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About Us

Program Leader

 

Dr. Carol Miles has diverse international experiences both growing up and inCarol miles her early career where she has lived in subsistence agriculture communities in places such as Panama, Afghanistan, Cameroun, Malawi and Tanzania. Carol received her B.S. (1983) in Bio-Agricultural Science from Colorado State University, and her M.S. (1989) and Ph.D. (1993) in Vegetable Crops from the Department of Fruit and Vegetable Science at Cornell University. Carol’s goal has been to work with farmers to create sustainable production systems which provide a source of well-being to both the family and the community.

Program Technical Staff

 

Ed ScheenstraEd Scheenstra grew up in eastern Washington, living on farms in both the Yakima Valley and the Tri-Cities area.  After obtaining his B.S. in Environmental Science in 1999, he spent 4 years working with the Weed Science Dept. and USDA-ARS in Pullman, WA.  Ed has lived in the Mount Vernon area since 2004 and is excited to be back with WSU as a part of the Vegetable Horticulture team.

Program Office and Field Staff

 

Adam ElcanAdam Elcan’s work focuses on cider apple research with Aidan Kendall in addition to helping with other Vegetable Horticulture projects. Born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia and currently residing in Bellingham, Adam made the move from the east coast after graduating with a B.S. in Geology from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. During the winter months he can typically be found exploring the Cascades on skis and honing his skills as an amateur photographer. He also enjoys hiking, biking, and sea kayaking when there’s no snow in the mountains and has recently been experimenting with brewing fruit wines.

 

RadhikaRadhika Koppuravuri has a Masters degree in Computer Applications from India. She moved to Washington State in February 2021 from Colorado. Radhika is currently working as a web technician at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC.

 

Program Graduate Students

Current

Seth Brawner grew up on a small farm near Madison, Indiana where he developed a deep reverence for the natural world. During his time studying ecology, geology, and music at DePauw University, Seth worked on small, organic farms in Indiana, the Netherlands, and Norway — discovering a passion for regenerative horticulture. After graduating in 2020, he took over as DePauw’s Campus Farm Manager and Assistant Director of Sustainability. In this role, Seth implemented a small apple orchard and grew organic produce for the campus dining hall and surrounding community. Seth moved to Washington in 2021 and decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Horticulture in the Fall of 2022 to expand his horticultural knowledge and skill sets. Seth’s research will focus on the mechanized hedging and harvest of cider apples.

 

Alex CornwallAlex Cornwall is a lifelong native of Western Washington and being surrounded by such a lush environment, he developed a great love of plants and nature. He graduated from Washington State University in 2010 with a BS in Environmental Horticulture and joined the USDA-ARS Plant Introduction Unit in Pullman in 2011 as the Field Technician for the Horticultural Crops Program regenerating the highly diverse collection under the direction of the curator, Barbara Hellier. He has worked with the USDA for the last 10 years and will begin his studies in a PhD in horticulture in conjunction with his work in the fall of 2020 with major advisor Dr. Carol Miles. His project will be identifying Lactuca sp. with genetic barcoding and taxonomy and gene exploration of wild relatives of Lactuca sativa. Alex’s personal interests include running, botanical illustration and the fine art of cheese making.

Julie Figgins

Julie Figgins grew up in Ellensburg, Washington.  She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2000 with a B.S. in Biology.  In 2005 she graduated from Bastyr University with a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.  After 15 years of practice as a naturopathic physician, Dr. Figgins has refocused her professional interest toward the breeding of dry beans.  Her goal is to apply these concepts at her family’s bean and seed processing facility in Quincy, Washington.  With Dr. Carol Miles as her major advisor, she will conduct research with advanced breeding lines of popping beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), which are crosses of the Peruvian nuña beanThis will represent a small component of the WSU POPBEANS project:  Protein-rich Wholesome Popping Beans to Enhance Agricultural production, Nutrition and Sustainability.

 

Aidan Kendall

Aiden Kendall is from Holderness, New Hampshire and has been working on farms and orchards since 2009. He graduated from the University of Montana in 2017, where he discovered his enthusiasm for sustainable agriculture. Aidan recently spent a season at the Western Agricultural Research Center in Corvallis, MT helping with several ongoing research projects including apple bloom phenology modeling. He has decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Horticulture in the fall of 2020 to continue to perform resource conservation research and will be studying regulated deficit irrigation and the effects of mechanical hedging in cider apples.

 

Ann KowenstrotAnn Kowenstrot is originally from Wisconsin and has lived for the past 25 years in Alaska. Her undergraduate degree from Ripon College was in Anthropology and spent a number of years working as an archaeologist, eventually taking her to Alaska in 1997. She also holds a certificate in Ethnobotany from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She currently works as a 4-H assistant program administrator at the UAF Matanuska Experiment Farm and Extension Center in lovely Palmer, Alaska. The farm used to manage the rhubarb germplasm and still retains a collection plot of many varieties. Ann will undertake documenting the history of rhubarb research in Alaska and conduct observations of the current collection on site, for recommendations to growers for commercial production.

 

Purnima PuriPurnima Puri completed a BSc in Agriculture from The Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal, where she also worked as an agriculture intern under the Government of Nepal and Nepal Agriculture Research Council during her undergraduate program. For the last year she was the Outreach and Capacity Building Officer at DV Excellus Private Limited in Nepal, providing technical support to farmers. She started her MS in Vegetable Horticulture in summer of 2022, studying sweetpotato production in northwestern Washington. Her goal is to address the global hunger issue by conducting relevant research in horticultural crops in terms of productivity and sustainability.

 

Srijana ShresthaSrijana Shrestha was born and raised in the Lamjung district in Nepal. She completed her B.S. in Agriculture in 2018 from the Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal. She worked for one year as a project officer in Biodiversity and Resource Management for Sustainable Food Security in Mountain Community Project with the Nepal Group of Helping Hands, in the very remote Dailekh district of Nepal. She joined the Vegetable Horticulture program at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC in Spring 2020 and is an MS student. Her project will focus on developing educational materials for biodegradable plastic mulch.

Completed

Abigail Attavar. M.S. 2017–2019 (Committee chair). Grafting as a management practice for Verticillium wilt: Evaluating Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae rootstocks for resistance.

Kelly Atterberry. M.S. 2013–2015 (Committee chair). Nutrition education and school garden projects with K-12 students to promote consumption of dry beans. 

Travis Alexander. Ph.D. 2015-2018. Advancing Washington state cider apple production through a branch-to-bottle assessment of mechanized harvest and a comparison of regional juice quality.

Callie Bolton. M.S. 2009–2011 (Committee co-chair). Organic weed control in a newly established vineyard.

Fairuz Boujaila. Ph.D. 2016–2018 (Committee chair). Tomato production under high tunnels; application rates and timing of different types of fertilizer.

Jamie Cummings. M.S. 2006–2007 (Committee member). Evaluation of seed and drench treatments for management of damping-off and seedling blight pathogens of spinach for organic production.

Jeremy Cowan. Ph.D. 2010–2013 (Committee chair). The Use of Biodegradable Mulch for Tomato and Broccoli Production: Crop Yield and Quality, Mulch Deterioration, and Grower’s Perceptions.

Sahar Dabirian. M.S. 2015–2017 (Committee chair). Optimizing watermelon grafting to control Verticillium wilt in Washington.

Pinki Devi. Ph.D. 2017-2021. Optimizing watermelon grafting to enhance grafting efficiency and its impact on fruit maturity and quality.

Whitney Garton. M.S. 2015-2017 (Committee chair). Apple anthracnose canker control in cider apple orchards in western Washington.

Shuresh Ghimire. Ph.D. 2015–2018 (Committee chair). Biodegradable plastic mulch for pumpkin and sweet corn production.

Charlene Grahn. M.S. 2013–2015 (Committee chair). Direct market production of baby-leaf salad greens during spring and fall seasons in Western Washington. 

Holly Ingle. M.S. 2008–2010 (Committee member). The effect of environment and management on yield and NO3-N concentrations in organically managed leafy greens.

Sacha Johnson. M.S. 2010–2012 (Committee chair). Grafting Eggplant, Tomato, and Watermelon to Manage Verticillium Wilt Caused by Verticillium Dahliae.

Yao Mu. M.S. 2017-2019 (Committee chair). Identifying bulb fennel cultivars suitable for organic production in NW WA.

Vincent Mwale. M.S. Bunda College of Agriculture, Malawi, 2004-2006 (Committee member). Performance and stability of advanced bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) lines under two systems of on-farm evaluation in thee bean agro-ecological zones of Malawi.

Kristy Ott. M.S. 2006–2007 (Committee member). Impacts of winter growing conditions on yield and nitrate accumulation in organically produced leafy greens.

Robin Taylor. MSAG 2015-2016 (Committee chair). Quantification of food policy groups within the Puget Sound region.

Jennifer Wagner. M.S. 2004–2006 (Committee Chair). Heirloom-niche market dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) as an alternative crop for small-scale farmers.

Jesse Wimer. M.S. 2013–2015 (Committee chair). Grafting Watermelons to Manage Verticillium Wilt in Washington State.