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Department of Plant Science

Elizabeth Mosqueda working with high school leadership program.


Joshua Reger

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Jacob Wenger (Fresno State) & Dr. Houston Wilson (UC Riverside, UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center)

Thesis research:  Effects of Strain, Irradiation, and Shipping on the Comparative Fitness of Navel Orangeworm Amyelois transitella and Implications for the Use of Sterile Insect Technique in California Tree Nut Crops

Earning my M.S. degree from Fresno State’s Plant Science Department was a pivotal moment and has set me on a path to achieve more with my life. I obtained my B.S. degree from a large university in Indiana and never really felt connected to the faculty due to the large size of the program. During my time at Fresno State I was able to work closely with my advisor, other faculty, and classmates. This helped me feel more welcomed and involved in the department which was important for pursuing my degree. In my experience, Fresno State’s relationship with California’s agricultural communities and extension networks is one of the most valuable aspects of the program. I was able to collaborate with multiple research entities like the University of California, Riverside at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and the USDA-ARS. I am also grateful for becoming more knowledgeable about plant science in my coursework even though my thesis was entomology-focused. I believe multidisciplinary research is important for discovering more answers in what we know  to be a deeply connected world. I will continue to encourage prospective students to consider Fresno State as an undergraduate and graduate school.

I completed my M.S. degree and am currently working in my advisor’s lab studying how navel orangeworm utilizes energy stores for flight. This work is building off of my M.S. thesis research. I plan to attend the University of California, Riverside in the fall of 2021 to pursue my Ph.D. in entomology with Dr. Wilson. Ultimately, I plan to work as an extension specialist at a university or for the USDA.

Amninder Singh

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sharon Benes

Thesis research:  Use of EM-38 Soil Surveys in Forage Fields at a Saline Drainage Water Reuse Site to Calibrate a Hydro-Salinity Model for Decision Support.  

My experience at Fresno State in the Department of Plant Science has been invaluable. The opportunities to be involved in cutting-edge research that I received are more than I could have imagined, and knowledge gained far transcends the classroom. The coursework is rigorous and intellectually stimulating. I am grateful that I could be part of the Plant Science graduate program, which has greatly helped in both my professional and personal development.

The extremely qualified faculty genuinely want to see you succeed and are always willing to help students in their areas of interest. The close interaction with my outstanding thesis committee and experience gained here has helped me evolve as an individual researcher. After graduating with my Master’s, I have joined the Environmental Science doctoral program at the University of California, Riverside, which could not have been possible if it wasn’t for the skills and knowledge I acquired at the Plant Science department of Fresno State.

Elizabeth Mosqueda

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Anil Shrestha

Thesis research:  A Comparison of Automated Thinners with Manual Thinning of Lettuce in the Salinas Valley: Weed Control and Efficacy

As an alumnus of the Plant Science Department at California State University, Fresno, I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to receive my M.S. degree from such a prestigious program. At Fresno State, I not only had the opportunity to conduct state of the art research in the sector of agriculture I am most passionate about, but was also able to evolve into the scientist I am today with the mental, financial, and scholarly support of the amazing faculty and staff within the Plant Science Department.

One of the greatest strengths the Plant Science Department at Fresno State contains is instilling inspiration and drive within each and every one of their students to give back not only to the agriculture industry, but to the community as well. As I pursued my M.S. degree at Fresno State, I was also given the opportunity to be a part of various community service, educational, and professional events which not only benefited those who sought my expertise , but also made me into a more well-rounded, gregarious, and passionate  member of the community.

I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Agronomy at the University of Wyoming, a feat I never would have taken on if not for the superb program I received my M.S. degree from. My hope is to return one day to California and help both those within the agriculture industry as well as the community by becoming a Farm Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. It is because of my degrees I am an educated woman, but it is because of the person Fresno State made me into, that I know I will be able to achieve anything I set my mind to and more!

Nicholas E. Clark

Thesis Advisors: Dr. John T. Bushoven, Dr. Jianchi “J. C.” Chen (USDA-ARS), Dr. Jorge González, and Dr. Sharon Benes

Thesis Research: In planta culture of a fastidious, bacterial plant pathogen

My experience as a student and growing professional in the Fresno State Plant Science Department was top-notch. I was always challenged intellectually, philosophically, and culturally. The diversity of disciplines brought to the classroom by the faculty, staff, and students was inspiring and made learning an exciting social project. The camaraderie and fraternity among my cohort was unmatched, and it set the bar for cooperative and collaborative work in my career. My personal motivation to reach my degree objectives was met with financial, intellectual, and moral support to seize opportunity after opportunity to expand my knowledge. I currently work as an area agronomic cropping systems/nutrient management advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, serving Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties.  Every day, I feel confident that I can rely on what I’ve learned in my graduate studies at Fresno State to succeed and excel in my tasks.

Adam Novicki

Thesis Advisors: Dr. Andrew Lawson, Dr. John T. Bushoven, Dr. Anil Shrestha, and Dr. Jorge González

Thesis Research: Evaluation of oil seed cover crops as a pre-bloom alternate food source for pollinator honeybees (Apis mellifera) in the San Joaquin Valley

As an “older” returning student with a B.A., not a B.S., I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be accepted to Fresno State’s graduate program in plant science. Dr. Bushoven took a keen interest in my experiences in the world of fine dining in Los Angeles and how they reflected a deep understanding of the “table” side of the “farm to table” movement. He encouraged me to pursue a thesis on honeybees in relation to almonds as I was already a backyard beekeeper.

I was challenged to truly explore the world of modern agriculture and its challenges, particularly in the area of mono-cropping systems (almonds) with a degree of acceptance of differing points of view in order to solve collective problems.

Within 6 months of graduating, and after being invited by the Almond Board to present my research poster, I landed a job as a commercial beekeeper overseeing 3500 hives in California and North Dakota.  In 2018 I moved on to UC Riverside as a Staff Research Associate where I currently manage the research apiary for UCR’s new pollinator research lab.

Matt Beene

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Charles Krauter

Thesis research: Ammonia emissions from nitrogen fertilizer applications

The academic and practical experience I received at Fresno State while earning a Master’s Degree in Plant Science made me a well-rounded individual, as 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 helped 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 Department of Plant Science at CSU Fresno 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 dept’s faculty. I strongly believe that this experience has 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 into 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 process is exceptional. You will receive a first class education that will allow you to compete in the job market and prepare 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

Thesis 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 I 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.