PULLMAN, Wash. – Karen Flint Ward, the newest member of Washington State University’s Department of Plant Pathology, will help make the department’s goal of a Pullman-based plant disease diagnostic lab staffed by a diagnostician and a data base of plant disease occurrences in Washington state a reality.
“Hiring a plant disease diagnostician with Karen’s background and expertise is a big step forward in our efforts to help keep Washington’s agricultural enterprise safe and secure,” said Dan Bernardo, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “It bolsters our ability to serve our stakeholders throughout the state with current, relevant information.”
Ward is the new coordinator of the WSU Plant and Pest Diagnostic eNetwork and plant disease diagnostician. She will be responsible for diagnosing plant health problems, collecting and reporting data on occurrences of plant diseases in Washington, especially those deemed to pose a threat to agricultural security in the state.
“Expanding the diagnostic capabilities to deal with new and existing disease threats and to better serve our stakeholders has been one of the strategic priorities of the department,” said Hanu Pappu, chair of the department of plant pathology. “This was made possible thanks to the strategic planning and creative marshalling of external grants and other financial resources by Tim Murray, professor of plant pathology and the Washington State representative to the Western Plant Diagnostic Network.”
Ward also will coordinate training sessions for “first detectors,” the people most likely to encounter plant diseases in agricultural and natural settings. She will develop education materials, organize workshops and make presentations to support and advance plant disease detection capabilities in the state. She also serves as the liaison between WSU diagnostic laboratories, the eNetwork, government agencies and the Western Plant Diagnostic Network.
Formerly a plant disease diagnostician at Utah State University, Ward holds a master’s degree in plant pathology from University of California Davis and a bachelor’s degree in plant protection and pest management from the University of Idaho.