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College of Arts and Sciences food & agriculture

Dr. Universe: How was popcorn discovered?

Dr. UniverseThere’s nothing quite like making popcorn: the snapping kernels, the warm buttery smell, and the knowledge that a delicious snack will be ready in minutes. It gives you some good time to think and wonder: how did humans first start doing this?

To find out where popcorn came from, I visited my friend Erin Thornton, an archaeologist at WSU. Archaeologists study how humans lived in the past—including the things they ate. To learn the story of popcorn, we have to trace the history of maize. » More …

Funding boost to develop rice for the future

Rice fields.WSU is part of an international effort involving seven institutions to revolutionize rice production. Led by co-principal investigator Asaph Cousins, a professor in WSU’s School of Biological Sciences, and colleagues at University of Oxford, the “C4 Rice Project” recently earned a five‑year, $15 million grant renewal from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project aims to develop rice strains that are not only more productive but also more resilient. The long‑term effort, which was first conceived in » More …

Plant science relationship growing across the Atlantic

Rachael DeTar, Alexander Aleman, and Stanislav Kopriva.WSU’s growing collaboration with Germany’s interdisciplinary Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences (CEPLAS) is adding a global perspective to the University’s work to advance agricultural science and develop sustainable methods of food production.

Earlier this summer, a WSU delegation of seven graduate students attended the annual International CEPLAS Summer School near Cologne and brought home awards for best oral and best poster presentations.

Five WSU faculty also presented their work during the week‑long event and continued discussions to establish research interactions that will benefit faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and » More …

‘Apple to Glass’ grant supports improving cider industry

Apples and a glass of ciderHard apple cider is growing in popularity around the country, and craft ciders from small cideries are the fastest growing segment of that market.

Equipped with a grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a new group, led by Washington State University researchers, will work with orchardists and cider makers to develop the best apples to make the tasty libation. » More …