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October 12, 2015

Announcements and Deadlines

Effective immediately all official WSU email communication must be sent to students’ WSU email address.


Awards and Achievements

Craig Morris presented an invited talk “From Farm to Fork: Redesigning Durum Wheat” at the 12th International Gluten Biotechnology Workshop in Perth, Australia on September 14.

Mike Pumphrey received the 2015 BGRI Mentor Award during the 2015 Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) Technical Workshop in Sydney, Australia, on September 19.



Soil Science Seminars
Johnson Hall 204, 1:10 p.m.

October 12 – Nate Stacey
“Compost Use on Golf Course Fairways”

October 19 – Megan Reese
“Winter Canola Water and Nitrogen Use in Low to Intermediate Rainfall Zones of WA State”

October 26 – Carol McFarland


Crop Science Seminars
Johnson Hall 204, 2:30 p.m.

October 12 – Kanwardeep Singh
“Understanding Mechanism and Evolution of Chromosome Pairing Control in Wheat”

October 19 – Eva Erdayani
“Understanding the Role of Heat Shock Protein 101 (HSP101) in Heat Tolerance in Wheat”

October 26 – Colin Curwen-McAdams


Plant Growth Facility Grand Opening
October 17, 10:00 a.m.


CSS Graduate Student Club
Agriculture, Food and Society Discussions
“After Hours”
Cafe Moro, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
October 22 – Role of Extension


Townhall Meeting with CAHNRS Administration
November 4, 3:00-5:00 p.m.


2015 Tilth Producers Conference
November 13-15
Spokane Convention Center


Transitioning Cereal Systems to Adept to Climate Change
November 13-14
Minneapolis, MN


ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting
Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions
November 15-18
Minneapolis, MN


2015 WSU Wheat Academy
December 15-16
Vogel Plant Biosciences Building


For more events, please see the Wheat and Small Grains website calendar.



Teaching Tips from Candis Carraway

Engaging Students Through “Think, Pair Share”

Engaging students in the classroom is essential in the learning process. The next several “Teaching Tips” I will share strategies for engaging students. These tactics will vary from “high tech.” to “no tech.” We will start with an approach that requires no technology and works in classes of all sizes. It is called “Think, Pair, Share.” If you have a hard time getting students to participate in class discussions try this strategy. Pose the question or topic that you want to discuss and have the students first “think” about it. You may even ask them to write down some notes about the topic or question. Next, have them “pair” up with a neighbor. If they are sitting at tables you may have the whole table “pair” into one group. In their pairs they should discuss what they thought about. Give them time to share and discuss differences. During this time you should walk around and monitor the groups. This allows you to redirect groups that are off task and to identify groups that you would like to share with the entire class. Finally, have them “share” with the class. In a large class you may only have a few groups share but in a smaller class you may ask every group to share. This strategy gives everyone a chance to engage in the topic. During the first two stages you should give students time limits and keep them informed of how much time they have remaining. The time will depend on the topic you are discussing.

Engage students with Poll Everywhere

Here is another tip for engaging students, this time technology is required. Poll Everywhere is an electronic polling system that allows you to ask your students a question and receive immediate feedback. Students answer in real time using mobile phones (text), twitter, or web browser. As the students submit answers you will be able to see the responses and can display them on the web or in a PowerPoint presentation. In this application the answers are anonymous so you cannot identify who answered what. Some students will be willing to answer more honestly since it is anonymous. You can poll the students using a multiple choice, true/false, or open ended question. You can access Poll Everywhere at There is a tab for higher education that offers some use for free. The free version allows you to receive 40 responses per poll.


In Memoriam

Robert A. Nilan

After ninety-one years of what he so often called a bloody blessed life, Robert Arthur Nilan passed away peacefully on October 7, 2015 in Pullman, Washington. He was surrounded by love, prayers, and beautiful harp music. Known to friends and colleagues as Barley Bob, he died to the strains of Fields of Gold. You’ll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley.

Robert was born to Phyllis and Jack Nilan on December 26, 1923 in New Westminster, British Columbia. His early schooling in Burquitlam and New Westminster would launch a life long passion for education. Hiking and fishing with his father in the Canadian wilderness would inspire a love for the natural world and plant sciences. From the University of British Columbia in Vancouver he earned a Bachelors Degree in General Studies in 1944 and a Masters Degree in Plant Science in 1946. From the University of Wisconsin in Madison he received a PhD in Genetics in 1951.

While at UBC he met the love of his life, Winona Ross. They were married in Victoria, BC in 1948 and after their time in Madison they moved to Pullman for what they thought would be a short couple of years. When Bob arrived at what was then Washington State College, his focus was corn genetics. But he was soon counseled to work with the crops of the Palouse hills and that counsel would launch both a life long passion for barley and a career at Washington State University.

As Robert turned his attention to the propagation of better strains of barley, he and Winona turned their attention to the propagation of a family. Judith was born in 1951, Gregory in 1954, and Patricia in 1964. The family would grow to include five grandchildren and one great grandson. One of the last phone calls he received before he died was to tell him of a second great grandchild.

Robert worked with colleagues around the globe to create a world renowned program in barley breeding and genetics. This program took him to barley research centers on every continent and afforded him and the family sabbaticals in Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and England. During his career he authored two books, published over 100 scientific research articles, and trained sixty students for their Masters and PhD degrees.

Dr. Nilan helped create the Genetics Department and served as department Chair for nine years. In 1979 he was appointed Dean of the College of Science, a position he held for twelve years until his retirement in 1992. During his years in the ‘deanery’ as he lovingly called it, Nilan oversaw the development of numerous programs, including statistics, environmental sciences and regional planning, zoophysiology, and plant physiology. He also supported the development of two essential and widely-used Laboratories of Bioanalysis and Biotechnology, the Electron Microscopy Center, and the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center.

During his long and distinguished career he won several awards and honors, including appointment to the Danish Academy of Science, the Nilan Distinguished Professorship in Barley Research and Education, the Washington State University Foundation Outstanding Service Award, the College of Sciences Legacy of Excellence Award, and most recently the establishment of the Robert A. Nilan Endowed Chair. One of his proudest career accomplishments was being a founding member of the International Barley Genetics Symposium. As he said of his beloved WSU, I can think of no other institution where I would have had such a rewarding and satisfying career.

Beyond his extensive academic and research contributions, he and Win were significant financial benefactors to the University, Pullman Regional Hospital, and WSU Museum of Art.

In 2007 he lost Winona, his wonderful wife of 59 years. He would later spend several happy years with long time friend Betty Clark. At the end of his life he was so very ready to make the journey home to be with Winona and thrived to the end in the care of Rob Mutisya. As people travel the journey of dementia they often express an essential nature. Family, friends, and caregivers will attest that Bob’s essential nature was love.

Nilan is survived by children Judith Nilan (Dennis Crowley), Gregory Nilan (Kate Bohn-Nilan & Laura Costadone), Patricia Nilan, and grandchildren Nicholas Nilan, Sydney Nilan, Brendan Lutes, Jaimi Lutes, and Jordan Lutes, and great-grandson Braxton Nilan. He will be deeply missed by Betty Clark, the Clark family and so many, many other friends and colleagues.

A celebration of Bob, his life, and the family, colleagues, community, and University he so dearly loved will be held on Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 2:00 PM in Ensminger Pavilion on the WSU campus. In honor of Dr. Nilan, donations can be made to Pullman Regional Hospital (840 SE Bishop Blvd., Suite 200, Pullman, WA 99163) or the Robert A. Nilan Endowed Chair through the WSU Foundation (P.O. Box 646228, Pullman, WA 99164-6228).


If you have an item you would like in the CSS News, please email Samantha Crow or Tami Nordquist.