2018 Lab Group: Front row left to right: Erica Casagrande Biasuz, Brenda Castaneda, Michelle Reid, Katie Mullin, Summyya Waliullah, Nadia Valverdi, Raquel Gomez. Back row left to right: Lee Kalcsits, Ryan Mullin, Jack Gavin, Giverson Mupambi, Chloe Smytheman, Hector Camargo Alvarez

Team Leader

Lee Kalcsits, Assistant Professor: Tree Fruit Physiology
509-663-8181 x229, E-mail: lee.kalcsits@wsu.edu
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.mupambi@wsu.edu
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.


Nadia Valverdi, PhD Student
Phone: 530-574-0546, E-mail: nadia.valverdi@wsu.edu
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.reid@wsu.edu
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: e.casagrandebiasuz@email.wsu.edu
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.

Raquel Gomez, MS Student
Phone: 209-581-2608, E-mail: raquel.gomez@wsu.edu
Raquel comes from California’s Central Valley where she really cultivated her passion for agriculture. Upon completing a B.S. in Agricultural Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from California State University, Stanislaus in May of 2017, she joined Dr. Kalcsits’s lab in pursuit of an M.S. in Horticulture. Raquel’s research will focus on how different factors influence bitter pit incidence. She hopes to one day become a professor and extension agent.


Hector Camargo, Research Assistant
509-663-8181 x224, E-mail: h.camargoalvarez@wsu.edu
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.mullin@wsu.edu
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: csater@wsu.edu
Chris joined the lab in October 2016.  She has a B.S. in Physics from Eastern Oregon University.

Former Students and Staff


    Postdoctoral Scholars

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

    Graduate Students

Corina Serban (2016-2018), Researcher, Stemilt Growers LLC, Wenatchee, WA

Rayane Barcelos Bisi (2017), PhD student at the Federal University of Lavras, Brazil

Guilherme Locatelli (2017), PhD student at the Federal University of Lavras, Brazil

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

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

    Undergraduate Students

Jack Gavin (2018), Western Washington University, Ecology

Brenda Castaneda (2018), Wesleyan University, Biology

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


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

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