College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Master of Science in Agriculture


Meet Our Students!




Sara Calicchia

Program: MS in Ag-Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Flavor enhancement using chemesthetic chemicals

Education: B.S in Animal Science, Utah State University

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


Calicchia_SI grew up in Utah, and was originally drawn to agriculture when summer horseback riding lessons turned into a life-long passion. During college, I was involved in several research avenues, including ruminant nutrition, the links of music and writing, and animal reproduction. I graduated from USU in 2015, and worked in genetics research for a year until finding my true passion, flavor chemistry. I currently reside in Illinois and am working under a Certified Senior Flavorist at Kerry. I started the online MS in AG program in Summer 2017 with Dr. Rasco as my advisor. My research focus is how the use of chemesthetic chemicals, such as coolants (e.g menthol), in flavors can increase intensity perception, “positive” flavor characteristics such as juiciness or ripeness, and overall consumer liking. In my free time, I enjoy riding my Friesian horse, reading novels, cooking and baking, and hiking and camping with my husband.


Lauren Chesmore

Program: MS in Ag- Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Dairy Science and Cheese Making in Sheep Dairies

Education: B.S Animal Science

Advisor: Dr. Zhu

Lauren ChesmoreI grew up in Des Moines, Iowa and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from Iowa State University in May 2012. I became a student in MS in Ag online at WSU in May 2014 under Dr. Rasco. After graduating, I moved down to Knoxville, Iowa where my fiancé and I have a 35 acre diversified farm with chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep, dogs, cats, and a pony. We both have a strong passion for farming and work full time in the Agriculture industry. I am currently a hog buyer for Tyson Fresh Meats. Currently, we are working on starting a Sheep Dairy which will be the focus of my research.


Yael Claussen

Program: MS in Ag-Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Nutrient Biofortification of Crops

Education: B.A Environmental Science-Sustainable Agriculture, Warren Wilson College

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


Claussen_YOriginally from New York City, I now live on the island of Kauai, HI where I work in agricultural research to create new varieties of seeds for farmers. I have a background in various types of farming operations. My research focus will be looking at nutritional aspects of biofortified sorghum which is a humanitarian program to enrich the staple grain of Africa in order to alleviate vitamin deficiencies in the region’s population. I became an online WSU student January, 2014 with Barbara Rasco as my advisor. I have a wonderful husband and 2 young boys. We enjoy being active outdoors, enjoying the beautiful island that we live on.


Krista Cole

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Sustainability, Food systems

Education: B.S Biology, minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Texas A&M University

Advisor: Dr. Goldberger

Cole_KI’m from San Antonio, TX and graduated from Texas A&M University in 2006. Serving for the Peace Corps in Panama for two years sparked my interest in rural sociology and sustainable food production. To explore food systems in the US, I worked on a 140 acre vegetable farm in Pennsylvania. I want to connect farmers and consumers so that we can all have access to healthy food that is grown in a manner respectful of the environment and our bodies. I enjoy being outside, camping, good food, dancing, playing music, experiencing new cultures, spending time with awesome people and trying new things. I’m so happy to be accepted to WSU in the fall of 2014 under the guidance of Jessica Goldberger. I believe connecting to students, professors, farmers, and consumers will be a great venture!


Emily Ellis

Program: MS in Ag-Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Gluten-free alternatives, product manufacturing and food technology

Education: B.S Nutrition, Indiana University of PA (IUP); Diploma in European Culinary Management, DCT Swiss Hotel Management School; Culinary Certificate, IUP Academy of Culinary Arts

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


Ellis, EmilyBorn and raised in Lancaster County, PA, fresh & local food was never hard to come by. It was at a young age that my passion for recipe creation grew.This love of food led me to obtain two culinary degrees, one which allowed me to study all things chocolate & pastry in Switzerland. Then, I decided I should learn how to make those sweet treats a bit healthier and furthered my education with a BS in Nutrition.

My culinary training has allowed me to work as a Pastry Chef in Switzerland, an Executive Chef in Pennsylvania, and cook for events such as the Taste of the NFL at the Super Bowl. I currently work in Quality Assurance and Food Safety for a food manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania.  My ultimate goal is to enter the realm of product research and development.

I joined WSU in the spring of 2016 to pursue my MS in Ag – Food Science & Management online option.

I will be working with Dr. Rasco, with a research focus on how the cultivation and processing of grains, flours & gluten free alternatives effects their application in cooking, baking & product manufacturing.


Mike Emmans

Program: MS in Ag

Advisor: Dr. Carraway


Emmans bio photoMy Undergraduate degree is in Biology. I worked for an independent crop consultant in the summers during my time at college. I then worked briefly as a lab tech for a research entomologist an USDA-ARS lab. During my time at the lab I was offered a job teaching at a local private High School. I accepted the position and began working again for the same crop consultant in the summers. I was managing a small pear and hay operation at the time. After teaching for a while I realized that agriculture is the ultimate science field. I am interested in becoming proficient at teaching agriculture and understanding the factors that lead to sustainable high yields.



Cameron Fancher

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Potato post harvest physiology

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


Cameron Fancher

I am currently working with Conagra Foods Lamb Weston at their potato processing plant in Warden, Washington. I started there in 2011. Prior to that I attended Eastern Washington University. My area of interest is preserving potato quality post harvest, particularly during long-term storage.






Steven Floerchinger

Program: MS in Ag-Plant Health Management

Research Interest: Healthy soils and plant pathology in relation to apple production in Western Washington

Education: B.A in Anthropology, University of Montana; M.D University of Washington School of Medicine; Internship and Residency in General Surgery, Emanuel Hospital – Bess Kaiser Integrated Surgical Residency

Advisor: Dr. Miles


Floerchinger_SAfter completing my residency in general surgery I returned  to Anchorage and practiced general and thoracic surgery for 21 years. For the last 5 years I have been practicing exclusively trauma and acute care surgery as a founding partner in Alaska Trauma and Acute Care Surgery (ATACS) in Anchorage. I am continuing to work there two weeks of every month.

Two years ago we moved to Poulsbo, Washington where we have established a small apple orchard as well as growing cherries and blueberries. I have long been interested in the parallels that can be drawn between the soil micro biome and the function of the human intestinal flora. I joined the WSU MS in Agriculture program in Fall of 2018. My research interest is healthy soils and plant pathology as it related to the challenges of apple production in Western Washington.

My outside interests include horseback riding, refereeing and practicing Judo, and helping my kids with caring for the chickens and ducks on our farm.



Francoise Gakuba

Program: MS in Ag-Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Food safety education in developing countries of Africa

Education: B.S Food Science and Technology, Gitega Higher Institute of Agriculture, University of Burundi

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


 I graduated with a BS degree in Food Science and Technology from the University of Burundi. I started to work on a MS degree in AGRI this spring 2014. I will be working, with Doctor Barbara Rasco, on developing an Educational Project about Food Safety in Developing Country of Africa, with the objective of reducing household foodborne illness risk.

Brennan Goodman

Program: MS in Ag-Plant Health Management

Research Interest: Soil Fertility

Education: B.S Biology & Environmental Sciences, Hardin-Simmons University

Advisor: Dr. Guy


Goodman_BI am 23, in May 2013 I received a Bachelor’s degree, and in January 2014 I began school at WSU in pursuit of a Masters degree. I am currently enrolled online, so that I can continue to work full time for Risk Management & Engineering, Ltd. This is an environmental consulting company that provides expert consultation and appropriate documentation for companies that manufacture, store, and sell EPA regulated chemicals and pesticide products. We also service agriculture companies that require air permits for various fertilizer products. It is our duty to keep these companies in compliance with laws that are enforced at the state and federal legislations. My plans for the near future are to move to Washington State and begin work and research with The McGregor Company. Outside of school and work I like to spend my time playing soccer, snowboarding, and traveling to new places.


Amy Griffith

Program: MS in Ag-Plant Health Management

Research Interest: Reaction of the native Quercus stellata to urbanization in the rapidly growing area of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

Education: B.S in Management Studies; University of Maryland European Division

Advisor: Dr. Swanson



 My education began over 20 years ago when I graduated from University of Maryland European Division with a BS in Management Studies. In Germany where I lived, there wasn’t a lot of choices in degree plans, but Management Studies seemed broad enough to help me with whatever I planned to do in the future. Much later, I decided to focus on my love for trees and I became a certified arborist. I continue to enjoy helping people with the care of their trees and sharing my experiences with my students at Tarrant County College. Now in my late 40s, I’ve decided to deepen my knowledge of plants. Witnessing the interaction of all living things in nature gives me a sense of peace and excitement. My focus for my research will be on how our native Quercus stellata responds to urbanization in the rapidly growing area of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

Sara Hurtubise

Program: MS in Ag-Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Product Development, Rapid Prototyping, and Sustainability

Education: B.S in Food Science & Human Nutrition

Advisor: Dr. Rasco



 Hurtubise_SI was born and raised on the east coast of Florida. I’m originally from Port Saint Lucie, FL, but I am currently living in center city Philadelphia, PA (Go Eagles!). I have a Bachelor of Science in Food Science & Human Nutrition from the University of Florida (class of 2014). I have worked at Campbell Soup Company for the last two and a half years, and I previously worked at ABC Research Laboratories. My research focus is rapid prototyping and product development, but I also have a passion for sustainability. In my free time, I like to eat as much unique food as possible (I love going to new restaurants and to different countries to eat foods that are out of the ordinary). I began studying at WSU Fall 2017. My advisor is Dr. Barbara Rasco.  


Yorav Dave Klawer

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Maximizing yields while limiting use of vital resources

Education: B.S Nursing- Western Washington University, Associates Degree in Nursing – Central New Mexico Community College

Advisor: Dr. Miles


Yorav Klawer bio photoFor the past 10 years I have been working as a Registered Nurse, caring for women, babies, and their families through the labor and delivery process. After assisting in more than 4,000 births while working in a hospital setting, I have found myself longing to be outside in the fields.

I earned my Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Western Washington University. Fall of 2016, I will begin the MSAG program at WSU under the advisement of Dr. Carol Miles.

My research interests include finding ways to maintain and or increase yield, while conserving vital resources such as water. Water is becoming evermore scarce. By developing new methods or studying existing methods of water application and conservation in agriculture, we can optimize water use and still grow healthy plants with maximum yield. I hope that the research I complete at WSU can be disseminated throughout the agricultural and scientific communities to aid in resource conservation as well as production.

I love to be outside! I enjoy traveling, hiking, camping, running, bicycling, gardening, cooking, skiing, hunting, and fishing. In 2012 I finished the Seattle marathon. In 2013 I climbed Mt Rainier. My wife and I live in Mount Vernon, WA and we have 3 children.

I hope to become a commercial farmer and get high quality food to people within my community and throughout the region.


Porter Long

Program: MS in Ag- Food Science Management

Research Interest: Fermentation Science, Flavor Chemistry, Dairy Processing

Education: B.S Food Science

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


Long_P When I was six years old, my mom entered me into a 4H club dairy competition, and with her assistance I made homemade yogurt and strawberry jam from strawberries grown in our garden. I ended up winning a T-shirt that had cows jumping across it and said “Get Mooooving with Milk”. I guess I took that to heart because not 20 years after that experience, I am currently working at Chobani as an R&D Scientist. I have been working at Chobani for two years after receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Food Science. I work on the “Flip”, yogurt mix-in products and have had the opportunity to develop products like “S’more S’mores”, “Mint Chocolate”, “Coffee Brownie Bliss”, “Honey Crunch Bunch”, and “Buttercrunch Blast”, and “Blueberry B-Fast”. Outside of work and school I am married to my wife Maren who works at Glanbia in R&D as a Cheese Scientist and we have two dogs, Bani and Roux. In my free time I enjoy rock climbing, disc golf, cooking, fermentation experiments, reading, and coaching our local Twin Falls Tators Special Olympics team.


Alec M. Lowell

Program: MS in Ag- Food Science Management

Research Interest: Aquaculture, Food Microbiology, and Animal Husbandry

Education: B.S in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University, Denver

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


alec lowellAlec found an early passion for food at a young age cooking in his home kitchen. Alec worked in several kitchens searching for his niche in the culinary industry. This is where he found his desire for the highest quality of food. Alec pursued this desire, and applied for a B.S. of Culinary Nutrition at Johnson & Wales University Denver, with concentrated studies in both food science and clinical dietetics. Upon completion of this degree, Alec discovered that the highest quality restaurants obtain their food from farms. It was with this knowledge that Alec was able to plan his next step to pursue a farm that will provide for his restaurant. With this further drive, Alec enrolled in Washington State University’s M.S. of Agriculture in Food Science and Management. His hope is that this program and the knowledge he acquires will further his ability to reach his goal of owning a farm to table restaurant.


Steven McKechnie

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Plant Disease and Health

Education: B.S Plant Biology

Advisor: Dr. Tim Waters




Steven is an Agronomist in southern Colorado where he works largely with potatoes and barley. He enjoys using his B.S. in Plant Biology from UC Davis to bring science to his community and the local farming operations. Steven joined WSU in Spring of 2018 with Dr. Tim Waters as his advisor. Steven is interested in epidemiology and how it can be applied to disease control in cropping systems.



Scott Minckler

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Permaculture and Organic Agriculture

Education: B.S Biology

Advisor: Dr. Reganold


Minckler_Scott1While growing up in Montana, I spent much time on family members’ farms, developing an interest in the land. My career path took me into healthcare as a physical therapist, but lately I realized that I am drawn toward sustainable agriculture. I feel that I can broaden my impact on societal health by returning to graduate school to pursue studies and research in sustainable agriculture, which I feel is crucial to the health and balance of our ecosphere. My research relates to improving agroecological design through utilization of the permaculture concept. My project will design a permaculture plot located on the new WSU Eggert Family Organic Farm. My thesis will assert that a farming system that incorporates the permaculture concepts of natural biological cycles and local ecology can be an improvement over conventional designs. For agriculture, the implications of a system that reduces human-made inputs and enhances sustainability, productivity and ecological compatibility are potentially very great. I believe that permaculture systems have an important future role in maintaining the viability and health of our agriculture.


Elizabeth Moffitt

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Economic benefits of GMOs

Education: B.A International Business, WSU

Advisor: Dr. Fortenbery


Moffit_EI’m originally from eastern Washington, I grew up working for my family’s farm in the Columbia Basin. I studied International Business at WSU, graduated in 2008; since graduation I’ve been working and traveling overseas. While traveling I’m always interested in the agri-economy, food production and sustainability of where I am. I’ve worked with an environmental NGO in Malawi, with a focus on sustainability. In Australia I worked with farm managers and agronomists on two different farms (a cotton farm in the Outback and a grain seed production farm in the Kimberley). I’ve recently returned to a ‘rural’ area of South Korea where I teach English at a technical high school. I started the online MS in AG program Spring 2014 researching the economic benefits of GMOs, how they have changed farming practices and effects on sustainability.


Paula Moore

Program: MS in Ag; Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture

Research Interest: Germination protocol for native cool season grass

Education: AA in Education & AS in Veterinary Science, Centralia College; B.S Animal Science, Washington State University

Advisor: Dr. Koenig


Moore_PI am from Lacey, WA. I joined WSU as a classified staff in ’97 with the Dept. of Plant Introduction and Seed Testing. I worked as a WSU Classified Ag. Research Tech. with a great national plant and seed conservation program (USDA-ARS, NPGS) for the last 17 years. I recently changed jobs and now work for Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Commodity Inspection Seed Program. I am the Certified Seed Program Field Inspector Supervisor. I relocated to Yakima, Washington in August, 2014 with my family. I had a wonderful 22 years living on the Palouse and working for WSU. I returned to college in Spring, 2010 with aspirations to obtain a Masters Degree. I officially started pursuing a MS in Ag the Spring, 2012. I will finish my MS degree online from Yakima. My research interests are to develop germination protocol for native grass species commonly used for reclamation and land restoration purposes. My anticipated graduation date is December, 2015! I am married and have three teenagers (18, 17, and 15). My interests outside of career or academics include camping, boating, horseback riding and community involvement. I have been active with FFA and 4H club community events. I am a certified 4H shooting sports instructor. In 2012, I joined the Albion Volunteer Fire & EMS Department. I am a lifetime WSU football fan – GO COUGS!!


Tom Muscatine

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Organic Viticulture

Education: B.A English Literature, A.S in Viticulture

Advisor: Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs and Dr. Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel



MuscatineTom Muscatine is currently the winemaker and vineyard manager for his family winery, “Muscatine Vineyard,” located in Soda Canyon, Napa.  He is also the vineyard manger for the Napa Valley College Estate Vineyard and is an Adjunct Instructor for the Viticulture and Winery Technology Department at NVC.Tom moved to Napa Valley in 2002 from Los Angeles. His last career was a recording engineer and before that Tom was a high school teacher, scuba instructor, stage manager and assistant photographer.  Tom feels like he can finally rest his hat on his new career in Viticulture. He has always loved nature, and farming and has finally found his true calling.

Tom holds a BA in English Literature and an AS in Viticulture.


Ashley Nunes

Program: MS in Ag – Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Dairy Science, Feeding and growing population with science, such as using GM crops.

Education: B.S in Food Science and Industry, Kansas State University

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


 Nunes, ABecoming an assistant in the applications lab at Hilmar Ingredients in 2010 sparked my passion for food science. Since then, I have completed my BS in Food Science through the distance program at Kansas State University, graduating in 2015. My degree, combined with experience with formulating and processing resulted in a promotion to a Food Scientist. Growing up in the central valley of California, agriculture has always been a love of mine, as it is home. Food science has further defined my focus with a perfect blend of creativity and stringent repeatability. I will start the pursuit of my Masters at WSU, Summer 2018 with the guidance of Dr. Barbara Rasco. My interests are heavy in the dairy industry, with my background with whey proteins as well as using science such as GMO’s to feed a growing population. In America, natural, organic, and the project verified butterfly, etc. are growing. If America stops production of GM crops or seeds, we may in turn affect the rest of the world too, who may be happy to have disease resistance seeds/crops for farming and consumption while also increasing sustainability.


Vanessa Rutherford

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Implementation of advanced agricultural technologies, effective agricultural management and leadership methods

Education: AAS Metals Technology, Community College of the Air Force; B.S Agricultural Sciences Summa Cum Laude, Oregon State University

Advisor: Dr. Amit Dhingra


Rutherford_VI grew up in Elma, Washington, a small farming and logging community. I was heavily involved in Agriculture Education programs in my youth  (4H & FFA), and I still enjoy working with these programs as an adult volunteer. I’ve been a lifelong Cougar fan and have loved the university for many years. I spent my freshman year of my undergraduate career at WSU, and I’m happy to be back now that I have finished my Agricultural Sciences B.S from Oregon State University.

Over the years I’ve worked in animal and livestock production, fabrication maintenance in the military, and commercial nursery production management. I have pursued the MSAG program because the coursework will allow me to build technical and management skills that revolve around the agriculture industry.

I enjoy spending time on the water, rifle and trap shooting, being outdoors, reading non-fiction literature (especially nature and science), visiting breweries & wineries, and doing all of the above with family and friends.

Anais M. Rodriguez Rodriguez

Program: MS in Ag- Plant Health Management

Research Interest: Crop Protection, Phytopathology

Education: B.A Biology, University of Puerto Rico & PUPR

Advisor: Dr. Carol Miles



I was born and grew up in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I attended the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez campus and Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico where I completed my bachelor degree in Biology. I have worked for DuPont Pioneer in Puerto Rico in the Agronomy Department since 2009. In this role, my experience is in soil preparation, integrated pest management, nutrition, irrigation and weed management. Currently, I lead the Pest and Disease Management program for the greenhouses. My research interest is focused on new technologies and applications for pest and disease management specifically for greenhouses and transplant structures. I joined WSU in the summer of 2017 and Dr. Carol Miles is my advisor.  


Leah Rottke

Program: MS in Ag

Research Interest: Sustainable practices in horticulture and urban agriculture

Education: B.A., UCSD; A.S., Southwestern College

Advisor: Dr. Chalker-Scott


Rottke_LLeah Rottke is an arborist, certified by the International Society of Arboriculture and a landscape horticulturist with over twenty years field experience. She is currently an adjunct faculty member of Cuyamaca College’s Ornamental Horticulture Department. She also has more than ten years experience in development & presentation of community education events promoting arboriculture and landscape horticulture, including service as a volunteer arborist with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. Additionally, she works as a freelance horticultural journalist, with over 50 articles published in national and regional landscape industry periodicals, and the book, The Home Orchard Handbook (Quarry Books, 2011.) She currently lives and works in San Diego, California.


Edward Tanner

Program: MS in Ag- Plant Health Management

Research Interest: Disease and pest management in unheated winter high-tunnel production

Education: B.S angeland Resource Science (Wildland Soil Science option); Humboldt State University

Advisor: Dr. Jeremy Cowan




Eddie began his career in vegetable farming in 1999, and completed a B.S in Soil Science in 2003. He began his own farm business, DeepSeeded Farm, in Arcata, California in 2008. His primary research interest is in managing diseases, pests, and the timing of winter vegetables in unheated high-tunnels in order to better meet local demand in the “off season”.





Holly Tennant

Program: MS in Ag-Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Regional variability of cider apples

Education: B.Sc. Human Nutrition summa cum laude McGill University

Advisor: Dr. Carolyn Ross

Internship mentor: Dr. Carol Miles


Holly TennantI was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada.  I started post-secondary studies in French Language & Literature on Vancouver Island.  I left my studies before graduating and spent a year in the Rhône-Alpes region of France and in Nyon, Switzerland.  I moved on to study Biology at the University of Northern British Columbia, and then moved again to finish my B.Sc. in Human Nutrition (2005) in Montreal, Quebec. In 2005 I moved to New York City with my husband and daughter, and a year later my son was born.  While in Manhattan I wrote a food blog and volunteered in nutrition education in East Harlem.  Finally, I worked briefly in Aboriginal Health in Vancouver, B.C. before moving to Northwestern Washington and joining WSU in September 2013.


Ashley Wade

Program: MS in Ag-Food Science and Management

Research Interest: Food Law and Technology

Education: B.S Nutritional Sciences & B.S Anthropology; Michigan State University

Advisor: Dr. Rasco


Wade_AOriginally from Marquette, Michigan I earned a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences along with a B.S. in Anthropology in May of 2013. I have since relocated to Seattle, WA to be nearer to my fiancé. During my undergraduate I worked for Michigan State University Residential Dining where I created and carried out training programs for the kitchen area of the dining facility. It was this experience with both students and management that got me interested in combining my academic experience with nutrition and my organizational management skills gained during my job. I was initially drawn to the MS in Ag Food Science Management program because of its flexibility for distance learners and the suite of science and business skills. I will be working with Dr. Rasco with a main focus in dealing with food law, technology and product development.


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