Sharing resources, combining expertise

Don Knowles has three job titles.  First, he works for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the research leader of one of the six research units at WSU Pullman.

Five of those units – which focus on plant research, germplasm conservation, land management, air quality and water issues – are housed at the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). Knowles leads the sixth unit: the animal disease research unit at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Second, he is the ARS location coordinator, the liaison between the federal agency and WSU.

Third, he is an adjunct professor, participating in graduate education at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Knowles is one of 42 ARS scientists stationed at WSU. Most also hold faculty appointments.

“This is a true federal/state partnership,” he explained. “We share resources and expertise. We are truly integrated, working together in the same buildings, working together to solve problems and to train the scientists of the future.

“We have built here what is known nationally as a model program,” he continued. “That’s a fact.”

This model partnership greatly benefits WSU and its students, said Ralph Cavalieri, associate dean of research at CAHNRS. 

“Having the ARS scientists integrated into our university increases the diversity of scientific expertise available and expands our options,” Cavalieri noted. “The ARS researchers provide valuable counsel on graduate committees and, as federal scientists, they have access to equipment and other resources that enrich the capabilities of our departments.
“There are lots of very tangible benefits.”

An example is the Animal Disease Biotechnology Facility, built in 1999 between the College of Veterinary Medicine and the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
“Together, we (representatives of both WSU and ARS) wrote the proposal that funded the building,” Knowles said. “Now, we share the building.”

“Our successful relationship shows how institutions can work in symbiotic fashion, where the sum effort is much greater than what we could get from both components,” said Warwick Bayly, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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