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Speaker Biographies

Wheat Academy logo with WSU cougar.

Meet the Speakers

Rachel Bomberger, WSU Plant Diagnostician and Diagnostics Coordinator
Rachel Bomberger received a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from University of California, Santa Cruz. While at UCSC Rachel worked on the speciation of California Bull Clover (Trifolium fucatum complex). Rachel received her M.S. in Botany and Plant Pathology from Oregon State University working with Dr. Cynthia M. Ocamb on vascular wilt pathogens of seed radish. After graduating, Rachel worked as the diagnostician for the Nevada Department of Agriculture. In December 2015 Rachel became the plant diagnostician for Washington State University’s Plant Pest Diagnostic Clinic in Pullman. At the Plant Pest Diagnostic Clinic Rachel provides diagnosis on all manners of plant health problems including the detection of: fungi, viruses, bacteria, and nematodes caused diseases; arthropod pests; and abiotic disorders such as physiological issues, nutrient deficiency, and chemical damage.

Dr. Ian Burke, WSU Weed Scientist
Ian Burke is a professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at WSU. Prior to accepting his position at WSU, Ian served as a postdoctoral research associate and plant physiologist at the USDA-ARS Southern Weed Science Research Unit in Stoneville, Mississippi and as a graduate research associate in the Department of Crop Science at North Carolina State University. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in weed science from North Carolina State University.

Dr. Weidong Chen, USDA-ARS, Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit
Weidong Chen received his Ph.D. in plant pathology from the Ohio State University.  He has been a Research Plant Pathologist with USDA ARS in Pullman, WA since 2002.  He has been working on management of diseases of grain legumes (pea, chickpea, and lentil).   His research has been focused on Ascochyta blight, powdery mildew, Fusarium wilt and Sclerotinia white mold, and recently on damping-off caused by metalaxyl-resistant Pythium.

David Crowder, WSU Entomologist
Dave Crowder is an Associate Professor in the Department of Entomology at WSU. He received his BS and MS in Natural Resources/Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois, and his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Arizona. His lab conducts research on insect ecology and pest management in agricultural systems, including studies of pests in wheat, legumes, canola, and quinoa in the dryland region of Washington. In wheat cropping systems he was worked extensively with wireworms and aphid pests.

Jim Durfey, WSU Senior Instructor
Following graduation, Jim farmed for 13 years in the Yakima Valley where he raised a variety of irrigated crops including sugar beets, wheat, grain and silage corn, mint, dry edible beans, alfalfa, concord grapes, and apples. After returning to WSU and acquiring an additional education (Masters), he assumed the responsibility of the Agricultural Technology and Management degree program where he currently teaches eight different courses and advises 115 students. He introduced precision ag to WSU in 1995 and co-chaired the Western Precision Ag conferences in 1998, 1999 and 2001. He is employed in the summer by Hinrichs Trading Company, where he supervises six interns evaluating garbanzo beans or chickpeas across five states.

Doug Engle, USDA-ARS Food Technologist
After graduate school, Doug started work as a wheat milling technician with the USDA-ARS at the Western Wheat Quality Laboratory. Over the last 30 years of employment at the WWQL, he has obtained experience in analytical flour testing and experimental baking. Currently, Doug is a Food Technologist and oversees all laboratory operations within the cultivar development program. In addition, he is part of the variety release team for WSU wheat development and organizes an industry collaborative program run through the WWQL: Pacific Northwest Wheat Quality Council.

Doug Finkelnburg, UI Area Extension Educator for Dryland Cropping Systems
Doug is an assistant professor with UI Extension and serves five grain-producing counties in north-central Idaho. He holds an M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Idaho and has supported dryland agriculture focused UI Extension activities since 2008. Doug works with the area producers and ag-professionals to improve their resilience and productivity. His research and extension efforts include soil acidity mitigation, grazing cover crops in annual crop rotations, annual forage production, and crop diversification.

Dr. Randy Fortenbery, WSU Endowed Chair of Small Grains Economics
Randy Fortenbery is currently a professor and the Thomas B. Mick Endowed Chair in the School of Economic Sciences at Washington State University. He also serves as Chairman of the Ag Markets Advisory Committee to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the government agency responsible for oversight of U.S. derivative markets. His research focuses on agricultural price performance, the impacts of new information on relative and overall price levels, as well as the impact of futures price action on the stability of cash markets. He joined the WSU faculty in 2011 after spending 19 years at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Dr. Alecia Kiszonas, USDA-ARS Research Biologist
Alecia Kiszonas is a Research Biologist for the USDA-ARS in the Western Wheat Quality Lab. She received her BA in Chemistry and Biology from Ripon College, her MS in Crop Production & Physiology from Iowa State University, and her Ph.D. in Crop Science from Washington State University. Her research focuses on the genetics and biochemistry of wheat end-use quality. Additionally, she studies nutrition and product development. She holds adjunct status at WSU in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, as well as the School of Food Science at WSU/UofI.

Dr. Rebecca McGee, USDA-ARS, Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit
Rebecca McGee has been a Research Geneticist with ARS since 2009.  She leads the spring and winter pea and lentil breeding programs.  The general main objectives of her breeding programs are to increase yield and its stability by increasing resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Research that her lab conducts includes identification of genetic sources of heat tolerance in lentil, resistance to soil-borne pathogens and aphid-vectored viruses in both peas and lentils, mineral nutrient biofortification of peas and lentils, developing autumn-sown, winter-hardy food quality peas.  She received a Ph.D. in Horticulture and Plant Breeding from Oregon State University and an M.S. in Environmental Physiology from the University of Alaska.  Prior to joining ARS, she worked as a vegetable breeder for General Mills, Inc.

Dr. Craig Morris, USDA-ARS Western Wheat Quality Lab
Craig Morris has been the director of the Western Wheat Quality Laboratory since 1989. In his role, he supervises breeding line evaluation and conducts directed research on wheat quality traits. He holds adjunct professor appointments at WSU in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, the WSU/Univ. of Idaho School of Food Science, and at Colorado State Univ. Soil and Crop Sciences. He has served on the Board of Directors for AACCI, served three terms as Associate Editor for Cereal Chemistry, and is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Cereal Chemistry. Morris is chair and co-founder of the Pacific Northwest Wheat Quality Council, and a past member of the National Wheat Improvement Committee. He has published over 210 research papers, several book chapters, and been awarded six patents.

Dr. Bill Pan, WSU Soil Scientist
Bill Pan has worked in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences for the past 34 years, teaching soil fertility and plant nutrition courses, and researching nutrient cycling and management, root development and rhizosphere ecology. He has served as department chairman, director of the Washington Oilseeds Cropping Systems Project, director of the WSU partnership in the Regional Approaches to Climate Change USDA project, and now is co-leader with Dr. Tao of an NRCS soil health project, while serving as president-elect of the Soil Science Society of America.

Dr. Lyndon Porter, USDA-ARS, Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit
Lyndon Porter is a Research Plant Pathologist with the USDA-ARS and has been working on pea, chickpea, lentil and bean diseases for the past 13 years. He received his Bachelor and Master Degrees in Conservation Biology and Botany, respectively from Brigham Young University and his doctorate degree in Plant Pathology from Washington State University. His research focuses on integrated pest management practices to manage diseases in legume crops.

Dr. Michael Pumphrey, WSU Spring Wheat Breeder
Michael is an Associate Professor and Vogel Endowed Chair of spring wheat breeding and genetics. He leads the WSU spring wheat breeding and genetics program. His program is focused on the development of biotic and abiotic stress tolerant, high-yielding, and high-quality spring wheat varieties for diverse Washington and Pacific Northwest production environments. Research in his program includes characterizing 1) resistance to pests and diseases including stripe rust, Hessian fly, and Fusarium head blight; 2) end-use quality traits including milling and baking qualities of hard and soft wheat, falling numbers, and late-maturity alpha-amylase; 3) genetics of yield and biotic stress tolerance to heat and drought.

Dr. Karen Sanguinet, WSU Crop Physiologist
Karen Sanguinet joined WSU in 2014 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor in the Cryobiofrontier Research Center at Iwate University in Morioka, Japan, a Senior Researcher at UMass-Amherst, a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany, CA. She received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology at the University of California-Berkeley and her B.S. in Genetics and Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Kurtis Schroeder, UI Cropping Systems Agronomy and Plant Pathology
Dr. Schroeder received a B.S. in microbiology and an M.S. in plant science from the University of Idaho. He received a Ph.D. in plant pathology from Washington State University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Cropping Systems Agronomy and Plant Pathology at the University of Idaho. Dr. Schroeder’s research program focuses on studying various aspects of cereal-based cropping systems in northern Idaho including impacts and remediation of acid soils, nitrogen management in cereal crops, and management of soilborne diseases of wheat and black leg of canola. He also manages the north Idaho variety testing program for small grains and grain legumes.

Dr. Stephen Van Vleet, WSU Extension Specialist: Ag & Natural Resources
Steve joined Washington State University in 2005 and is the Extension specialist and Associate Professor in agriculture and natural resources. Steve has an M.S. in Entomology and Ph.D. in Agronomy. Current research includes small grain and pulse crop production, conservation agriculture, invasive plant management, and managed grazing.

Dale Whaley, WSU Extension Agronomist
Dale Whaley is the regional Extension specialist in Douglas County. His program focuses on biological weed control for noxious weeds, insect pest management and alternative cropping systems in the low-to-intermediate rainfall zones of eastern Washington.

Dr. Stewart Wuest, USDA-ARS, Pendleton, OR
Stewart studies the effects of tillage and surface residue on the performance of soil in dryland cropping systems of the Pacific Northwest. His research is aimed at helping producers maximize water storage and minimize erosion. Past research determined how tillage, no-till, surface residue, and soil organic matter control water infiltration and runoff. His current research focus is on summer fallow practices for more reliable winter wheat establishment and yield, with minimal cost, minimal erosion, and maximum soil quality. Growers are responding by finding ways to maintain residue cover and minimize tillage. Before moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1997, Stewart studied nitrogen dynamics under irrigated wheat at the University of California, Davis, where he earned a master’s degree in agronomy and a doctorate in soil science.

Don Wysocki, OSU Extension Soil Scientist
Don Wysocki is Extension Soil Scientist with the Crop and Soil Science Department at Pendleton, Oregon.  He received his BS in natural resources science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, MS in soil science from Washington State University, and Ph.D. in soil science from Iowa State University. He has been with OSU over 30 years and conducts extension work and applied research on dryland cropping systems in eastern Oregon. His cropping system work focuses on nutrient and residue management of cereal crops, oilseed crops, and direct seed farming practices.

Download the 2018 Wheat Academy Speaker Biographies (pdf) in pdf format.

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