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Washington State University Factsheets

Doctor of Philosophy in Soil Science

Faculty working with Students: 45
Students: 10
Students receiving assistantships or scholarships: 100%
Priority deadline:
  • Fall January 10
  • Spring July 1
Campus:
  • Pullman: Yes
Tests required:
  • 550 TOEFL Minimum score
  • 80 TOEFLI Minimum score
  • GRE

Admission Requirements:

Priority application deadlines are January 10 for Fall term applications and July 1 for Spring term applications. Applications meeting these deadlines are most competitive, however applications may be submitted at anytime. In addition to the Graduate School admission requirements, a personal statement of the applicant’s educational goals and professional expectations, three letters of reference, and GRE scores are also required.

Undergraduates who anticipate graduate study in Soil Science at Washington State University are advised to obtain a background in natural sciences including botany, geology, genetics, chemistry, mathematics, physics, statistics, and plant and soil sciences.

Acceptance of qualified applicants is generally dependent upon availability of research support and a suitable advisor. Students who are applying for a PhD in soils must either have an MS thesis degree or have a BS in soil science or closely related field and have adequate undergraduate research experience. The final decision to admit a student with only a BS degree into the PhD program rests with the soil science faculty.

Student Learning Outcomes:

All graduates will be able to:

  1.  Knowledge of field: Understands the breadth and depth of knowledge associated with their discipline.
  2.  Scientific reasoning: Designs, conducts, analyzes, and interprets research effectively on important problems in their discipline.
  3.  Communication: Communicates effectively to a diverse group of people using appropriate traditional and emerging technological media.
  4.  Original contribution: Makes an original contribution to their discipline.

Student Opportunities:

Students have the opportunity to gain leadership, communication, and instructional experience through the option of serving as teaching assistants for one or more courses within their discipline. Extension program delivery, and Graduate School teacher training and grant proposal writing workshop opportunities are also available.

Career Opportunities:

Soil scientists with advanced degrees may find employment in government agencies, national labs, academia, private business, environmental and agricultural consulting, and organic, international, and sustainable agriculture.

Career Placements:

University faculty positions, National Lab scientists, USDA scientists, Agribusiness owners, Extension agents, Natural Resource Conservation Service scientists, Soil fertility analysts/consultants, University administrators.

Faculty Members:

Brown, David Joseph, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Measuring, modeling and explaining the spatial variability of soil properties and processes at hillslope to regional scales; with extensive use of digital terrain modeling, optical remote sensing, spatial statistics, and proximal soil sensing techniques (e.g. VisNIR spectroscopy).

Burke, Ian, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Basic aspects of weed biology and ecology with the goal of integrating such information into practical and economical methods of managing weeds in the environment.

Campbell, Colin Sanford

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Research Interests

Biophysical instrumentation design and development for applications in soil physics and food science, micrometeorological measurements of field-scale heat and carbon dioxide transport, and measuring and modeling energy balance partitioning in flooded fields.

Campbell, Kimberly, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Wheat breeding for winter survival and frost tolerance, characterization of stress resistance genes and mechanisms, & improvement and genotyping of wheat and barley germplasm for the Western U.S.

Carpenter-Boggs, Lynne, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Biologically improving crop and soil health, and sustainable use of agricultural by-products.

Carter, Arron Hyrum, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Research is directed toward breeding improved wheat varieties for cropping systems in Washington state that incorporate diverse rotations and environments. New varieties are developed using a combination of traditional plant breeding methods and biotechnology. Research efforts include identifying genetic solutions to winter wheat production problems, thereby enhancing the sustainability of the Washington wheat industry. Farmer participation is utilized in the development of new varieties and in research planning.

Cobos, Douglas R, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Research Interests

Instrumentation design and development for soil science, plant science, materials science, engineering, commercial agriculture, and (briefly) interplanetary research applications. Biophysical processes, specializing in surface-atmosphere mass and energy exchange.

Embertson, Nichole

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Flury, Markus, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Water and solute transport in the vadose zone, colloid and colloid-faciltated transport in the vadose zone, sorption mechanisms of organic solutes and its effects on transport, lateral dispersion mechanisms, dye tracers for vadose zone hydrology, interpretation development of soil physical measurement techniques.

Fransen, Steven C, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Forage crops and feedstocks for biofuels such as switchgrass.

Gill, Kulvinder, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Understanding the molecular basis of chromosome pairing control in polyploids, genome organization of grass species including localizing and demarcating gene-containing regions, molecular characterization of agronomically important genes including disease resistance genes, and extent and distribution of recombination in crop plants.

Goldberger, Jessica, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Sociology of agriculture and aricultural science, rural sociology and development, adoption and diffusion of agricultural innovations
Local and Global Agro-Food Systems
The Land-Grant System

Huggins, David Rhys, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Asssessment of interactive effects of terrain attributes, soil properties, C and N cycling, crop diversity and tillage on agroecosystem performance.

Hulbert, Scot Howard, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Management of diseases and pests through genetics and modifications of cropping systems. Genetic and molecular basis of race specific and nonspecific resistance in cereal crops. Methods for the development of cultivars with resistance that remains effective. Molecular mechanisms used by fungal pathogens to attack cereal crops. Development of cropping systems that are profitable but conservation oriented.

Islam, Mohammed, PhD

Serves as: co-chair or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Antimicrobial resistance; One Health; Molecular epidemiology

Jacoby, Pete W, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Research careeer involved control and management of invasive plant species on rangelands using herbicides and/or fire. Research centered on herbicidal control of woody weeds on rangelands. International experience in Africa, Australia and Latin America.

Jarvis, Devra I

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Jones, Stephen Scott, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Research is directed towards small and midsized farms of western Washington. Breed improved wheat varieties (and other crops) for traditional and organic systems that incorporate diverse rotations and systems. Farmer participation and expertise is utilized and encouraged in research planning and decision making.

Jr., Harvey Bolton, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Kisha, Theodore

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Koenig, Richard T, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair or co-chair of graduate committee

Research Interests

Applied soil fertility.

Lyon, Drew, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Weed management in dryland small grain production in eastern Washington.

McGee, Rebecca, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Legume research genetics. USDA-ARS Affiliate Scientist.

Miklas, Phillip Nye, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Dry edible bean genetics and germplasm enhancement.

Morgounov, Alexei, Adjunct Scientist

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Research Interests

Crop & Soil Sciences

Morris, Craig F, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Wheat quality, functionality and marketability in the Western U.S.

Murphy, Kevin, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Farmer participatory research of organic hop cropping systems in the Yakima Valley, quinoa variety selection and breeding, buckwheat selection for dual-purpose cover crop and nutritious seed for human consumption, and organic wheat breeding, with a focus on improving the nutritional value of wheat.

Neff, Michael, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to uncover and describe the interactions between various signaling pathways that modulate plant development.

Pan, William Lee, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Soil-plant relationships in mineral nutrition, nitrogen cycling by sustainable cropping systems, crop root growth and development, computer imaging of plant roots.

Pierce, Francis, PhD

Serves as: co-chair or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Agricultural Automation Engineering
Precision Agriculture
Site-Specific Management
Soil Quality for Crop Production Systems
Soil and Water Conservation

Pumphrey, Michael

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Reardon, Catherine L

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Research Interests

Soil Microbiology

Reganold, John P, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture: Measuring the effects of alternative and conventional farming systems on agricultural sustainability indicators, such as soil health, crop yield and quality, financial performance, environmental quality, and social responsibility.

Sanguinet, Karen, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Research focus on factors that modulate growth and development. Study of root architecture of the Pooideae subfamily of temperate grasses using developmental, genetic and genomics approaches.

Schillinger, William F, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Conservation-till and no-till farming methods to control wind erosion, increased cropping intensity in typical wheat-fallow areas, water stress physiology of wheat, ecology of Russian thistle, epidemiology of the fungal root pathogen Rhizoctonia solani in no-till soils, alternative crops, and soil and residue management practices to increase water storage and efficient use of precipitation.

Sharratt, Brenton

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Skinner, Daniel Z, PhD

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Wheat gene expression dynamics in Response to cold temperature;
Physiological Response of Wheat During the Freezing Process;
Inheritance of Freezing Stress Tolerance;
Developing Winter Hardy Wheat Germplasm.

Steber, Camille M, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Characterization of stress resistance genes and mechanisms, & improvement and genotyping of wheat and barley germplasm for the Western U.S.

Streubel, Jason Dale

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Sullivan, Tarah S, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Soil microbial communities and their interactions and impacts on metal bioavailability.

Swanson, Mark, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Tao, Haiying, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Soil fertility and Best nutrient management practices for optimum crop yield, while aware of environmental concerns

Vanvleet, Stephen M

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Yu, Long-Xi, Ph.D.

Serves as: co-chair or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Applying genomic tools for enhancing resistance to biotic and abiotic stress in forage crops.

Zhang, Zhiwu, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Research focusing on developing statistical methods and computing tools to advance biomedical researches toward improved healthcare management and sustainable food production.

Contact Information:

Academic Coordinator
Johnson Hall Graduate Center
Pullman, WA 99164