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Soil Science Graduate Students

Kaushik Adhikari standing in a hallway.

Kaushik Adhikari

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Markus Flury

I came from a small country Nepal where more than 80% of populations involve in farming. Growing up in an agricultural suburb motivated me to pursue further study in the Agriculture field. I completed an undergraduate study in Bachelor of Science in agriculture from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. After working as an instructor for one and a half years in Nepal, I joined University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff as a graduate research assistant for a master’s study. My master’s research was focused on the fate and effects of nanoparticles in soil. Recently, I have been appointed as a research assistant at Washington State University to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Soil Science. I will be working under the supervision of Dr. Markus Flury during Ph.D. My potential research will be based on fate and transport of micro- and nano plastics in terrestrial systems including biosolids, soils and air.


Alexandra Davis standing in front of trees

Alexandra Davis

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. John Reganold

I grew up here in Pullman and attended WSU, where I majored in Environmental Science and Spanish. I am interested in studying ecosystem services.

Educational background: B.S. Environmental Science, B.A. Spanish


Madeline Desjardins

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Deirdre Griffin


Patrick Freeze leaning up against straw

Patrick Freeze

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. James Harsh

I come from a small farming community nested in the “hill country” region of central Texas, but completed my undergraduate education in Reno, NV.  At the University of Nevada, I graduated with a B.S. in environmental science, and focused on soil science, environmental chemistry, biofuels synthesis/production, environmental policy and regulations, and community outreach.  After working with indigenous groups impacted by environmental degradation through large-scale mining, in both Nevada and western Africa, I ultimately decided soil science and resource conservation were the logical foundations to center my studies on for my Ph.D.As part of the Low Impact Development research program at WSU, my research will focus on the use of iron-gluconate amended compost and its ability to mitigate the impacts of agricultural land runoff through the adsorption of xenobiotics, excess nutrients, and arsenic, with the main focus being the speciation, fate, and transport of arsenic.

Education Background: B.S. (Environmental Sciences) – University of Nevada, Minor: Analytical Chemistry


Sarah Hallyburton

Degree sought: M.S.. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Stephen VanVleet and Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs


Justin Maltry

Degree sought: M.S. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Doug Collins


Paul Martinez standing in front of a tree.

Paul Martinez

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Gabriel LaHue

I received my BS in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and MS in Horticulture and Agronomy from UC Davis. As an undergraduate, I was interested in learning about the agricultural impacts on the environment and ways to mitigate those impacts without decreasing crop yields. During my masters, I wanted to study the impact soil hypoxic conditions has on fine roots for tree crops. I will be joining WSU and working with Dr. Gabriel LaHue this fall 2022 studying the impacts of soil health practices on physical and chemical properties of soils and their influence on grain quality. I very much enjoy learning about soils and crop production and hope to become an extension agent that helps farmers maintain crop yields and adapt to changing environmental conditions. When I am not doing research or schoolwork, I like to play guitar, play soccer, or go for hikes.


Michael Dylan Mullins

Degree sought: M.S. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Haly Neely


Katherine Naasko in front of a river

Katherine Naasko

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Haiying Tao

As I was born and raised in the Great Lakes state, I’ve always been aware of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, as well as the stunning beauty that nature has to offer. My interests led me to receive a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with two minors focusing on environmental sustainability, technology and policy at Michigan State University. While finishing my last year of school, I worked in the MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient laboratory where I was exposed to the fascinating world of soil and crop science. Now that I am at WSU, I plan to maximize the experience of my unique background to make advancements in soil health and fertility in the Pacific Northwest.


Lee Opdahl in a field

Lee Opdahl

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Karen Sanguinet

Growing up on a farm in rural Minnesota has made a substantial impact on my academic interests. With my life-long experience in agriculture, and the passion for biological sciences I accrued during my undergraduate education, I decided to devote my future studies towards microbiology in agriculture. This led me to a M.S. in Animal Science with an emphasis in ruminant microbiology at South Dakota State University. To broaden my skills and education, I decided to attend WSU starting in the fall of 2017, and focus my doctoral research on rhizosphere microorganisms and their effect on crop productivity. Specifically, I will be working on characterizing metal and micronutrient transformations by the rhizosphere microbiome and phytobiome that enhance plant nutrition and crop yield.

Educational background: M.S. Animal Science (Ruminant Microbiology); B.S. Microbiology, Biotechnology, and Biology; Minors: Chemistry and Psychology – South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD


Cassandra Rieser

Degree sought: M.S. in Soil Science
Advisors: Dr. David Huggins & Dr. John Reganold


Rinkal Saini

Degree sought: M.S. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs


Diana Salguero

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Haly Neely


Kat Smith in a field holding carrots.

Katherine Smith

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Dave Huggins and Dr. John Reganold

After growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I moved to rural Iowa where I received a B.A. in Biology at Grinnell College in 2018. My research focused on methylmercury bioaccumulation in groundwater-fed wetlands in Eastern Iowa. I spent my first year post-graduation working in Colorado and using my free time to hike my first real mountains. The second year brought me to Hawai’i, where I spent six months on Kaua’i and the Big Island working on organic farms. Though the path has been anything but linear, a combination of my exposure to my undergraduate town simultaneously being an agriculture-dense community and a rural food desert, my love of field work and the incredible experiences working with farmers has led me to pursue research related to sustainable agriculture. I left Hawai’i and moved to Pullman amidst the global pandemic to join Drs. Dave Huggins and John Reganold at WSU to pursue a Ph.D. via research that assesses various farming systems based on agricultural sustainability metrics.

Educational background:  B.A. Biology, Grinnell College


Natalie Sturm holding out soil.

Natalie Sturm

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Haly Neely

Even though I grew up in suburban Chicago, IL, I have long been passionate about the potential for agricultural systems to help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and soil, and human health concerns.  I earned a B.S. in Agroecology from Montana State University, during which I gained an interest in no-till farming and diverse crop rotations.  To further pursue that interest, I completed an M.S. from South Dakota State University by quantifying differences in soil quality properties between long-term no-till crop rotations at Dakota Lakes Research Farm.  I joined Dr. Haly Neely’s lab in the summer of 2022 as a Ph.D. student to investigate no-till and cropping systems solutions to soil compaction in the Palouse.  In the future, I hope to operate a farm focused on sustainable crop and livestock production, cropping systems research, and agricultural outreach and education.

Educational background:  B.S. in Agroecology from Montana State University (2020) and M.S. in Plant Science (agronomy/soil science focus) from South Dakota State University (2022)


Harmony Varner.

Harmony Varner

Degree sought: M.S. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Gabriel LaHue

Harmony graduated from WSU in May 2021 with a B.S. in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, and immediately joined the NWREC as an M.S. student. Harmony’s work focuses on farmer-led experimentation with irrigation, with the goal of generating research results that are relevant to a farmer’s individual field and that, in aggregate, can help us make better informed recommendations.


Natalie Waters

Degree sought: M.S. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Haiying Tao and Dr. Pete Jacoby


Claire Yost holding a dog with a barn in the background.

Claire Yost

Degree Sought:  M.S. in Soil Science
Advisor:  Dr. Gabriel LaHue

I’ve worked on vegetable row cropping, fruit, and grain farms since 2011. These experiences have made me passionate about the connections between plant, land, and community health. I received a Biology BS from Humboldt State University with an emphasis in ecology and botany. I will be joining Dr. Gabriel LaHue in Fall 2022 researching deficit irrigation in cider apples. My goal is to find more efficient and ecological ways to produce food through soil health.


Hatem Younes

Degree sought: Ph.D. in Soil Science
Advisor: Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs