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Department of Plant Science

Alumni Testimonials


Matt Beene

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Charles Krauter

Thesis research: Ammonia emissions from nitrogen fertilizer applications

The academic and practical experience received at Fresno State while earning a Master’s Degree in Plant Science made me a well-rounded individual, as a well as being technically trained for a career in agriculture. The wide array of research conducted by Fresno State faculty enabled me to obtain experience dealing with issues specific to Central California. My thesis research focused on air quality issues related to agriculture—specifically, ammonia emissions following nitrogen fertilizer application. The faculty in the Plant Science Department helped me to achieve my academic goals and they truly cared about each individual student in the program. I have found that my master’s degree from Fresno State has help to make me a desirable candidate for agricultural jobs in California. Currently, I am working as a Division Agronomist with Helena Chemical Company.

Vanessa Bremer

Thesis Advisors: Dr. John Bushoven and Dr. Carlos Cristoso (Univ. California- Kearney)

Thesis research: Fresh fig production and variety selection

Studying in the Plant Science graduate program has been a very positive experience for me, both professionally as well as personally. My M.S. degree in Plant Science from Fresno State has proven invaluable to my career in plant breeding, and I am constantly using the intellectual tools I developed during my time at the university. I believe that the courses offered in the program are very well-oriented and necessary for all Plant Science majors. Fresno State, being in the heart of the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley, is a great location to study Plant Science, with great opportunities for obtaining field experience. The professors of the program are outstanding, and I am very glad to have been able to benefit from their in-depth knowledge and broad experience. In addition, I also want to point out the great personality of my professors, who have always been extremely helpful and have made me feel at home.

Vijay Chaganti

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sharon Benes

Thesis title: Reclamation of saline-sodic soils


The Dept. of Plant Science at Fresno State provides every best opportunity for its graduate & undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing their careers in the field of agriculture. I think the main assets to the department are its outstanding faculty specializing in various fields of Agriculture and excellent research facilities with a graduate laboratory and a 1000 acre farm. Being an international student from India, the dept. has helped me a lot in adapting to this environment both academically and culturally. The faculty was very encouraging, friendly and cooperative in every aspect possible. Some of my main achievements were to conduct independent research and develop writing & speaking skills. This has enabled me to give public talks and presentations with ease and perfection.

I was very fortunate to have an outstanding thesis committee who helped me to conduct my research successfully right from the start of the project to results. With all the successful achievements made while I was in their Master’s program, I can definitely ascertain that I received the much-needed professional experience and could expand my horizons of knowledge & research interests, by working with the department's faculty. I strongly believe that this experience had made me a confident candidate for a Ph.D. program and has helped me in attaining admission at the Univ. of California, Riverside with full funding. I am very thankful to the faculty of Dept. of Plant Science for making me a poised professional student. Finally, I strongly believe that the Plant Science dept. at CSU Fresno continues to carry its academic and professional excellence in to the future generations.

Pedro Hernandez

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Andrew Lawson and Dr. Kent Daane (Univ. California- Kearney)

Thesis research: Entomology- population dynamics and bio-control of spiders in vineyards

As a former student at CSU Fresno, I consider myself very fortunate to have completed my M.S. in Plant Science under the direction of the professors in the Plant Science Department. The knowledge and experience I gained while attending the Plant Science M.S. degree program was extremely valuable in developing my career as a Research and Development Representative in the Agricultural Chemistry Industry. If there is something that separates this program from those at other universities, I would have to say that is the professors. Their ability to teach, listen, help, guide and be there for their students throughout the processes is exceptional. You will receive a first class education that will allow you to compete in the job market and prepared you to move quickly into a position of leadership and higher responsibility. Classes offered are well in tune with what is actually happening in the field and are offered often enough so that you can graduate in two to three years. I highly recommend anyone pursuing a graduate degree in Plant Science to consider the M.S. program at CSU Fresno.

Dave Jamison

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sharon Benes

Thesis Research: Nitrogen fertilizer regimes for lettuce production

Acquiring a Master’s degree has been one of the most rewarding accomplishments I have done. It has opened many doors professionally over the past five years. Upon getting the degree, I left Pacific Agronomics to work for a large pistachio processing plant in Coalinga. I was to become the general manager in one year’s time. I knew nothing of processing, though the fact I had a Master’s degree of any kind got me in the door. It was a 180 degree turn for me since it had nothing to do with soil science, but the opportunity was good. Unfortunately, the facility was sold six months after I was hired. Luckily, the ownership had a large scale farming operation in Kern County and had a need for an individual like myself. The operation went from zero acres to about 16,000 acres in five years and I was involved almost from the beginning. We grow almonds, cherries, citrus, DOV raisins, pistachios, blueberries and walnuts. As the in-house agronomist, I do land evaluations, irrigation design, salinity reclamation, fertility management, GPS/GIS applications and of course, irrigation scheduling. Having the Master’s degree allowed me to not only have the knowledge to excel, but most importantly, the confidence to make decisions and interact in a community that, quite frankly, relies mostly on what the neighbor is doing, or what the fertilizer salesman claims is the truth. I question everything. For me, it’s not knowing if something works, but how and why it works. I’ve come across many strange unscientific claims over the years. By going through the exercise of doing a thesis, I became aware of how many variables can influence a result. It’s amazing how things can become “truth” in the commercial farming industry…. just because one guy grew 500 lbs. more almonds than the next. The Plant Science Department has been a big influence on me even though I don’t keep in touch too often. I am always reviewing old notes or papers to get reality checks.

Namratha Reddy

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Dave Goorahoo

Thesis Title: Optimizing Nitrogen Rates for Organic Vegetable Production Subjected to AirJection® Irrigation.

Having come from India with a B.S. in Agricultural Sciences, I decided to further my education by obtaining a Master’s degree in Plant Science at California State University, Fresno. I was confident that this program would offer the curriculum needed to achieve a successful professional career in agriculture. My most significant achievement as a graduate student at Fresno State was strengthening my aptitude for successfully conducting independent research and improving my writing skills, thanks to the support of my thesis committee and the Plant Science graduate faculty. The faculty have always been very helpful and a source of inspiration to the students. The Plant Science department provides students with various opportunities to expand their professional horizons by interacting with university and industry researchers with similar discipline interests. I can certainly state that the professional exposure that I received at CSUF has definitely made me a confident Ph.D. candidate. Currently, I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Soil and Water Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. My research experience at Fresno State and letters of support from Plant Science faculty helped me to earn a full assistantship at UC Riverside.

Tarcisio S. Ruiz

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sharon Benes and Dr. James Stapleton (Univ. CA-Kearney)

Thesis research: soil solarization for the control of plant-parasitic nematodes

I was born and raised in Mexico in a small agricultural village in Michoacan. I learned from my father my first agricultural lessons as a child. The passion for agriculture continued through my life, and finally had the privilege to join the Master’s Degree Program in Plant Science at Fresno State University. This experience changed not only my life, but also the lives of each member of my family, and the people I interact with. Very often I found myself playing an unconscious role model for young people and family members. Education has changed my life and ultimately enabled me to enjoy life at the maximum level, doing what I love to do. I am currently working in California in the post-harvest fruit industry and traveling to other countries to provide technical service and expertise to our customers to protect and preserve fruit quality. The company that I am working for is the leader in new technology applied to the postharvest industry, and thanks to the academic preparation at Fresno State and its Master’s Degree program, I am part of this important mission.


Omar Tostado

Undergraduate: Crop Production Management

I was born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico and come from a family of seven children where I grew up on my father’s farm. I did not have a normal childhood because at the age of five years old, I started to do hard work whether it was milking cows, picking corn or even harvesting beans. I knew hard work at a young age.  It takes hard work and sacrifice to be what you want to be in life. When I was five through eight years old, my father traveled back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico working in the fields of the Salinas Valley. Few months prior to my ninth birthday, both mom and dad made a life changing decision for the best of the family. They decided that we all immigrate to the U.S. in 1993, at this point in 2013-2014, six out of seven siblings have received a four-year degree and two out of the seven have a Master's degree. I graduated from Fresno State in 2011 and now work as an Assistant Production Manager at Ocean Mist Farms which is one of the best quality vegetable growers in the world. I believe my greatest strength is “commitment”- when you start something, finish it. The biggest challenge in my life was “failing” which I thought at one point in my life I was. New opportunities arouse in the year 2008 when I received my residency. A year later in 2009, Fresno State opened its arms and I never looked back. Thanks to all the staff in the plant science department who prepared me with the right tools and gave me lots of in-depth knowledge. I believe all courses in the program are well-oriented for everyone who are Plant Science Majors. I would definitely recommend this program to any future agriculture enthusiast. I was very fortunate to have been part of a great friendly and family oriented program. I would like to personally acknowledge and thank Marlene Miyasaki and Dr. Dave Goorahoo for their guidance, dedication and commitment to our new upcoming farmers and alumni.