Letter from the Director
We have always recognized the world-class quality of faculty involved in the Washington State University Agricultural Research, now the broader scientific community also has a better understanding of that success. This year, WSU scientists conducting research on plants and animals were named among the most productive in the nation, according to a survey measuring faculty scholarly productivity published in The Chronicle for Higher Education. WSU plant scientists ranked second in terms of number of journal articles published (only Berkeley ranked higher in that area) and third in the percentage of faculty whose work was cited by another work.
Relevant, cutting edge science funded by competitive grants and contracts continues to be a hallmark of the Washington State University Agricultural Research Center. ARC scientists again vied for and won the most in competitive grants and contracts in the institution for FY06-07, bringing in nearly $25.4 million in funding.
The year featured a wide variety of research projects. We continue to build our capacity in genomics and bioinformatics with the hiring of Dr. Amit Dhingra. His work and that of Professor Dorrie Main will help unlock the genetic secrets of a variety of crops – especially tree fruit – leading to the development of better, more marketable tree fruit faster.
A related development is the new tree fruit research orchard that is in the works outside Wenatchee, home of the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center. We’ll dedicate that new facility later this fall.
In other projects, WSU Professor Juming Tang is developing a way to use radio waves, not environmentally damaging chemicals as a new way to debug dried fruits and nuts postharvest. Using radio waves that generate heat to kill the insects hiding in nuts and dried fruits provides a good alternative to methyl bromide, the most common for of post-harvest pest control. Use of that chemical fumigant, which has been linked to ozone depletion, has been banned in developed countries, including the United States.
Rod Sayler, an associate professor of natural resource sciences, led research on the reintroduction of pygmy rabbits into their native sagebrush habitat in central Washington, along with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is a long-isolated, genetically unique population of small rabbits. The Washington rabbits were on the verge of extinction when they were listed as a federal endangered species in 2003.
Thank you for taking a moment from your busy schedule to review this report. I welcome your questions or comments. You can contact me at AgResearch@wsu.edu or at 509.335.4563.
Ralph Cavalieri, Director of the Washington State Agricultural Research Center