Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences

Paul McDaniel, Dept. Head (Ag. Sci. Bldg. Room 242, 875 Perimeter Drive MS 2339, Moscow, ID 83844-2339; phone (208) 885-7012; Entomology Division: Division Chair, Edward J. Bechinski. James D. Barbour, Edward J. Bechinski, Nilsa A. Bosque-Perez, Steve Cook, Sanford D. Eigenbrode, Arash Rashed, Mark Schwarzlaender, and Erik Wenninger. Plant Science Division: Division Chairs, Michael Thornton (south) and Robert R. Tripepi (north). Jack Brown, Allan Caplan, Jianli Chen, Louise-Marie Dandurand, Esmaeil Fallahi, Saad L. Hafez, Zonglie Hong, Pamela J.S. Hutchinson, Alexander Karasev, Joseph C. Kuhl, Xi Liang, Stephen L. Love, Juliet Marshall, Don W. Morishita, Phillip Nolte, Nora L. Olsen, Timothy S. Prather, Christopher W. Rogers, Bahman Shafii, Glenn E. Shewmaker, Brenda Schroeder, Kurtis Schroeder, Shree P. Singh, Jeffrey C. Stark, Donald C. Thill, Michael Thornton, Robert R. Tripepi, Olga Walsh, Phillip S. Wharton, and Fangming Xiao. Soil and Land Resources Division: Division Chair, Jodi L. Johnson-Maynard. Leslie Baker, John Hammel, Robert Heinse, Jodi L. Johnson-Maynard, Guy R. Knudsen, Robert L. Mahler, Paul A. McDaniel, Amber Moore, Matthew J. Morra, and Daniel G. Strawn.

The Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences is within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. We offer a B.S. degree in Agricultural and Life Sciences with our Sustainable Crop and Landscape Systems major. We offer M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Entomology, Plant Science, and Soil and Land Resources.

We offer degree programs that focus on the earth’s biological and physical resources. This allows students to pursue graduate education or careers in agriculture, horticulture, environmental science, or an array of biological sciences. Students in agriculture and horticulture develop skills needed for professional careers in crop production, plant maintenance, pest control, biotechnology, and biological control of insects, weeds and diseases. Students in soil and land resources are prepared for careers relevant to environmental quality and the protection, restoration and sustainable use of soil and water resources. Specialization in entomology or more basic areas of plant sciences, e.g. molecular biology, prepares students for continuing education or employment in many fields of biology.

Undergraduate Degree Program:

The multidisciplinary Sustainable Crop and Landscape Systems major offers students broad-based preparation in agricultural, horticultural, biological and ecological sciences. There are five areas of emphasis:

The insects and society emphasis area addresses basic and applied aspects of the study of insects and how they influence human activities. The program provides a broad entomological education with opportunities to specialize in such areas as agricultural and aquatic entomology, biological control, host plant resistance, insect ecology, insect physiology and insect-plant relations. The curriculum is designed for students pursuing professional careers in the basic and applied fields of entomology, or for those interested in continuing their education at the graduate level.

Under the sustainable cropping systems emphasis area, students may study crop management, plant protection and fundamental aspects of plant sciences. Many courses emphasize environmental concerns, ecological relationships and sustainability of agricultural systems. Students interested in crop management gain the necessary background to be successful in a wide range of crop-related careers in agriculture. They may tailor their academic program in the basic and applied aspects of crop science to suit their individual interests and career goals. Our crop and weed science offerings will prepare students for graduate education or professional careers in cropping systems management, plant protection, agricultural consulting, plant biotechnology, plant breeding and genetics, seed production and certification and weed science.

The environmental horticulture emphasis area is designed to provide students with a background in production of various horticultural crops and/or urban landscape management. Students may select courses to help them specialize in a particular career path. An internship is also available, which will provide insight into professional horticulture careers. Students may learn about many facets of horticulture, including horticultural crop production (floral crops, woody landscape plants, fruits or vegetables), by enrolling in courses on production and management of horticultural crops that are economically significant to Idaho and the nation. Students enrolled in this emphasis area may prepare for careers in management and operation of commercial greenhouses, nurseries, orchards, vineyards and vegetable farms. Students have the opportunity to focus on managing and maintaining the various components of urban landscapes including trees, shrubs, herbaceous plantings and turf grass, or organic farming techniques. Courses in plant science, soils, biology and entomology further enhance the knowledge needed for a professional career in horticulture. This emphasis area is flexible enough to enable students to pursue science-oriented careers or advanced degree studies.

The undergraduate soil and land use emphasis area is offered for students who are interested in working as a soil scientist for businesses, industry, or government agencies. Graduates may work as environmental or agricultural consultants. Many businesses and industries employ graduates with training in soil science to work in various fields related to agriculture; soil fertility, precision farming, crop and forage production, and use and management of agri-chemicals. Consultants with soil science training work on projects related to environmental quality and restoration. Government agencies use soil scientists to inventory and develop conservation plans designed to identify and protect soil resources and maintain environmental quality on agricultural, range, and forest lands.

The plant biotechnology emphasis area will interest students who want to work with plants using the latest molecular genetic techniques to address the food and energy needs of the United States and the world in the 21st century. Students will learn how to understand, manipulate and use the genetic information of plants at the molecular level to create and select crop plants with improved traits (e.g. yield; nutritional value; insect, disease or temperature tolerance) to address the challenges brought on by increasing world population, decreasing availability of water for irrigation, and temperature changes brought on by global warming. In addition, students will learn how to modify plant genes to improve crop plant potential for use in biofuel production. Hands-on experience is possible by conducting undergraduate research in our plant biotechnology laboratories. The plant biotechnology emphasis will prepare students for graduate education or professional careers in academia or industry in such areas as genomics, genetic engineering, marker-assisted plant breeding, plant genetics, molecular biology, tissue culture and molecular virology.

Our degree offerings are designed to prepare students for graduate school and a variety of rewarding career opportunities. All of our programs are based on curricula designed to prepare students for present and future employment. We offer students the opportunity to work closely with faculty in classroom and field situations. Our faculty members care about our students' individual needs and interests, and offer additional specialization through directed study, special topics, seminars and other courses as needed. An internship program is available to provide students with practical job experience and to open doors for career opportunities. Additionally, we coordinate closely with the Departments of Entomology, Crop and Soil Sciences, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, and Plant Pathology at Washington State University (eight miles away) to enhance our offerings.

We offer many opportunities to conduct advanced, in-depth studies with our important scientific collections and cutting-edge facilities. The William F. Barr Entomology Museum contains 1 million specimens. The Lambert-Erickson Weed Herbarium houses one of the nation's outstanding collections with all life stages of weeds represented. The Maynard A. Fosberg Monolith collection is one of the largest in the world with 232 monoliths. We have a state-of-the-art biotechnology facility to accommodate faculty, staff and students. We also offer specially-equipped laboratories for histology, anatomy, and physiology, as well as greenhouse laboratory units with controlled temperature and light-programmed rooms and growth chambers. The University has 1,145 acres located close to campus for field crops, orchards and livestock. Excellent field and laboratory facilities are also available at our research and extension centers at Aberdeen, Parma and Twin Falls.

We welcome questions regarding our programs. Prospective students may contact us by email at, or by telephone at 208/885-6274.


See the course description section for courses in Entomology (ENT), Plant Science (PLSC), and Soils (SOIL).