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


 

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


 

Rachel Breslauer

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


 

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


 

Wei-An Chen

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
wei-an.chen@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Craig Morris and Dr. Michael Pumphrey


 

Evan Craine in a greenhouse with a lot of plants

Evan Craine

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

Evan was raised in Western Pennsylvania and Madison, Wisconsin before attending Colorado College, where he earned a B.A. in Organismal Biology and Ecology, and a minor in Biochemistry. He was awarded the Enderson Award in Conservation Biology for his thesis on the physiological response of saltcedar to biological control. Following graduation from CC, Evan served as an AmeriCorps member in the Student Conservation Association while working as a watershed restoration intern for the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust. He then moved to central Florida, where he joined the Plant Ecology Program at Archbold Biological Station as a research intern. Evan assisted with data collection for long term rare plant demography studies and ecological restoration projects while conducting independent research projects on pollinator ecology and the response of Crotalaria spectabilis seedlings to water stress. Evan worked at the Blackland Research and Extension Center as a technician on multiple switchgrass ecology, physiology, and genomics projects before joining the Sustainable Seed Systems lab at WSU. His dissertation focuses on breeding quinoa and barley for flavor and nutrition. Evan is especially interested in developing technologies for high throughput phenotyping of end-use quality traits and developing interdisciplinary collaborations. He is passionate about bridging the gap between farmers, stakeholders and consumers to support the development of regional grain economies. Evan enjoys facilitating tastings to engage the public with sensory perception of regional agricultural products. To appreciate something you must understand it, and to understand something you must experience it.


 

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


 

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


 

Lydia Fields

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


 

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


 

Julianne Kellogg in a field

Julianne Kellogg

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

Julianne grew up in central Massachusetts surrounded by small-scale apple and pear producers. Julianne received her B.S. in Environmental science from Colorado College, leading her to study agroecosystems in India and Thailand. Her first undertaking of interdisciplinary research was with an Indian organic tea cooperative that resulted in her undergraduate thesis, A Political Ecology of Tea in Darjeeling, India. Julianne’s global agricultural career has placed her in New Zealand, Australia, and the US working with biodynamic orchardists, regenerative ranchers, and organic farmers. In 2017, Julianne earned her M.S. in Crop Science at WSU with research topics including evolutionary participatory quinoa breeding and soil microbiology. After her M.S, she continued working with WSU at the Puyallup Research and Extension Center and subsequently, the Washington State Department of Agriculture. In 2019, Julianne rejoined the Sustainable Seed Systems lab to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD in Crop Science and Human Health and Nutrition. Her research efforts are focused on evolutionary participatory crop breeding, breeding crops for enhanced nutrition and low input agroecosystems, and determining human health responses to new crop cultivars.

Educational background: B.S. Environmental Science; M.S. Crop Science


 

Emily Klarquist

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


 

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.


 

Lance Merrick standing on a rock next to a cliff.

Lance Merrick

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

I grew up on a family farm in South Dakota where I learned first-hand the needs of farmers and discovered my passion for helping to feed people. I obtained my B.S. in Agronomy at South Dakota State University. While at SDSU I worked in the Spring Wheat Breeding and Genetics program under Dr. Karl Glover. Working with Dr. Glover and helping to run all aspects of the wheat breeding program, inspired me to become a plant breeder. After graduation I traveled to New Zealand to gain more plant breeding experience. For three months I worked at a winter nursery called Southern Seed Technology, where I harvested nurseries from breeding programs from all over the world. When I came back to the US, I completed my M.S. at South Dakota State University where my research focused on how production locations in South Dakota affected end-use quality in spring wheat. Working with wheat is what led me to study at WSU starting in the Fall of 2019. My research interests are in the use of genomic selection, high-throughput phenotyping, and marker trait-associations to make breeding programs more efficient.

Educational background: B.S. in Agronomy and M.S. in Plant Science at South Dakota State University


 

Merri Metcalfe

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


 

Robin Morgan

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


 

Atit Parajuli

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


 

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


 

Tavin Schneider crouching in front of a canola field

Tavin Schneider

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
tavin.schneider@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Michael Pumphrey

Growing up on a farm in north central Montana inspired me to achieve a career that would help producers feed the growing global population. I graduated from Montana State University with a Plant Science Degree and Genetics Minor in December 2018. I have interned with a MSU research center, focusing on diseases in cereals, pulses, and sugar beets, and with Cargill, focusing on canola breeding. These internships, paired with undergraduate research experience in end-use quality of wheat, have affirmed my desire for a career in agriculture research.

I started my master’s degree in Crop Science at WSU in January 2019. My project focuses on molecular marker development and use in selection for Hessian fly resistance in spring wheat.

Educational background: B.S. Plant Science, Montana State University


 

Jonathan Schnore

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


 

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)


 

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


 

Zhou Tang

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


 

Laura Valli

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


 

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