Team Leader

Lee Kalcsits, Assistant Professor: Tree Fruit Physiology
509-663-8181 x229, 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

Post-Doctoral Research Associates

Giverson Mupambi, PhD
Phone: 509-663-8181 x252, E-mail:
Giverson is from Mutare, Zimbabwe and graduated from the University of Fort Hare in South Africa with a B.Sc. in Agricultural Economics and Plant Production. He earned his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Horticulture at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. His Ph.D. focused on tree water relations and the occurrence of sunburn in apple fruit. Giverson initially came to the U.S. in March 2015 to do a one year research internship with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. He joined the Kacsits lab in April 2016 and his research focuses on the stress physiology of apple trees under photo selective netting. He is also interested in water stress responses in apple trees.

Sumyya Waliullah, PhD
Phone:  509-663-8181 x252, E-mail:
Sumyya joined the Kalcsits lab on December 1, 2016 as a Visiting Scholar, and became a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on April 1, 2017. Sumyya completed her PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from Ehime University, Japan. Her doctoral work focused on the molecular basis of plant microbe interactions. Previously, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Ohio State University and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. In the Kalcsits lab she is working on histology, microscopy and the molecular mechanisms involved in physiological disorders in apple and pear.

Visiting Scholars

Rayane Barcelos Bisi, visiting PhD student
Rayane is student from Brazil and graduated as an Agronomist from the Federal University of Viçosa in September 2013. Rayane came to the U.S. in 2012-2013 to do her trainee program at Glades Crop Care in Florida, where she worked with crop consulting in Pests and Diseases. She earned her Master Degree in February 2015 at the Federal University of Lavras – Brazil, focused on plant propagation. She started her PhDin March 2015 in Brazil, at the Federal University of Lavras with Dr. Rafael Pio and she works with pear, apple, plum, peach, quince and fig tree. Her dissertation is focused on floral characterization and reproductive compatibility between hybrid pear trees for subtropical regions. Rayane is supported by the Brazilian Government – CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel). She joined the Dr. Lee Kalcsits Lab in April 2017 and will be here until September. Her research focuses on the blooming of apple trees under photo selective netting.

Guilherme Locatelli, visiting PhD student
Guilherme is from Uberlândia, Brazil and graduated as an Agronomist from the Federal University of Roraima – Brazil in September 2013. He is supported by the Brazilian Government – CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel). He earned his Masters Degree in February 2015 at the Federal University of Lavras – Brazil, focused in propagation by grafting. He started his PhD in March 2015 in Brazil, at the Federal University of Lavras with Dr. Rafael Pio. He works with pear, apple, plum, peach, quince and fig trees. His PhD dissertation is focused in adaptability and phenotypic stability of apple cultivars in a tropical climate and leaf anatomy and the use of water potential in apple tree cultivars to estimate tolerance to water stress. He joined the Dr. Kalcsits lab in April 2017 and his research focuses on leaf anatomy of apple trees under photo selective netting and responses to water stress.


Corina F. Serban, MS Student
 509-470-1169, E-mail:
Corina joined the lab in January 2016 and her research will focus on calcium uptake and distribution in apple. Corina comes from Cluj Napoca – “The heart of Transylvania”, Romania. After she graduated with her B.S. in Landscape Architecture from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (2013) from Cluj Napoca, she became a member of the editorial board of the University research journals. In 2014, she started an 18 months internship with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, under general supervision of Dr. Ines Hanrahan, in Yakima, WA. During her internship she was involved in different research projects in applied horticulture in areas such as: fruit quality, storage of fruit and postharvest handling, testing of new agricultural technologies, and food safety. After her internship in tree fruit research in WA, Corina went to South Germany, where she took a work experience at the Competence Center for Fruit Growing at the Lake of Constance “Kompetenzzentrum Obstbau Bodensee” (KOB), for a period of two months. Corina worked primarily on a research study with “Fuji” apples and the fruit disorder watercore.

Nadia Valverdi, PhD Student
Phone: 530-574-0546, E-mail:
Nadia is from Catamarca, Argetnina 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 started her PhD August 2016 with Dr. Lee Kalcsits to work on “Abiotic Stress Physiology in Apple Trees.” Nadia’s research will mainly focus on water and heat stress and how they affect root development and nutrition uptake.

Michelle Reid, MS Student
Phone: 509-663-8181 x224, 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 with Dr Kalcsits. She will focus on the “Control of fruit size and bitter pit in Honeycrisp Apples using irrigation.”

Erica Casagrande Biasuz, PhD 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.


Hector Camargo, Research Assistant
509-663-8181 x224, E-mail:
Hector is an agronomist from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and has an MSc. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from Washington State University with emphasis in land, air, water & environmental engineering and crop modelling. He is working in Lee Kalcsits’ tree fruit physiology lab as a Research Assistant and will assist with all the trials performed in the Kalcsits’ program, from the experiment setting up until data collection and data analysis.

Katie Mullin, Research Assistant
509-663-8181 x224, E-mail:
Katie joined the lab in May 2015 after completing a B.S. in Biology at WSU.

Chris Sater, Research Assistant
Phone: 509-663-8181 x232, E-mail:
Chris joined the lab in October 2016.  She has a B.S. in Physics from Eastern Oregon University.

Former Students and Staff


Luca Giordani (2014-2015), Researcher in the Vegetable Industry in Italy

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

Olivia Schertz (2014 NSF REU Summer Student)

Celeste Wheeler (2014-2015), Technician at Michigan State University

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