2019 Wheat Academy 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 the R. J. Cook Endowed Chair of Wheat Research and 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.

Paul Carter, WSU Extension Agronomist
Paul Carter, Associate Professor, joined Washington State University in 2005. He is an Extension regional specialist in dryland cropping systems, soil nutrients, soil and plant health, and grain quality. Graduating from Purdue University, Paul has degrees in Agronomy and Ag Mechanization and Agronomy soil science, precision ag, and remote sensing. Current activities include plots of soil acidity and nutrient availability/deficiencies for crops on eastern Washington soils.

Dr. Sanford Eigenbrode, UI Entomologist
Sanford Eigenbrode is Professor of Entomology and University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology at the University of Idaho, where he has been on the faculty for 24 years. His research interests include chemical ecology, landscape ecology and management of insects affecting PNW production systems, with emphases on insect-vectored viruses of wheat, potatoes and legumes and recent interest in the arthropod components of soil health in these systems. He was the director of the REACCH project, a NIFA-funded Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP), Regional Approaches to Climate Change in Pacific Northwest Agriculture and he is a PI on a continuation NIFA CAP, Pacific Northwest Wheat-Based Systems: Landscapes in Transition.

Doug Engle, WSU Research Associate
After graduate school, Doug started work as a wheat milling technician with the USDA-ARS at the Western Wheat Quality Laboratory. Over a career lasting over 35 years at the WWQL, he obtained experience in analytical flour testing and experimental baking. Currently, Doug is a WSU Research Associate in the Crop & Soils Department and oversees all laboratory operations within the cultivar development program. In addition, he is part of the variety release team for WSU wheat development, manages the Genotype & Environment project that produces the Preferred Variety Pamphlet and organizes an industry collaborative program run through the WWQL: Pacific Northwest Wheat Quality Council.

Aaron Esser, WSU Extension Agronomist
Aaron Esser is a professor of Extension at WSU. He received his M.S. in Plant Science from the University of Idaho and his B.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Idaho. His research focuses on the adoption of conservation tillage practices, diversified cropping and improved farm economics. He has been working on integrated wireworm management strategies in wheat cropping systems since 2008. He also oversees the management of the WSU Wilke Research and Extension Farm in the intermediate rainfall cropping zone of eastern Washington.

Doug Finkelnburg, UI Area Extension Educator for Dryland Cropping Systems
Doug is an associate professor with UI Extension serving grain producing counties in north Idaho. He holds a M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Idaho and has supported dryland agriculture focused UI Extension activities since 2008. Doug works with area producers and ag-professionals to improve their resilience and productivity. His extension efforts include soil acidity mitigation, grazing cover crops in annual crop rotations, annual forage production, herbicide resistance mitigation 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. Jodi Johnson-Maynard, UI Soil and Water Management
Jodi Johnson-Maynard is Professor and Head, Department of Soil and Water Systems at the University of Idaho where she teaches and conducts research.  Her research interests include earthworm ecology, soil nitrogen and carbon cycling and determining the impact of management on soil properties and processes and soil health.  She currently serves as the director of a multi-institutional, USDA-funded Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP), Pacific Northwest Wheat-Based Systems:  Landscapes in Transition.

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 PhD 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. Isaac Madsen, WSU Extension Agronomist
Isaac Madsen is the extension agronomist for the Washington Oilseeds Cropping System (WOCS) project and member of the Extension Dryland Cropping Systems Team. His research focuses on stand establishment and winter survival in winter canola as well as alternative cropping practices such as companion cropping and dual-purpose canola. While his primary focus is oilseeds, Isaac has also developed root imaging techniques for evaluating disease resistance in wheat genotypes. In addition to research, Isaac leads the WOCS extension efforts and teaches soil fertility and fertilizer management at WSU.

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. Timothy Murray, WSU Extension Plant Pathologist
Tim Murray is Professor and Chair of the Department of Plant Pathology. After teaching introductory plant pathology for 30 years, he joined the extension Dryland Cropping systems team in 2012. His research program focuses on the sustainable control of wheat diseases including eyespot, Cephalosporium stripe, and snow molds, with a focus on improving the effectiveness of disease resistance and managing soil pH. He is author of A Colour Handbook of Diseases of Small Grain Cereal Crops, and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Plant Pathology and Compendium of Wheat Diseases and Pests, 3rd edition, and author of over 100 scientific publications.

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 14 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. 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 as well as a Ph.D. in plant pathology from Washington State University.  He is currently an Associate 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.

Rachel Zuger, WSU Weed Science Research Associate
Rachel Zuger is a Research Associate for professor Dr. Ian Burke in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at WSU. In May 2016, she received her M.S. in Weed Science from Washington State University working with Dr. Ian Burke on ALS (Group 2) and ACCase (Group 1) herbicide resistance in the Pacific Northwest. As a research associate, Rachel works on herbicide resistance, herbicide efficiency, crop tolerance, and cropping system projects in crops that include wheat, chickpeas, canola, peas, fallow, CRP, and lentils. She currently manages the herbicide resistance testing program at WSU.

View the 2019 Wheat Academy Speaker Biographies (pdf) in pdf format.

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