Crop Science Graduate Students

Shahbaz Ahmed standing in water with mountains behind him

Shahbaz Ahmed

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
shahbaz.ahmed@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Michael Neff

I grew up on a small family farm in the middle of a desert where seeing my father growing crops in tough environmental conditions developed my love for the plants. I completed my undergrad and masters in Plant Breeding and Genetics at University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan. I came to the WSU in Fall, 2016 for my Ph.D. where I aim to use CRISPR-Cas9 and other molecular techniques in Neff’s lab to modify and study genes for their role in seed and seedling traits in Arabidopsis and Canola. I aim to learn more about crop improvement techniques to develop varieties with increased seed and seedling vigor.

Educational background: B.S. (Hons) Plant Breeding and Genetics, M.S. (Hons) Plant Breeding and Genetics


 

Esraa Alalwan

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
esraa.alwan@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Michael Pumphrey


 

Md Nurul Amin standing in front of a waterfall

Md Nurul Amin

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
mdnurul.amin@email.wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Rebecca McGee

I am from Kurigram, a small town of Bangladesh. I love the greenery of the countryside so much that I completed my bachelors and masters in agricultural science from Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University in 2009. I have been working for Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute as a scientist since 2009 and started my Ph.D. program at Washington State University in the Spring of 2014. I am working with Dr. Rebecca McGee, focusing on developing phenotyping protocol for screening heat tolerant cultivars in lentil.

Educational background: M.S. in Plant Breeding (Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University)


 

Aaron Appleby

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
aaron.appleby@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs


 

Raul Arroyo

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
raul.arroyo@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Ian Burke


 

Pragya Asthana

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
pragya.asthana@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Ian Burke


 

Jared Beuschlein

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
jared.beuschlein@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Ian Burke


 

Chun-Peng Chen

Chun-Peng (James) Chen

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
chun-peng.chen@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Zhiwu Zhang

James is a Ph.D. student, majoring in Crop & Soil Science at Washington State University. He is interested in Bioinformatics, currently working on developing the software iPat that integrates several tools for genome wide association studies (GWAS) into a graphic user interface (GUI).

James received his B.S. in National Taiwan University (NTU) in 2014. One of his previous project focus on the prediction of customers’ behavior based on Bayes’ theorem, and another project is developing a pipeline which can automatically do batch processing of sequences analysis.

He has a wide range of leisure activities, such as photography, playing tennis and badminton, watching films and playing piano.

Educational background: B.S. in Agronomy – National Taiwan University, Taiwan


 

Halle Choi in the Clearwater National Forest

Halle Choi

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
halle.choi@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kevin Murphy

I completed my B.S. in Biology in Philadelphia, PA at Drexel University. While there I worked in the Fisheries and Entomology Departments at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and in the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program (BBPP) studying primates and marine turtles. After graduation I traveled to Equatorial Guinea to take data for the BBPP. The main threat to primates and marine turtles in the area is poaching for human consumption. In many parts of the world, agriculture and hunting are primary causes for loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat. My interest in biodiversity and evolutionary biology led me to research plant breeding, which is how I came to study barley and quinoa breeding in the Sustainable Seeds Lab here at Washington State University. I have one project studying the effects of genotype by environment interactions on beta glucan, mineral and starch content in barley. My other master’s project focuses on quinoa processing and its ability to improve nutritional quality in baked goods. I started working in the lab in May 2017 and began classes in the fall. The Sustainable Seeds Lab is run by Dr. Kevin Murphy and is filled with great coworkers from interesting places. We currently have local projects in the Palouse, as well as foreign projects in Malawi, Rwanda and Ecuador. If you have an interest in improving agricultural practices worldwide and making friends with people from around the globe while honing your skills as a scientist, contact us to collaborate!

Educational background: Bachelor of Science in Evolutionary Biology


 

Evan Craine

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
evan.craine@wsu.edu
Advisors: Dr. Scot Hulbert and Dr. Zhiwu Zhang


 

Wilson Craine standing in front of plants

Wilson Craine

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
wilson.craine@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Scot Hulbert and Dr. Zhiwu Zhang

It is my dream to be a plant breeder. I want to make positive contributions to the world by improving our world’s foods, feeds, and fuels through the development of new and existing crops. Specifically, I’m interested in oilseed crops utilized in the production of biodiesel. I want to further my biochemistry research understanding by analyzing enzyme or protein interactions, specific seed oils and the fuels they make, as well as other biochemical processes that could facilitate biofuel production.

Taking over Dr. Scot Hulbert’s Camelina breeding program in Summer 2016 has been the perfect fit for me. Camelina sativa is a flowering plant in the Brassicaceae family, traditionally cultivated as on oilseed crop to produce vegetable oil and animal feed. Camelina is unique due to the exceptionally high levels of omega-3 fatty acids its contains (up to 45%), which is uncommon in vegetable oils. My research project will examine the genetics of economically important traits in Camelina, including seed size, oil content and oil composition. Molecular markers will be used to localize QTL controlling the traits. The genomic sequences will be used to examine potential candidate genes and useful germplasm identified will be advanced in our breeding program.

Before coming to WSU, I worked for three years as a field technician with Dr. Shawn Kaeppler and Dr. Natalia de Leon’s field corn breeding research group at UW-Madison where I gained real-world plant breeding experience that perfectly prepared me for my current role heading up Dr. Hulbert’s Camelina Breeding Project.

Educational background: B.S. Macalester College


 

Liam Dixon

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
liam.dixon@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Arron Carter


 

Aichatou Djibo Waziri

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
a.djibowaziri@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kim Garland-Campbell


 

Aysegul Eroglu

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
aysegul.eroglu@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Clare Coyne


 

Derya Eroglu Karaca

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
derya.eroglukaraca@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Rebecca McGee


 

Jacob Fischer holding a large fish

Jacob Fischer

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
jacob.w.fischer@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Drew Lyon

I graduated spring 2018 from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Horticulture. I am interested in research and development of agrochemicals for food safety. In the Summer of 2017, I worked for Syngenta Crop Protection where I did just that, and maintained several field trials in wheat, potatoes, onions, corn, and apples.

I am starting a M.S. degree in crop science fall 2018 where I will be working with Dr. Drew Lyon. My research focuses on the chemical control of Rush skeletonweed in the winter wheat-summer fallow cropping system of the dryland farming region of Washington.

Educational background: B.S. Horticulture, Oregon State University, 2018


 

Cedric Habiyaremye

Cedric Habiyaremye

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
cedric.habiyaremye@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kevin Murphy

I was born, grew up in Rwanda and raised in Tanzania. I am interested in using new innovations in agricultural technologies to advance local community development needs – turning current agriculture problems into long-term development solutions to malnutrition in Rwanda. The most important lesson came from working closely with rural residents at the community level. Working for Building Bridges with Rwanda (BBR Ltd) the time I was doing my undergrad gave me practical opportunities to test new ideas and put them to work. It has greatly prepared me to the next step in my life. I enrolled at WSU in Fall 2013 after a fabulous agriculture internship during the 2012 summer with WSU students and staff working on different agriculture projects at the Covaga Innovation Center in Rwanda. My research focuses on breeding and groecology of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa).

Education Background: B.S. (Agriculture Engineering & Environmental Sciences) – Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAE-Busogo), Rwanda


 

Leo Hinojosa with Ivan Vallejo

Leonardo Hinojosa Sanchez

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
l.hinojosanchez@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kevin Murphy

I was born in Ecuador and grew up in a small town near Quito. My passion with nature encouraged me to study Agronomy. I obtained my Agronomic Engineer degree in Ecuador. My research project was to study the behavior of several varieties of potatoes to drought in a greenhouse. I was hired by Research Institute to Agronomy in Ecuador to work with cereal crops. Afterwards, I achieved a Masters degree in Spain in Environmental Agrobiology by means of an international scholarship. When I came back to Ecuador, I started to work in the United Nations World Food Program for two years in humanitarian aid. I received a scholarship from the Ecuadorian Government to study a PhD program. In 2013, I met Dr. Kevin Murphy at the IV Global Congress on Quinoa in Ecuador. I loved the idea of joining WSU and being a part of Dr. Murphy’s team. I will study the effect of abiotic stress in Quinoa.

Educational Background: B.S. (Agricultural Engineering) Central University of Ecuador November 2009; M.S. (Environmental Agrobiology) University of Basque Country in September 2011


 

Muhammad Ahsan Khan in a laboratory

Muhammad Ahsan Khan

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
muhammad.a.khan@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kulvinder S. Gill

I was born and raised in Faisalabad, the textile hub of Pakistan. I completed my B.S. (Agriculture) and M.S. (Plant Breeding & Genetics) from University of Agriculture Faisalabad.I joined WSU in the Spring of 2015. My research focus will be exploring wheat genome to find new ways for yield improvement and genetic enhancement of quality related traits. My goal is to seek and share the knowledge of agriculture and effective utilization of available resources to ensure global food security.

Educational background: M.S. (Hons) Plant Breeding and Genetic


 

Emily Klarquist

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
emily.klarquist@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Mike Pumphrey


 

Jacob Lamkey

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
jacob.lamkey@wsu.edu
Advisors: Dr. Kim Garland Campbell and Dr. Arron Carter


 

Thiel Lehman leaning against a railing

Thiel Lehman

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
thiel.lehman@email.wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Karen Sanguinet

I received my bachelors’ degrees in Chemistry and Biology from Utah State University in 2009. Since then I’ve been attending Washington State University attempting to obtain my Ph.D. in Plant Physiology in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. My research focuses on root cell wall morphology and hormonal crosstalk in the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana and Brachypodium distachyon.


 

Tara Lewis

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
tara.lewis@wsu.edu
Advisors: Dr. Arron Carter and Dr. Ian Burke


 

Chang (Chloe) Liu

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
chang.liu9@wsu.edu
Advisors: Dr. Micheal Pumphrey and Dr. Camile Steber


 

Xiaochi Ma in an orchard

Xiaochi Ma

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
xiaochi.ma@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Pete Jacoby and Dr. Karen Sanguinet

I was born and grew up in South Central China, and earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Ecology in Nanjing, a city situated in the heartland of the lower Yangtze River region. In the Fall of 2015, I started to pursue my Ph.D. at WSU, supervised by Dr. Pete Jacoby. My current research mainly focuses on physiological processes of grapevine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Concord) under water stress, and efficiency of deficit irrigation on grape production and water management. I hope to be a viticulturist and ecologist someday to help improve wine grape quality and agricultural sustainability. I like music, outdoor activities and adventures, which could provide me opportunities to get closer to nature.

Education Background: M.S. (Ecology) – Nanjing Agricultural University, China; B.S. (Ecology) – Nanjing Forestry University, China.


 

Merri Metcalfe

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
merri.metcalfe@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Stephen Jones


 

Nathan Nielsen in a field

Nathan Nielsen

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
nathan.nielsen@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Arron H. Carter

I grew up on a family farm just outside of Parma, Idaho along the Snake River. My first experience with plant breeding was a position in Monsanto’s carrot breeding program during the summer of 2014. The following year I worked as an intern for Pioneer Hi-Bred in Woodland, CA in their maize drought program. I graduated from BYU-Idaho with a degree in Agronomy and am starting a Master’s Degree in Crop Science in the summer of 2017. Dr. Arron Carter is my advisor and I will be involved in a wheat breeding project that is looking to improve winter wheat stubble decomposition rates in accordance with the needs of farmers in the Palouse and throughout the state of Washington. I plan to be a plant breeder and help contribute to the success of the American farmers in the Northwest.

Educational background: B.S. in Agronomy from Brigham Young University – Idaho


 

Samuel Prather

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
samuel.prather@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Michael Pumphrey


 

Sam Revolinski at a zoo

Samuel Revolinski

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
samuel.revolinski@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Zhiwu Zhang

Growing up in the city of Minneapolis, I was not exposed to agriculture until my second year of college when I happened to take a summer job working as a technician for a chrysanthemum breeding program ran by Dr. Neil Anderson at the University of Minnesota where I picked up an interest in plant breeding. Later in college I took a class on Linear Regression where I found a passion in data analytics. The Spring of 2017, I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelors of science in Plant Science then in August of that same year I came to WSU to peruse a Masters degree but later switched to a Ph.D. track. I am currently interested in applying machine learning and advanced statistical methods to better use data from remote sensing such as drone or satellite imagery. I hope one day to be a scientist involved in improving germplasm through advanced phenotyping and data analytics methods. I am hoping that my efforts will help to feed a growing would more precisely and efficiently.

Educational background: B.S. -Plant Science – University of Minnesota


 

Alejandra N. Roa

Alejandra N. Roa

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
alejandra.roa@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Arron H. Carter

A North Californian, I came to WSU the fall of 2014 for my undergraduate because I wanted more opportunities then what I found in my home state. I graduated in December 2016 with a B.S. in Animal Science; I hope to become a veterinarian and work with exotic animals. When I arrived in Washington, I immediately started looking for research opportunities as a part of meeting prerequisites for vet school. Thanks to the Team Mentoring Program and the CAHNRS College here at WSU, I began volunteering for an Animal Behavior lab that looked at rat care in vivariums using ethograms. I was hooked on participating in research because of this experience and agreed to assist with rodent care in a food science lab. After a semester of volunteering in food science research, I accepted an internship in the same lab. Cooperating in multiple research projects over that summer that focused on cutting edge research on Palouse grains, I participated in a fall internship for the winter wheat breeding program to continue the work I had done while in food science on wheat and digestible fiber analysis. I was offered to continue doing this research as a Master’s Degree student in Crop Science.  I accepted the offer in order to complete the research I started as an undergraduate, as well as expand my knowledge base of wheat straw fiber composition and digestibility.  I feel this added knowledge will increase my ability to better understand the complex interactions between Crop and Animal Sciences.

Educational background: B.S. in Animal Science; Pre-Vet


 

Jeanette Rodriguez

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
jeanette.rodriguez@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Ian Burke


 

Travis Ruff

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
truff@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Micheal Pumphrey


 

Karansher Sandhu standing next to a river with a boat behind him and geese at his feet

Karansher Singh Sandhu

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
k.sandhu@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Arron Carter

I belong to the farming community and had seen all those problems which were being faced by the farmers in Punjab, India. Punjab is a farming hub for India. In order to do something valuable for farmers, I joined Punjab Agricultural University for my undergrad majoring in Plant Breeding and Genetics. I gained a lot of interest in Plant Breeding by working with scientists like Dr. Rahul Kapoor, Dr. Navtej Singh Bains and in order to explore more in Plant breeding, I joined Washington State University in fall of 2017. I am working on spring outgrowth pattern of winter wheat and will be developing germplasm having quick spring outgrowth and freezing tolerance QTL’s using GWAS and Genomic Selection approaches.

Educational background: Undergrad in Agriculture (Majoring in Genetics and Plant Breeding)


 

Pushpa Sharma

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
psharma_koirala@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Michael Neff


 

Kanwardeep Singh

Kanwardeep Singh

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
kanwardeep.singh@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kulvinder Gill

I completed my Master’s degree in Plant Breeding & Genetics from PAU, Ludhiana, India. I worked on characterizing auxin efflux carrier gene as a potential alternate dwarfing system for wheat. I started my Ph.D. with Dr. Kulvinder Gill during the Spring of 2014. My main research interest is to understand the mechanism of homology search in wheat and manipulate it for alien introgression into wheat without linkage drag.

Educational background: M.S. in Plant Breeding & Genetics


 

Kaviraj Singh

Kaviraj Singh

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
kaviraj.singh@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kulvinder Gill

I completed my B.S. in Agriculture with hons. in plant breeding and genetics from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India. I joined WSU in summer of 2016 as a Ph.D. student in Dr. Kulvinder Gill’s lab. My research focus is Improving thermal tolerance of Wheat Rubisco activase gene (TaRCA) via molecular characterization and genetic engineering.

Educational background: B.S. – Agriculture with hons. in Plant Breeding and Genetics


 

Stephanie Sjoberg in a field

Stephanie Sjoberg

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
stephanie.sjoberg@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Arron Carter & Camille Steber

My pursuit of a doctorate in Crop Science is rooted in my passion for plant breeding. In particular, I am interested in studying the art of traditional plant breeding, while also incorporating modern molecular and innovative techniques for use in the identification and introduction of novel traits. Prior to my entrance into the Crop Science program in Summer 2016, I worked for 6 years in the vegetable seed industry, primarily as a Scientist in the Molecular Breeding group at Bayer Crop Science, but also previously at HM Clause and Monsanto. Now, working in the winter wheat program with Dr. Arron Carter and Dr. Camille Steber on preharvest sprouting tolerance, I hope to gain experience that will prepare me for a career in plant breeding.

Educational background: B.S. in Biology, Pacific Lutheran University


 

Nikayla Strauss

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
nikayla.strauss@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kim Garland-Campbell


 

Carmen Swannack

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
carmen.swannack@wsu.edu
Advisors: Dr. Arron Carter and Dr. Kim Garland-Campbell


 

Jeremy Thompson

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
jeremy.r.thompson@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Ian Burke


 

Yvonne Manning Thompson

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
yvonne.manning@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kimberly Campbell


 

Shelby Westenskow in a WSU graduation cap and gown

Shelby Westenskow

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
shelby.westenskow@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Michael Neff

I was born and have lived in Washington for most of my life. I found an interest in genetic modification in a bioethics class in high school, which lead me to pursue a degree in agricultural biotechnology. I started my undergraduate degree at WSU in Fall of 2013, graduating with my B.S. in Integrated Plant Science (Ag Biotech) in December of 2016. I have been a Master’s student in the Neff lab since Spring of 2017. I work on a biochemical process family of genes that aid in brassinosteroid inactivation. I will be using CRISPR/Cas9 to make single, double, triple and quadruple knockouts of the different combinations of these genes.

Educational background: B.S. Agricultural Biotechnology – Washington State University


 

Zara York

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
zara.york@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Karen Sanguinet