New Clif Bar and King Arthur Baking Company Endowed Chair to lead WSU Breadlab

Kevin Murphy- grain field
Bringing more than two decades of experience breeding healthy, nutritious crops, Kevin Murphy directs the WSU Breadlab as the next Clif Bar and King Arthur Baking Company Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding and Innovation.

BURLINGTON, Wash. — The Washington State University Breadlab today announced the appointment of Kevin Murphy as the new Clif Bar and King Arthur Baking Company Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding and Innovation.

A WSU alumnus with deep experience breeding improved varieties of barley, spelt, quinoa, and buckwheat in Pullman, Wash., Murphy steps into the Breadlab director’s role previously held by WSU Professor Stephen Jones.

“Organic agriculture, seed and food systems, and plant breeding are my lifelong pursuits,” said Murphy, who took on the role July 1, 2024.

The Clif Bar and King Arthur Baking Company Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding and Innovation was established in 2018 through gifts from both companies, as well as partner organizations and individual donors. The $1.5 million endowment supports Pacific Northwest breeding of new, organic grain varieties intended for the public good, in perpetuity.

“Clif Bar is committed to building a sustainable food system, and it is through cutting-edge agricultural research and programs like the WSU Breadlab that we can support a brighter future for our farmers and farming communities,” said Philippa Lockwood, sustainable agriculture program manager at Clif Bar. “We are thrilled to welcome Kevin Murphy to this very important role, and we congratulate Stephen Jones for his leadership and significant accomplishments during his long tenure.”

King Arthur Baking Company CEO Karen Colberg said that she is grateful for Jones’ leadership at the Breadlab and excited to welcome Kevin Murphy as the new director.

“At King Arthur Baking Company, we know that innovative grain breeding and growing practices are vital for the health of our soil and planet,” she said.

Founded by Jones in 2011, the WSU Breadlab breeds, tests, and integrates new wheat, barley, and rye varieties into the Pacific Northwest and global food systems. Breadlab researchers work with farmers, chefs, bakers, and distillers to develop and use hardy and nutritionally dense crops that enrich the soil, improve local grain economies, and provide more flavorful and valuable, flour, breads, craft beers, whiskey, and other grain-based products.

King Arthur Baking Company recently introduced a new product, Climate Blend flour, that features three wheat varieties developed at the Breadlab.

“Investing in this research supports future farmers and helps meet the growing demand for sustainable and resilient food systems,” Colberg said.

Named the original endowed chair in 2018, Jones will continue to work in research, germplasm commercialization, and policy at the Burlington, Washington lab.

“Dr. Jones is recognized internationally for leading a groundbreaking, equitable approach to breeding nutritious, high-yielding grains,” said Murphy. “I am inspired by the existing pipeline of genetic material in wheat, barley, and perennial grains at the Breadlab and recognize the immense value and potential of this germplasm.”

Stephen Jones- Bread Lab
The founder and original endowed chair at the Breadlab, Stephen Jones is internationally recognized for his work breeding and sharing breeding nutritious, high-yielding grains.

To Jones, Murphy is just the person to grow the lab in the spirit that it was created.

“It will be fun to see where Kevin takes things, and the staff in place are excited for his leadership as well,” he said.

For Murphy, taking the helm of the Breadlab is a natural move. With a 15-year history of collaboration with farmers and organizations in western Washington, he joined Jones’ wheat breeding team as a doctoral student and helped establish WSU’s organic wheat breeding program. Joining the WSU faculty in 2009, Murphy began breeding spelt, buckwheat, and quinoa before moving to organic quinoa and later, barley, as well as work with organic hops.

Launching WSU’s Sustainable Seed Systems Lab in 2016, he currently leads a $3.3 million research project breeding improved organic buckwheat. Murphy is also lead investigator on Soil to Society, a $10 million, a WSU-led, USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-funded effort to create more nutritious, affordable, and accessible whole grain-based foods.

In this new role, Murphy’s ambition is to create a new WSU center spanning food and health that brings together the Bread Lab and Sustainable Seed Systems Lab with partners across and outside of WSU.

“A regional hub will coalesce efforts in Washington and beyond to improve the health, nutrition, accessibility, and affordability of our food system,” he said.

Murphy plans to continue events like the Grain Gathering, Breadlab Bakery Pop-ups, King Arthur Baking School classes, and the Buckwheat Festival, slated for August 2024 at Chimacum, Washington. He also seeks to partner with regional schools and continue the work of the Breadlab and Sustainable Seed System Lab with a bilingual incubator farm and educational hub supporting underserved farmers.

“The Breadlab represents a unique strength at WSU,” Murphy said. “It’s my honor to work with the Bread Lab team, Clif Bar, King Arthur Baking Company, the Port of Skagit, and our many regional partners to continue this mission.”


For more than 30 years, CLIF BAR has crafted delicious and organic food under its CLIF BAR, Zbar, and LUNA brands. In 2022, CLIF became part of the Mondelēz International, Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ) portfolio of brands empowering people to snack right in over 150 countries around the world. For more information, go to, or visit FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

About King Arthur Baking Company

King Arthur Baking Company has been sharing the joy of baking since 1790. A benefit corporation and 100% employee-owned, King Arthur Baking provides the highest quality ingredients for baked goods while inspiring connections and community through baking. Visit for recipes, products, and more, and follow King Arthur Baking Company on Facebook and Instagram.

About the WSU Breadlab

The Breadlab represents deep connections—connections with the land, with communities, with partners, and with the food that nourishes us. A program of Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, the Breadlab brings the science of breeding together with the science of bread making to produce tasty, healthy, nutritious food. Learn more at

• Contact: Kevin Murphy, Professor and Director, WSU Breadlab; Clif Bar and King Arthur Flour Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding and Innovation; (509) 335-9692,