Dr. Brian Pearson Named New Director of Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Following a comprehensive national search, Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences has named Dr. Brian Pearson as the new Director of the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center (MCAREC).

Pearson brings nearly 20 years of experience in research, teaching, and extension with strong roots in the land-grant system. An award-winning researcher, Pearson’s investigative focus considers all aspects of diverse specialty crop production to include selection, cultivation, and management for aesthetic, edible, beverage, and medicinal application and use with a specific focus on developing a thorough understanding of how each agricultural production factor, separately and in combination, influence plant growth and development. He obtained his PhD in Environmental Horticulture from the University of Florida where he currently serves as Associate Professor at the Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Mid-Florida Research and Education Center.

“We are thrilled to welcome Brian to Oregon State,” said Staci Simonich, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. “The robust leadership he brings in understanding specialty crop production as well as his passion for connecting with stakeholders to have meaningful impact will not only help producers in the mid-Columbia region but will further put Oregon on the map as one of the most densely diverse agricultural systems in the country.”

Nestled on 56 acres in Hood River, MCAREC conducts research and outreach supporting the tree fruit industry in the Mid-Columbia region for long term economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Continuous discovery and outreach are keys to its on-going success. With a focus on pears and cherries, its primary research areas include:

  • Horticulture - production systems and physiology
  • Postharvest physiology - fruit storage and handling
  • Entomology – integrated management of insect and mite pests

Oregon ranks third in the nation for sweet cherry production and second in the nation for pear production. The Mid-Columbia region is the largest production area in the state for both crops, with around 13,000 acres of cherry orchards and about 12,000 acres of pears.

“I am looking forward to working with growers to help them stay ahead of continually evolving challenges that face tree-fruit production in particular,” Pearson said. “All the more so because of the incredible diversity of Oregon’s agricultural landscape and natural beauty.”  

Pearson will step into this position on December 31, which has been held by Stuart Reitz as interim Director since January 2022.