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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


 

Zhaslan Akhmetov

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
zhaslan.akhmetov@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Karen Sanguinet


 

Mariana Amaral

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
mariana.amaral@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Ian Burke


 

Aaron Appleby

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


 

Madisyn Beaudoin

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


 

Christopher Benedict

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


 

Rachel Breslauer

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


 

Matthew Brooke

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
matthew.brooke@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Bob Brueggeman


 

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.


 

Aichatou Djibo Waziri

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
a.djibowaziri@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kim Garland-Campbell and Dr. Kevin Murphy


 

Evan Domsic

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
evan.domsic@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Kevin Murphy and Deirdre Griffin LaHue


 

Jesse Ford

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
jesse.ford@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Isaac Madsen


 

Nickolas Frisbee

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
nickolas.frisbee@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Clark Neely and Dr. Tarah Sullivan


 

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


 

Meijing Liang

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


 

Kenton Lyman

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


 

Ellen Mahoro

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


 

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


 

Cristina Ocana Gallegos

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


 

Atit standing on a hill overlooking apartment buildings in the Palouse.

Atit Parajuli

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

I grew up on the foot of Himalayas in Nepal where I earned my B.S. and M.S. in Plant Breeding from Agriculture and Forestry University. I joined WSU in the spring of 2019, to pursue my Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Zhiwu Zhang in Crop Science. My research focuses on removing inbreeding depression, a barrier to hybrid production, in alfalfa for quality and quantity of production. I am interested in incorporating modern molecular techniques in classical plant breeding through integration of bioinformatic tools, advanced statistical methods and genetics to amplify crop improvement program for sustainability of production. I hope to learn skills and gain experience that would shape my career as a better plant breeder in the future.

In my leisure time, I enjoy playing different sports, hiking, visiting new places and playing guitar.

Educational background: M.S. (Plant Breeding) Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal; B.Sc. (Agriculture) Institute of Agriculture and Animal Sciences, Nepal


 

Sarah Peery

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
sarah.ellis@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Camille Steber and Dr. Mike Pumphrey


 

Savannah Phipps

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


 

Louis Prager

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


 

Samuel Prather

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

I’ve always had an interest in biology, specifically green things that grow. While attending the University of Missouri for my undergraduate I got to see the great potential plant breeding can have on crop improvement. It was during my undergraduate that I also saw how much a graduate level of education could teach me about plant breeding, and I resolved to continue my education upon receiving my B.S. in “Plant Sciences”. The first stop for me was Purdue University where I got my M.S. in plant breeding and genetics. Seeing how much you can learn in graduate school but also wanting a position with lots of field-based experience I can here to Washington State University in the summer of 2018 to get my doctorate.

My projects here at Washington State focus on two areas related to wheat improvement. The first deals with developing wheat varieties that are resistant to Hessian fly. Hessian fly being a small insect pest that can under certain conditions decimate yield. And the second is mapping genes related to quality characteristics of wheat. Both have taught me a lot about the many different aspects that must come together in order to grow and harvest a successful crop.

Working under Mike Pumphrey in the spring wheat breeding program I am learning a lot about the tools and methods needed to guild potential varieties through the process of creation and testing in order to find the best ones for release. As well as the analytically and methodically skills needed to conduct research at a high level

Educational background:  B.S. University of Missouri, M.S. Purdue University


 

Tayler Reinman

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


 

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


 

Marjita Savic standing in front of snow and trees.

Marija Savic

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
marija.savic@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Drew Lyon

I am a graduate student coming from Serbia, Eastern European country. Since I was young, I was always curious about biology and living organisms around me which eventually led to Agriculture school. I graduated 2019 at Faculty of Agriculture in Belgrade, Serbia. During bachelor’s I learned a lot about plant physiology, anatomy, biology and pathology, and how to prevent and manage different pests and diseases in crops. After BS, I was an intern for a year at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in Pesticide Application Technology laboratory where I learned more about agricultural practices in corn and soybean in Eastern Nebraska. Now, I am Dr. Lyon’s graduate student at Department of Crop and Soil sciences. I am working on problematic weed species in eastern Washington-Equisetum laevigatum or smooth scouring rush.

Educational background: B.S. at Faculty of Agriculture, Belgrade, Department of Plant Protection


 

Peter Schmuker

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


 

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


 

Andrew Spishakoff

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
andrew.spishakoff@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Tarah Sullivan


 

Nikayla Strauss

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


 

Zhou Tang holding a drone in a field.

Zhou Tang

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

After finishing my B.S. in Animal Science, I started my M.S. Degree in Animal Genetics and Breeding at Huazhong Agriculture University in Sep. 2013. After graduation, I worked as bioinformatics engineer and big data engineer in China for 2 years. My research interests now include applying deep learning and machine learning to agriculture. My main research focus is to accelerate the crop breeding by using remote sensing and drone sensing. During free time, I’m very into soccer and basketball with friends.

Educational background: B.S. (Animal Science) & M.S. (Animal Genetics and Breeding), Huazhong Agricultural University


 

Arjun Upadhaya

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Crop Science
arjun.upadhaya@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Bob Brueggeman


 

Laura Valli

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


 

Jason Wigen

Degree sought: M.S. in Crop Science
jason.wigen@wsu.edu
Advisor: Dr. Camille Steber


 

Tanya Winkler

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