for Plant Pathology, and a founding member and past president of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, among others.

Although he held many honors and conducted significant research, Cook never forgot his service to the farmers, always keeping one foot in the lab and another in the field.

“I avoided telling farmers what to do, but rather, set about providing them with enough understanding so they would know what to do,” wrote Cook in his 2017 memoir, “Untold Stories: Forty Years of Research on Root Diseases of Wheat.”

His dedication to soil health and agro‑ecosystems led to development of the Cook Agronomy Farm outside of Pullman, where Cook’s vision came to fruition for long‑term research into conservation-oriented management and issues like soil loss and direct seeding.

Even in his retirement, Cook continues to present at conferences, assist with National Academy of Sciences outreach, and, along with his wife Beverly, helps lead the “Cougars of the Desert” group in Palm Springs, California, which raises money for WSU scholarships.

Cook holds bachelors (1958) and masters (1961) degrees and an honorary doctorate (1999) from North Dakota State University, a doctorate (1964) from the University of California, Berkeley, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Torino (1999).

Batson Awarded Fellowship

Alex BatsonIn recognition of scholastic achievements, leadership, and future promise in your field, WSU Mt. Vernon has awarded Alex Batson the Seed Production Pathology and Seed Health Fellowship for the current fall semester.  The fellowship is funded from a donation by Richard and Marcia Morrison.  Richard spent 35 years as a plant pathologist in the seed industry.

As a student at WSU, Alex is studying effector genes in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. spinaciae, the causal agent of Fusarium wilt of spinach, in Lindsey du Toit’s program at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC. He started as a time-slip employee in this program in spring 2017, and enrolled as an MS student in fall semester of 2017.  Congratulations!

Provost’s Featured Faculty Member Recognition – Kiwamu Tanaka

Provost Dan Bernardo was delighted to recognize Kiwamu Tanaka as a Provost Featured Faculty Member for the Sept. 29 football game agaiKiwamu Tanakanst Utah.

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WSU research helps breed better-tasting sweet corn in $7.3 million grant

Lindsey du Toit, vegetable seed pathologist at Washington State University’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Lindsey J. du ToitCenter at Mount Vernon, is a co-primary investigator on a $7.3 million, four-year grant to find the genetic traits that will make sweet corn taste better, last longer and grow better across the nation.

The project is funded by the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, led by scientists at the University of Florida, and includes research at Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin, and the USDA.

Demand for fresh market and frozen corn is increasing, and breeders need to be able to provide the best sweet corn seed possible as part of federal campaigns to encourage Americans to eat enough vegetables.

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$5.6 million for specialty crop research protecting grapes, onions from pests and diseases

From CAHNRS News

Two national research teams led by scientists at Washington State University will protect valuable U.S. grape, onion and garlic crops from devastating and fast-adapting pests and diseases, thanks to more than $5 million in Specialty Crop Research Initiative grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.Hanu Pappu

Researching sustainable defenses, Hanu Pappu, the Chuey Endowed Chair and Samuel H. Smith Distinguished Professor in the WSU Department of Plant Pathology, received $3.29 million to study and stop serious pests and diseases harming onions and garlic.

Developing high-tech solutions, Michelle Moyer, associate professor with the WSU Viticulture & Enology program, received an initial $2.4 million to launch a national effort to understand and combat fungicide resistance threatening the $5 billion wine, table grape and raisin crop.

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Lindsey du Toit named distinguished professor

By Scott Weybright,
College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Acknowledging her world-renowned reputation in service to agriculture, Washington State University named plant pathologist Lindsey J. du ToitLindsey du Toit as the recipient of the Alfred Christianson Distinguished Professorship in Vegetable Seed Science.

The award provides extra funding that du Toit can apply to pivotal crop seed research projects as needed.

“We hope this endowment will continue to support graduate student studies and the resolution of complex crop production issues in the many years to come,” said Ken Christianson, Alfred’s son.

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WSU scientists experimenting with paper mill waste to fight soil disease

From The Spokesman-Review
Article by Will Campbell willc@spokesman.com

ROCKFORD – Washington State University professor Tim Murray (pictured) drove a white truck across a farm field where the winter wheat and rye look sick.Tim Murray

Murray scooped a cup of dirt and used a pH meter to test it. The meter revealed what has become alarming to farmers: The soil was as acidic as a cup of black coffee.

Soil acidification is killing crops at a slow but increasing rate in some places in Eastern Washington. It’s a long-term problem that’s caused by adding nitrogen to the soil to increase crop yield. Acidification causes compounds such as aluminum sulfate to form, which is deadly to crops. In the short term, farmers can’t justify the costs of traditional solutions like spreading limestone on the soil because it costs too much to transport.

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WSU scientists clone virus to help stop overwhelming grape disease

By Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

PROSSER, Wash. – A new discovery by Washington State University scientists could help grape growers roll back a devastating virus that withers vines and shrivels harvests.

Naidu Rayapati and his former student Sridhar Jarugula
(from left) Sridhar Jarugula and Naidu Rayapati

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