In spite of the fine centennial histories by George Frykman, Bill Stimson, and Dick Fry, as well as earlier histories, Washington State University has no comprehensive history of research and scholarship, no history of ideas.

This is a collective effort to generate an informal history of big ideas, accomplishments, discoveries, and so forth. The ideas here are a just a sampling. The list continues here on the Washington State University website.

And all of it started with ideals to match the largeness of the ideas that would follow. President Enoch Bryan obviously believed deep in his heart that Washington State College was the epitome of the land grant mission. “Hitherto college education had ministered to the professional classes,” Bryan told a meeting of the Washington dairy association; “henceforth it was to minister to the industrial classes.” By industrial, he did not mean timeclock factory laborers, but the industrious in contrast to the professionals. Farmers, carpenters, business people. All, he believed, deserve the best education available.

A huge caveat is in order here. In offering this list, Washington State University claims no scientific method for its development. They consulted no citation indexes or focus groups or lists of prizes or grants. They simply found them all very interesting, integral parts of WSU’s rich intellectual history. They also believe that all of them have added to their understanding of us and our universe or have resulted in making the world a better place.

On the other hand, the absence here of an idea, an accomplishment, or a person does not indicate they are not great. This list is merely a start–read in more detail on these 15 big ideas, here.

1. Washington State College
2. Application of Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance to Agrocultural Breeding
3. Insect Resistance to Pesticides
4. Academic Study of Soviet-American Relations
5. Cougar Gold Cheese
6. High-Yielding Dwarf Wheat Varieties
7. Marmes Man
8. Integrated Mite Management
9. Washington Wines
10. Master Gardeners
11. Killer Tomatoes and Talking Plants
12. Phone Surveys and Modern Survey Methods
13. Snooze It or Lose It
14. Unintended Results of Killing Older Male Predators
15. PIM 1

Reprinted from Washington State Magazine, courtesy of Washington State University. To read the full story and other articles from the magazine, please visit