Dr. Carlos Bonilla named director of Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center

The College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University has named Dr. Carlos Bonilla as the new director for the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC).

He replaces Dr. Silvia Rondon who had served as interim director since last year during the international search for a permanent director.

With a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Bonilla joins Oregon State from the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago where he most recently held the position of Professor in the Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering. A well-regarded researcher and educator, with numerous awards and accolades from both the institutions he’s served and leading professional organizations, including the American Society of Agronomy, Bonilla is eager to join Oregon State’s land-grant system to serve the greater agricultural community.

“HAREC has been very successful for many years and the people there are tremendous,” Bonilla said. “I’m excited to work with them and eager to build upon the connections with industry as well as campus researchers, to work even more closely with stakeholders, faculty and students to advance opportunity for growers.”

When asked about his main priorities as the new leader of HAREC, Bonilla noted several top focus areas, including agricultural competitiveness, helping growers compete on a global scale while balancing environmental sustainability with production with a focus on soil health, and water quality and quantity. He also noted new equipment that will soon be made available to researchers at HAREC to help local growers better measure soil nutrients, soil aggregates, and soil stability with additional research expected to explore the potential of soil carbon sequestration to address climate and environmental issues impacting the agricultural community and natural resources.

“We are thrilled to add Dr. Bonilla to the College of Agricultural Sciences team and excited about what he will be able to accomplish as the new director of HAREC,” said Dr. Staci Simonich, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. “His background in soil health, water, and agronomy and his passion for collaborating with industry to advance agricultural competitiveness and resilience is a critical addition to our statewide mission of teaching, research, and outreach.”

Bonilla has been with the Universidad Católica de Chile for the past 15 years and sees many similarities between southern Chile and Oregon with its densely diverse agricultural and environmental landscape. Eager to establish roots in Oregon at the Hermiston station, Bonilla is expected to start in his new role at the start of 2023.