PUYALLUP, Wash. – Washington State University entomologist and eco-toxicologist John Stark has been named the new director of the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center.
Stark succeeds Jon Newkirk who has been director of the center for the past four years. Newkirk recently resigned as director at the historic Puyallup facility but will continue his affiliation with WSU as director of the WSU Extension Western Center for Risk Management Education in Spokane.
WSU Dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences Dan Bernardo praised Newkirk for helping to set a new course for the 21st century at the facility that was established in 1894.
“Under Jon’s leadership, the center has a redefined mission focusing on issues related to sustainability and the rural/urban interface,” Bernardo said.
Stark runs the Salmon Toxicology Research Laboratory at the Puyallup center, where he is researching the effects of pesticides and adjuvants in the water on salmon behavior. Last year he was named to the nine-member Science Advisory Panel of the state’s Puget Sound Partnership, the agency responsible for Puget Sound restoration.
WSU Associate Vice President and Dean of Extension Linda Kirk Fox said that Stark is an excellent choice to continue the new mission and direction of the center.
“John has been a member of the faculty and family at the Puyallup Center for a number of years so he knows very well the outreach mission and the people we serve,” Fox said. “He’ll be able to hit the ground running and continue the course set by Jon Newkirk’s leadership.”
“John is a pioneering scientist not only with his salmon research but in the fields of entomology and demographic modeling as well,” added Ralph Cavalieri, director of the WSU Agricultural Research Center. “He fully understands the importance of the center’s multifaceted research mission as well as its role in extension and in serving the community.”
Stark said that he will continue his research on the effects of toxins and other environmental factors on threatened and endangered species while assuming his new administrative duties.
“I’m pleased that the administration is highly supportive of my continued role in research while extending their confidence in me to assume leadership of the center,” Stark said. “I’m excited about taking on my new responsibilities. I want the center to be a gem in this community.”
Stark earned his Ph.D. in entomology/pesticide toxicology at the University of Hawaii. He also holds a Master of Science degree in entomology from Louisiana State University and undergraduate degrees in forest biology.