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Staff Biographies: Wheat Health, Genetics and Quality Research

Posted by | February 20, 2017

David Weller

David Weller, Research Leader, Wheat Health, Genetics and Quality Research Unit

Dr. David Weller is Research Leader of the USDA-ARS Wheat Health, Genetics and Quality Research Unit at Pullman, and adjunct professor of plant pathology at Washington State University.

Weller received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology from Michigan State University. His research focuses on the control of soilborne pathogens, the rhizosphere microbiome and metabolome, and disease-suppressive soils. In 2003-05 and 2013, he was the Willie Commelin Scholten (WCS) Endowed Professor of Phytopathology and OECD Fellow at Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

Dr. Weller is a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a recipient of the APS Ruth Allen Award for outstanding research. He has published over 170 journal articles and reviews and regularly lectures at universities worldwide.

Weller founded and directs the nationally-recognized Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outreach program “Pumping-Up the Math and Science Pipeline,” which provides novel educational opportunities in science and mathematics to underserved students in rural and Native American communities in the Pacific Northwest. For these activities, Dr. Weller received the Washington State University 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award and the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award in 2011.

Robert Bonsall, Biochemist, Research Administrator and Senior Scientist, WSU Department of Plant Pathology/USDA-ARS
As a biochemist, senior research scientist and director of the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Bio-Analytical Laboratory, Research and Developmental Chemistries at Washington State University, Bonsall was responsible for the initial design of the laboratory and instrumentation.

Robert Bonsall examines spectra of metabolites that help protect wheat.
Robert Bonsall examines spectra of metabolites that help protect wheat.

His biochemistry expertise emphasizes small molecule metabolomics and instrumentation. Bonsall conducts hands-on research to develop chemical isolation protocols and instrumental analysis used by researchers worldwide, including:

• Photodiode array (PDA) High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) & PDA Ultra Pressure Liquid Chromatography (UPLC) for isolation, identification, chemical modification and spectral characterization of plant signal molecules and bacterial antibiotics, and;

• HPLC & UPLC mass spectral analysis (Thermabeam electron impact, Quadrupole/Orthoganol Time of Flight and Synapt Tri-Wave MS) to elucidate the structure of antibiotics and small molecule intermediates involved in biocontrol and bio-markers of wheat and barley health.

These antibiotics are produced in field soils and are responsible for the biocontrol of root diseases of wheat, barley and biofuel crops. The rhizosphere metabolome can be defined and further understood by identifying these biomarkers. They are also used for the biocontrol of root diseases of agricultural crops.

Based on his research achievements at WSU, Bonsall was honored with the President’s Employee Excellence Award in 1999.