The Uniqueness of Pacific Northwest Flora and Fauna
C.V. Piper

Largely self-taught as a naturalist, Piper believed he needed to classify the flora and fauna of the PNW so other scientists could better understand the uniqueness of area. Published Flora of the Palouse Region (1901), Flora of the State of Washington (1906), Insect Pests of the Garden, Farm, and Orchard (1895), and many other books, including works on hay, soybeans, and other crops.

Allopolyploid formation as a mode of speciation
Marion Ownbey

Ownbey’s work on Tragopogon (goat’s beard, salsify, or oyster plant) on the Palouse was a first, seminal demonstration of the speed and viability of allopolyploid formation (hybrids of two species) as a mode of speciation, and especially that it could be rapid speciation. (submitted by Larry Hufford)

Ida Lou’s “Masterpiece” – 1930s

CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, ’30, took 19 speech classes at WSU, mostly from fellow alum Ida Lou Anderson, speech professor, broadcasting coach and advisor to one of the nation’s first educational broadcasting stations. Anderson called Murrow her “masterpiece.” Said Murrow: “She taught me to speak.” In 1939, when he began the wartime broadcasts that made him famous, Anderson suggested the half-second pause in, “This… is London,” which became his signature phrase.

Spark-free paper, emotional stress meter, etc. – 1960
Homer Dana

Homer Dana retired with numerous patents, including one for spark-free electro-static recording paper for use in facsimile transmissions; and another for an emotional stress meter, a precursor to the lie detector test. He also developed an aircraft warning system for pilots and a fruit-washing machine. (submitted by Tina Hilding)

Washington Potatoes
Robert Kunkel

Kunkel is credited with saving Washington’s potato industry from internal black spot disease. Potato folks will tell you the industry wouldn’t have survived without that successful research. Kunkel retired from WSU in 1974 and spent the next two decades working in Bolivia, Egypt, Israel and Russia as a researcher and consultant. In 2000 the director general of the Consortium for International Development described Kunkel as “the greatest living potato physiologist.” (Submitted by Terry Day)

Rainier cherry
Harold Fogle

Bred as a cross-pollinator, the Rainier is a cross between a Bing and a Van. No one knew quite how good it could taste until a major frost severely thinned the Rainiers, leaving large, beautiful, superb-tasting fruit.

The Birthday King and other novels
Gabriel Fielding

English novelist Alan Barnsley was a visiting writer and eventually tenured professor of English. Writing under the pen name Gabriel Fielding, he turned out many well-received novels, including The Birthday King, for which he was awarded the W.H. Smith Award in 1964 for “the most outstanding contribution to English Literature over a two-year period.”

Geographic Mosaic Theory of Coevolution
John Thompson

Now at the University of California Santa Cruz, Thompson based much of his work at WSU in the Salmon River drainage. The geographic mosaic theory of coevolution argues that coevolving interactions have three components that, together, drive coevolutionary change. Those components are geographic selection mosaics, coevolutionary hotspots, and trait remixing.

Organic agriculture
John Reganold

Reganold obviously did not discover organics. But he was one of the first academic scientists to understand and explore its benefits. His earliest research showed the organic agriculture benefits of improving soil quality and decreasing soil erosion. Later, he showed the benefits of organic farming to crop quality, nutritional quality, energy efficiency, profitability, and pesticide impact on the environment. These results were published in Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Scientific American. Reganold’s work has led to at Organic Agriculture Systems major at WSU, the first such major in the US.

WA 2 apple
Bruce Barritt

Having long rested on the Red Delicious’s laurels, Washington finally got an apple truly its own.

Synthetic Taxol
Rodney Croteau

One of the most effective cancer-fighting drugs, taxol is currently manufactured from the bark of the western yew. National Institutes of Health awarded Croteau the first in a series of grants to trace Taxol’s genetic pathway using cell cultures from the Yew tree.

Kuzyk Limit
Mark Kuzyk

The fundamental limit to how much light an individual molecule can absorb. Kuzyk’s discovery has implications for a wide variety of applications, from optical switches in computers to advances in medicine.

Seven Deadly Sins
Charles Argersinger

The musical composition, not the sins themselves.

World Civilization Curriculum
Richard Law

Conceived as a thoroughly interdisciplinary curriculum, World Civilization initially had teachers from English, Philosophy, Music, Anthropology, History, etc. An enormously ambitious survey class.

Read the initial list in Big Ideas