New Director for Northwestern Washington R&E Center
Stephen S. Jones, whose wheat breeding program at WSU has been recognized nationally and internationally, is the new director of WSU’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center at Mount Vernon.
“Steve is a veteran researcher with a proven track record and an innate curiosity in agriculture that will serve northwestern Washington farmers well,” said Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “He also is one of the most effective and committed teachers at WSU, which will be key as we look to expand the way we engage students from around the state. I’m excited about the possibilities that this appointment represents for research, teaching and extension.”
Jones will take his projects in low-input wheat, perennial wheat, organic wheat and nitrogen use efficiency with him to Mount Vernon. “Small grains are a very important rotation crop for farmers growing tulips, vegetables and berries, so I am eager to expand my research into areas relevant to this part of Washington,” he said.
Jones said it was the diversity and heritage of agriculture in the Skagit Valley region that attracted him to the NWREC position.
“The agricultural diversity of this area is fascinating to me,” Jones said. “Growers are facing the pressures of urbanization, yet there is a rich history of agriculture in the Skagit Valley and surrounding areas. There are also great faculty and staff at the center. They have a wonderful team in place, and I want to be a part of it.”
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International Collaboration Leads to Important Plant Virus Discovery
Tri Asmira Damayanti, a lecturer and researcher at Bogor Agricultural University in Indonesia, came to Washington State University’s Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center three months ago to learn the latest techniques in detection of plant viruses.
What she may not have counted on discovering was a previously unknown plant virus in sample extracts of tomatoes and peppers she brought from Indonesia. “This is maybe the first indication that there is a tospovirus in Indonesia,” she said.
Tospoviruses, which derive their name from the first identified member of the genus, tomato spotted wilt virus, cause significant crop losses in vegetables around the world.
Damayanti utilized a combination of polymerase chain reaction technology and molecular biology techniques to confirm the presence of the virus.
“I have learned many detection techniques during my training here,” Damayanti said. “We need diagnostic methods that are suitable for our conditions in Indonesia, especially for doing diagnosis of plant viruses.”
Damayanti is just the latest international scientist to train in Naidu Rayapati’s lab under the auspices of a program sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development through the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program.
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