The central Oregon region is a major producer of seed and specialty crops. My lab, located at the Central Oregon Agricultural Research and Extension Center (COAREC), is focused on the epidemiology and management of diseases affecting agricultural crops in central Oregon. Carrot seed, Kentucky bluegrass seed, peppermint, and garlic are just a few of the crops that are of interest, and the fact that these crops are grown throughout the Pacific Northwest allows me to work with growers and stakeholders throughout Oregon.
I have always been interested in plant sciences, and worked for several years in the nursery and greenhouse industries before pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biology. Though my initial interests were botanical in nature, I took a mycology class and was immediately hooked on fungi. Upon graduation, I was asked by my mycology professor and undergraduate advisor: “What’s next for you?” I indicated that I was looking to work or study in an applied field that combined my interests in botany and mycology. Her response: “What about plant pathology?” I said that I would look into it…
My program focuses on reducing the impact of plant diseases using integrated pest management principles that include cultural practices, chemical and biological control, disease modeling and prediction, and employing risk-based disease management strategies. Complementary research is conducted in the laboratory, greenhouse, experimental plots, and commercial fields. Extension is another important component, and provides opportunities for me to share research results and, most importantly, connect directly with growers and receive feedback on how I can make my research more meaningful to them.
Agriculture and plant pathology are inherently interdisciplinary, so collaborations and cooperative efforts with other scientists, farmers, and industry personnel are important elements of my program. My lab is fortunate to be able to work with a great group of people at Oregon State University (Darrin Walenta, Kelly Vining, Michael Qian, and Jeff Chang, to name a few) and other Universities, as well as farmers and stakeholders that comprise local, state, and national agricultural commodity groups.