Plant scientist Doreen Main reprises role as WSU Horticulture interim chair

Head shot of Dorrie Main
Dorrie Main, Professor of Bioinformatics, is the interim chair of the WSU Department of Horticulture.

Professor and scientist Doreen Main will again lead Washington State University’s Department of Horticulture, serving as interim chair effective July 16, 2021.

Active across the state, WSU’s horticulture team performs research, teaching, and outreach work that improves and protects Northwest urban landscapes, orchards, and agriculture, including important crops such as tree fruit, grapes, wine, and specialty crops.

Previously serving as interim chair from 2019-2020, Main replaces prior interim chair and professor Amit Dhingra, who leaves to head the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University. Dhingra has chaired the department since June 2020.

“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to once again lead our department’s highly engaged and productive faculty, staff, and students,” Main said. “Together, we will continue to build on the achievements of the outgoing interim chair, Dr. Dhingra, who led our department so inspirationally through the worst of the COVID crisis. I wish him every success in his new position at Texas A&M.

“In the coming year, we’ll focus on recruiting a world-class permanent chair for this state-critical and globally impactful department, and continue to strengthen our graduate program, undergraduate teaching, and donor partnerships,” she added.

“I thank Dr. Main for her willingness to once again lead this important department,” said Rich Koenig, interim dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “She is an experienced leader, and is well-versed in supporting faculty, staff, and students in their mission on behalf of agriculture, the environment, and society.

“I also thank Dr. Dhingra for his service as chair and 15 years of work in plant genomics and biotechnology on behalf of CAHNRS, and wish him well in his next chapter,” Koenig added.

Born and raised in Scotland, Main is a professor of bioinformatics, the science of analyzing and sharing complex biological data. She has been a member of the department since 2005.

Main holds a doctorate in bioscience and biotechnology from the University of Strathclyde and is former director of bioinformatics at Clemson University Genomics Institute in South Carolina.

Her discoveries draw on genomics, genetics, and ‘Big Data’—extremely large data sets analyzed by computers—to develop tools and knowledge affecting hundreds of crops, from forest trees to legumes, cotton and the vast rose family, encompassing apples, almonds, cherries, pears, raspberries and strawberries.

WSU’s horticultural department includes more than 70 faculty and staff and more than 250 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students. Horticultural scientists at WSU bred the recently released Cosmic Crisp(R) apple, found the reference genome for peas, and annually generate more than $7 million in research awards.

Learn more about horticultural studies at WSU here.