Devastating erosion is being quelled along fragile coastlines in Philippines, while opium poppy growers in Afghanistan and Iraq are learning to raise safe and abundant alternative crops.

At the same time, in the country of Georgia, faculty at two institutes of higher learning are reviewing advanced teaching methods, and at Washington State University in Pullman, three scientists from Yemen are working side by side with WSU researchers to answer critical questions about insects, plant breeding, and irrigation.

And that’s only some of the work Chris Pannkuk is overseeing this year as director of International Programs/Research and Development at WSU. Other projects focus on improving the livelihoods of targeted rural communities in Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Having worked more than two decades in agricultural extension and international research and development, Dr. Pannkuk remains passionate about leading interdisciplinary teams in improving education, resource management, economic development, and research across the globe. A current focus on developing relationships with farmers and empowering local communities has become a model of success in global development.

Integrated strategies include introducing revolving funds and micro-credit loans that enable farmers to take ownership of projects without perceiving them as “hand outs.”

By empowering communities help themselves, Dr. Pannkuk and his colleagues have seen opportunities expand for more than 400,000 people in more than 2,500 villages in at least 13 countries.

The inspiration for Dr. Pannkuk’s work began in 1982 when he was a village-based Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone. He recognized the great impact that simple knowledge transfer could have on numerous lives. With this inspiration, and further support from WSU, he continues to work primarily with small farmers and engages others to do likewise.


Featuring: Chris Pannkuk, Ph.D.

Christopher Pannkuk is director of International Programs/Research and Development at WSU. He leads projects in several countries, including a worldwide project on sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. During his more than 20-year career, Dr. Pannkuk has designed and implemented projects to alleviate water use and soil degradation in the United States and abroad. He completed assignments for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Dr. Pannkuk has published many peer-reviewed articles, and has taught World Agricultural Systems at WSU. He lived in and learned the languages in Sierra Leone and Armenia, and conducted agricultural development in Afghanistan, Syria, Romania, Jordan, Malawi, Yemen, Tanzania, and Egypt.