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WSU plant, animal scientists ranked 13th internationally

PULLMAN – Plant and animal scientists at Washington State University are among the most productive and most impactful in the world, according to rankings recently released by Thomson Reuters.
In its “Essential Science Indicators,” the business and professional information gathering company ranked WSU 13th in the world and sixth in the United States based on the number of journal articles produced by faculty scientists, but more importantly, on the number citations those articles generated. From January 1999 to June 2009, WSU researchers produced 2,473 scientific papers, which garnered 32,544 citations by other scientists.
“This ranking is by citations per paper among those institutions that have collected 25,000 or more citations in plant and animal sciences,” according to the company. “The ranking by citations per paper seeks to reveal heavy-hitters based on per paper influence, not mere output.”
That reflects the quality and scope of plant and animal science being conducted at WSU in the colleges of science, veterinary medicine and agricultural, human, and natural resources sciences, said Howard Grimes, WSU vice president for research.
“The fact that the science we’re producing is foundational to other work being done around the globe is especially important,” he said. “This speaks volumes about the kind of inquiry we’re tackling.”
Essential Science Indicators lists institutions ranked in the top 1 percent for a field over a given period, based on total citations. For the current version, 887 institutions are listed in the field of plant and animal sciences. Of those, just 40 collected 25,000 or more citations.
Other institutions in the Top 20 include University of California Berkeley, University of Washington, Cornell University, Purdue University and Iowa State University, as well as institutions from the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Germany.

Headlines — Guns for faculty?; College ranking debate

Following are links to several recent media articles regarding WSU faculty and staff, or addressing issues in higher education. To see a full article, just click on the live URL link.

* — Profs may get guns. The Nevada Board of Regents has endorsed a plan that would allow some faculty and staff members to carry concealed guns on public-college campuses and to become reserve police officers. See

* (audio podcast) —  ‘U.S. News’ editor vs. Critic of college rankings in debate. Click on the following link to listen to the debate,

* Columbian (Vancouver, WA) — Incoming WSU president hits the ground running; Elson Floyd talks about future changes at WSU,

Survey ranks WSU plant, animal scientists among top in nation

PULLMAN– Washington State University scientists conducting research on plants and animals are among the most productive in the nation, according to a survey measuring faculty scholarly productivity published recently in The Chronicle for Higher Education.
WSU plant scientists were ranked the fifth most productive in the United States. WSU’s zoology program ranked No. 10 in the nation. The rankings place WSU plant scientists and zoologists in the very top tier of the approximately 7,300 doctoral programs around the country evaluated in the survey.
“This honor truly recognizes the breadth and depth of our plant science and zoology programs,” said James Petersen, WSU vice president for research. “Ranging from basic research in plant molecular sciences through the field application of new discoveries, these teams benefit science, Washington agriculture, energy and human health.”
Overall, WSU plant scientists ranked second in terms of number of journal articles published per faculty member in the category (only Berkeley ranked higher in that area) and third in the percentage of faculty whose work was cited by another work.
Ralph Cavalieri, associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences and director of the Agricultural Research Center, said, “This ranking confirms the quality, energy and intellect of our plant science faculty.”
Michael Griswold, dean of the WSU College of Sciences, agreed. “Research in the plant sciences is clearly a strength at WSU and in the College of Sciences,” he said.
Cavalieri and Griswold emphasized that many have contributed to the overall success of WSU plant sciences programs and cited several examples of work by plant science faculty at WSU that have had global impact.
In CAHNRS, Professor Norman G. Lewis, director of WSU’s interdisciplinary Institute for Biological Chemistry, focuses much of his research on how land-based plants, those with a structural vascular apparatus, produce lignins. While lignins help give plants and trees rigidity, they must also be broken down or eliminated in order to use them for production of paper, fuel and other bioproducts.
Professor John Browse researches the bioengineering of plants ­ such as soybeans, canola and flax ­ to produce oils with lower levels of saturated omega-6 fatty acids, while increasing levels of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Related research also focuses on engineering plants to produce more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels and petrochemicals.
Professor Kulvinder Gill, the Vogel Chair for Wheat Breeding and Genetics, is working to better understand the wheat genome and manipulate it for crop improvement using modern techniques and tools. His team already has provided unequivocal evidence that most wheat genes are present in physically small regions encompassing less than 10 percent of the genome.
In the College of Sciences, Professor Gerald Edwards works on the effects of environmental stress and global climate change on carbon acquisition and usage in photosynthesis of higher plants, with current research focusing on a novel type of photosynthesis. The recently discovered mechanism may be instrumental in engineering crops, such as rice, to produce greater yields, especially under climate changes occurring with global warming.

Associate Professor Mechthild Tegeder is interested in how pea, soybean and other plants acquire, distribute and use nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient to plant growth and survival but also for production of seeds with high amounts of nutritional proteins. One goal is to generate crop plants or plant products of enhanced protein quality for human food.
The WSU Zoology program was ranked No. 10 among the rated schools in research productivity. The Zoology program is housed in the School of Biological Sciences in the College of Sciences.

“We are especially pleased to be recognized for our research productivity,” said Gary Thorgaard, director of the school, “given that our unit is also very active and successful in teaching and student advising. Research contributions of our younger faculty have been particularly notable.
“Our research and teaching efforts are closely linked,” Thorgaard added. “Our faculty members have been very successful in obtaining support from the National Science Foundation, including major research equipment grants and grants for cooperative training and instructional projects such as projects for training graduate students in biological and cultural evolution together with the WSU Department of Anthropology, and for training undergraduates in mathematical biology together with the Department of Mathematics.” 

The survey, published in The Chronicle, is based on results of the Faculty Scholarly Productivity index, a new, annual index of research programs.

Partly financed by the State University of New York at Stony Brook and produced by for-profit Academic Analytics, the survey rates faculty members’ scholarly output at nearly 7,300 doctoral programs around the country. It examines the number of book and journal articles published by each program’s faculty as well as journal citations, awards, honors and grants received. The most recent index is based on data from 2005.

Find the study online at



Cougs ranked 14th in both national polls

The Washington State Univerity men’s basketball team is ranked 14th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today national polls announced Monday, Feb. 5.

The rankings in the AP poll equals the highest by the Cougars (19-4, 8-3 Pacific-10) in school history. Washington State was ranked 14th, by the Associated Press Jan. 25, 1949.

Washington State has appeared in the AP poll four different weeks this season, the most in school history. The Cougars have been ranked the last three weeks, also a first in school history. WSU was ranked for three weeks in 1948-49 and 1949-50, but not in succession.

The Cougars are coming off road wins at Arizona and Arizona State and will host Stanford (No. 25 Associated Press), Thursday at 7 p.m. California will be in Pullman to take on the WSU at 2 p.m., Saturday.

See related articles:

* Seattle P-I,

* Seattle Times,


Business program ranks high nationally in US News

The Washington State University College of Business and Economics’ undergraduate business program is among the 10 best in western U.S. public universities, according to newly-released rankings in U.S. News and World Report: America’s Best Colleges 2006 publication.

In overall national rankings, the College’s international business program received an exceptional ranking of 22nd; it has been in the top 25 for the past three years.

In overall rankings including private schools, the WSU business program placed 87th, and 56th among public schools. The number of ranked schools increased to 166 this year, from 131 last year.

“We are very honored that our programs are held in such high esteem and that we are recognized for offering a truly world-class education to our students,” said CBE Dean Eric R. Spangenberg. “It has been our mission to provide exceptional undergraduate business education, and this ranking validates that we are on course.”

The U.S. News and World Report annual rankings appeared online August 19, three days before the start of WSU’s 2005-6 academic year. The ratings are the result of averaged peer evaluations by more than 450 business schools with undergraduate programs accredited by AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Administrators assess programs’ overall quality, taking into account factors such as curriculum, record of scholarship, and quality of faculty, students, and graduates.

In an effort to increase external recognition of the excellence of its programs, the CBE set a goal in 2004 to increase its peer assessment score by .1 each year—an ambitious goal that only 4.5% of ranked schools were able to accomplish in 2004.

“We are pleased to have raised our assessment score from 2.7 last year to 2.8 this year,” Spangenberg says. “Our 2.8 designation puts us in company with institutions such as Texas Tech University, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and the University of Colorado.”

Among public schools in the western states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii, the WSU business school’s assessment rating put it into top 10 category. It is in company with the undergraduate business programs at the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Arizona, the University of Washington, Arizona State University, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Utah, the University of Oregon, San Diego State University, the University of California-Riverside, and Colorado State University.

Other recent rankings highlight CBE excellence. In 2005, Entrepreneur magazine rated the CBE entrepreneurship major as the top entrepreneurship emphasis program in Washington. Management and Operations faculty ranked 18th in research productivity in a 2003 study. The MIS program has been benchmarked as the largest and most comprehensive in the Northwest and its faculty ranked among the top 20 in the nation for research published in premier MIS journals. The School of Hospitality Business Management ranked as the top provider of career services to its students.

WSU earns top 50 ranking in U.S. News & World Report

In annual rankings released today, U.S. News & World Report placed Washington State University among the top 50 public research universities in the United States. WSU was tied for 48th among all public research universities with Michigan Tech, University of Alabama and University of Arizona.

In the magazine’s “Programs to Look For” section, WSU was cited as one of 13 research institutions that do a particularly good job of making writing a priority in all levels of instruction and curricula.

“I appreciate this national recognition of the work of our faculty and staff,” WSU President V. Lane Rawlins said. “Our outstanding faculty, research programs, and emphasis on undergraduate education have made Washington State University a first choice for more and more outstanding students. We intend to continue this momentum in the years ahead.”