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Research Interests


    My research program explores the areas of abiotic stress, plant nutrition, and photosynthesis in fruit trees in one of the major tree fruit production regions in the world. I develop collaborative research that addresses short-, medium-, and long-term tree fruit industry needs. My program takes a systems-based approach to understand the physiological mechanisms contributing to the development of physiological disorders in tree fruit. I also train undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows from around the world for positions in industry and academia to supply the growing need for tree fruit research, both within Washington State and globally. Through this systems-based approach, I am developing novel methods to measure plant performance, nutrient uptake and distribution, and fruit quality. Regional, national and international collaborations using these approaches will combine to reduce loss from physiological disorders in the tree fruit industry and, at the same time, provide effective research that extends scientific knowledge of plant nutrition and abiotic stress responses in woody plants.

  • Tree fruit physiology
  • Abiotic stress
  • Environmental Physiology
  • Plant nutrition
  • Impacts of preharvest environment on postharvest physiology


Research Projects


Accelerating the development, evaluation, and adoption of new apple rootstock technologies to improve apple grower profitability and sustainability (2016-2021; Co-PD; USDA NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative)
Project Director: Lailiang Cheng; Co-PDs: Lee Kalcsits, Gennaro Fazio, Mark Mazzola, Terence Robinson, Bradley Rickard, Stefano Musacchi, Esmaeil Fallahi, Teryl Roper, Greg Lang, Philip Schwallier; Co-Investigators: Grant Cardon, Brent Black. USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

MRI: acquisition of a total reflection x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (2018-2021; Senior Personnel; National Science Foundation; Major Research Instrumentation)
Other project members: Henning-Hans Kunz (Principal Investigator, Washington State University, Pullman, WA); Other project members: Michael Knoblauch, Michelle McGuire, Mechthild Tegeder, Jeremiah Busch (WSU School of Biological Sciences, Pullman, WA) Karen Sanguinet, Tarah Sullivan (WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Pullman, WA).

New insights into apple calcium application: Understanding its contradicting effects on postharvest disorders for improved fruit quality (2018-2021; Principal Investigator; USDA NIFA Binational Agricultural Research and Development).
Other project members: Dan Gamrasni (Migal-Galilee Technology Center, Israel), and Haya Friedmann (Volcani Institute, Israel).

Root growth management to reduce Ca deficiency disorders in Apples and Cherries (2018-2021; Co-Principal Investigator; Washington State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant.
Other project members: Bernardita Sallato (PI, WSU IAREC, Prosser, WA), Matthew Whiting (WSU IAREC, Prosser, WA).

Risk modelling for a future climate for growing tree fruit in WA State. (2018-2021; Co-Principal Investigator; Washington State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant).
Other project members: Kirti Rajopalan (Principal Investigator; WSU Biosyst Engineering, Pullman, WA), Vince Jones (WSU TFREC, Wenatchee, WA), Matt Jones (WSU TFREC, Wenatchee, WA), Markus Keller (WSU IAREC, Prosser, WA), Chad Kruger (WSU Mt. Vernon, Mt. Vernon, WA), Claudio Stockle (WSU Biosyst. Engineering, Pullman, WA)

Reducing sunburn in apple through more precise management of fruit surface temperature (2018-2019; Principal Investigator; Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission Apple Horticulture Review)
Other project members: Sumyya Waliullah, Co-PI and Jessica Waite, Co-PI (WSU TFREC, Wenatchee, WA).

How do we measure and manage soil health for productive orchards? (2017-2019; Co-PI; Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission Apple Horticulture Review.
Other project members: Tianna Dupont (Principal Investigator; WSU TFREC, Wenatchee, WA)