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12 people standing in front of a fence
Kalcsits Lab Crew, 2019

Left to right: Lee Kalcsits, Chris Sater, Bi Zheng Tan, Brenda Castaneda, Michelle Reid, Raquel Gomez, Antoinette Avorgbedor, Alexander Haase, Jessica Waite, Nadia Valverdi, Erica Casagrande Biasuz, and Orlando Howe.

Team Leader

Lee Kalcsits, Assistant Professor: Tree Fruit Physiology
509-293-8764, E-mail:
Lee is the lab leader and joined WSU in 2014 to conduct research on tree fruit physiology. Growing up in Saskatchewan, Canada, a challenging environment to grow tree fruit. However, despite these challenged, he was raised on a small fruit orchard that produced strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons (serviceberries, juneberries), sour cherries and cold hardy apples where he developed a passion for horticulture and more specifically, trees. After earning a B.S.A. in Horticulture from the University of Saskatchewan, he was introduced to research on poplar trees, a common model tree species used in tree physiology. He earned his M.Sc. in Plant Sciences from the University of Saskatchewan and Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of British Columbia as a NSERC Vanier Scholar working with poplar with an emphasis on dormancy and nitrogen fluxes, respectively. He then joined the University of Victoria as a NSERC CREATE Postdoctoral Fellow until accepting a position with WSU and back to his roots, tree fruit horticulture and physiology. Google ScholarResearchgate

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Nadia Valverdi, Ph.D. 
Phone: 530-574-0546, E-mail:
Nadia is from Catamarca, Argentina and graduated as an Agronomist from the Universidad Nacional de Catamarca in December 2011. Nadia came to the U.S. in 2013 with a Fulbright scholarship to start her Master’s in Horticulture with Dr. Matthew Whiting (WSU IAREC, Prosser) on “The Effects of Near-Harvest Irrigation on Sweet Cherry Fruit Quality.” Nadia finished her Master’s program in December 2015 and worked as a Research Assistant from January 1st until March 31st in Dr. Whiting’s lab. She completed her Ph.D. (“Abiotic Stress Physiology in Apple Trees.”) in December 2019 with Dr. Lee Kalcsits. Nadia’s research focused on water and heat stress and how they affect root development and nutrition uptake. In January 2020 she started as a post-doc in the the Kalcsits lab.


Erica Casagrande Biasuz, Ph.D. Student
Phone: 509-339-9880, E-mail:
Erica is from Caxias do Sul, Brazil. She graduated with a B.S. in Agricultural Science from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) in Italy. In 2016 she completed her Master’s in International Horticulture Science at the University of Bologna, Italy. During her Master’s program she also studied Plant Pathology and Biotechnology at Technical University of Munich, Germany. Her Master’s thesis was focused on “Assessment of bioassay for the prediction of apple replant disease severity”. In August 2017, she started her Ph.D. with Dr. Kalcsits. Her research focuses on understanding the link between water and nutrient uptake and distribution in apple trees.

Alexander Haase, M.S. Student

Alex is from Lynnwood, Washington. He graduated with a B.S. in Integrated Plant Sciences from Washington State University in May of 2019. He was an undergraduate intern at the WSU Mount Vernon research and extension center, where he worked on assessing the effectiveness of utilizing dry matter content as a quality metric for cider apples. In August 2019, Alex began working on his M.S. in Horticulture at Dr. Kalcsits’s lab. His research will focus on identifying genotypic variation in sunburn susceptibility of apple fruit and the developmental and physiological changes that contribute to sunburn resistance.


Michelle Reid, M.S., Scientific Assistant
Phone: 509-293-8810, E-mail:
Michelle was a CAHNRS undergraduate intern in 2015. She worked on identifying fruit growth and calcium spray holding capacity of developing Honeycrisp apples. After completing her B.S. in Agricultural Technology at WSU in December 2015, she re-joined the lab as a Research Assistant in January 2016. In August 2017 Michelle began working on her Master’s in Horticulture and finished in May 2019.


Chris Sater, Research Assistant
Phone: 509-293-8754, E-mail:
Chris joined the lab in October 2016.  She has a B.S. in Physics from Eastern Oregon University.

Orlando Howe, Technical Assistant
Orlando joined the lab in November 2018.  He is a student at Wenatchee Valley College.

Schaefer Buchanan, Technical Assistant
Schaefer joined the lab in September 2019.  He has a B.A.Sc. in Geological Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.

Former Students and Staff


Postdoctoral Scholars

Jessica Waite (2018-2020), Research Geneticist, USDA-ARS, Wenatchee, WA

Sumyya Waliullah (2016-2018), Research Professional, University of Georgia Tifton

Giverson Mupambi (2015-2018), Assistant Professor, Cranberry Physiology, University of Massachusetts


Graduate Students

Nadia Valverdi, Ph.D. (2016-2019), postdoctoral scholar, Tree Fruit Physiology, Washington State University

Raquel Gomez, M.S. (2017-2019), Scientific Assistant, Postharvest Systems, Washington State University

Bi Zheng Tan, Visiting Ph.D. Student (2019), Ph.D. student, University of Tasmania. Ph.D. Project: Optimising Nutrient Management for Improved Productivity and Fruit Quality in Apples

Michelle Reid, M.S. (2017-2019), Scientific Assistant, Tree Fruit Physiology, Washington State University

Corina Serban, M.S. (2016-2018), Associate in Research, Cherry Breeding Program, Washington State University

Rayane Barcelos Bisi, Visiting Ph.D. Student (2017), Postdoctoral Researcher at USDA-ARS in Florida

Guilherme Locatelli, Visiting Ph.D. Student (2017), Researcher

Luca Giordani (2014-2015), Variety Manager RKGrowers, Italy

Laura Asteggiano (2014-2015), Consultant in the Horticulture Industry, Italy


Undergraduate Students

Brenda Castaneda (2018 -2020), Wesleyan University, Biology

Antoinette Avorgbedor (2019, WSU CAHNRS REEU intern), Cornell University, Biological/Biosystems Engineering

Jack Gavin (2018), Western Washington University, Ecology

Ryan Mullin (2017 and 2018), Washington State University, Computer Sciences

Chloe Smytheman (2017 and 2018), Montana State University, Forest Sciences

Chelsea Hill (2016), Washington State University, Ag. Technology

Michelle Reid (2015), Washington State University, Ag. Technology

Olivia Schertz (2014, NSF REU Summer Student), Clemson University, Food Sciences



Katie Mullin (2015-2019), Health Care, Wenatchee, WA

Hector Camargo Alvarez (2017-2018), Ph.D. student, University of Birmingham, England

Jordan Briggs (2015-2016), M.Ag. Program in Viticulture, Washington State University

Celeste Wheeler (2014-2015), M.S. Student at Michigan State University