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SUSTAINABLE SEED SYSTEMS LAB: Breeding for Diversity
We are a group of plant breeders, researchers and graduate students set on a path to bring diversity to our agroecological landscapes through innovative plant breeding and agronomic practices. Local farmers inspire our research projects and our supporters and funders fuel our pursuit of adapting novel crops to our regions and developing new, functional traits for our staple grains. In the lab, we study our crops down to the molecular level. In the field, we partner with farmers throughout the Pacific Northwest to conduct variety, agronomic and breeding trials on their land. In our work, we emphasize the value of engaging farmers throughout the breeding process. The strength of our breeding program comes from the melding of farmer and researcher knowledge. More info at www.sustainableseedsystems.org.
Sustainable Seed Systems Lab (Alphabetized by Last Name):
Halle completed her B.S. in Biology in Philadelphia, PA at Drexel University. While there she worked in the Fisheries and Entomology Departments at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and in the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program (BBPP) studying primates and marine turtles. After graduation Halle traveled to Equatorial Guinea to take data for the BBPP. The main threat to primates and marine turtles in the area is poaching for human consumption. In many parts of the world, agriculture and hunting are primary causes for loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Halle's interest in biodiversity and evolutionary biology led her to research plant breeding, which is how she came to study barley and quinoa breeding in the Sustainable Seeds Lab at Washington State University. She has one project studying the effects of genotype by environment interactions on beta glucan, mineral and starch content in barley. Her other master’s project focuses on quinoa processing and its ability to improve nutritional quality in baked goods. Halle started working in the lab in May 2017 and began classes in the fall.
Evan was raised in Western Pennsylvania and Madison, Wisconsin before attending Colorado College, where he earned a B.A. in Organismal Biology and Ecology, a minor in Biochemistry. He was awarded the Enderson Award in Conservation Biology. Following graduation from CC, Evan served as an AmeriCorps member in the Student Conservation Association while working as a watershed restoration intern for the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust. He then moved to central Florida, where he joined the Plant Ecology Program at Archbold Biological Station as a research intern. Evan worked at the Blackland Research and Extension Center as a technician on multiple switchgrass ecology, physiology, and genomics projects before joining the Sustainable Seed Systems lab at WSU. His dissertation focuses on breeding quinoa and barley for flavor and nutrition. He is passionate about bridging the gap between farmers, stakeholders and consumers to support the development of regional grain economies. Evan enjoys facilitating tastings that engage the public with sensory perception of regional agricultural products.
Cedric was born in Rwanda and graduated from the University Of Rwanda with a major in Soil and Water Management. Cedric aspires to work with farmers around the world, especially in Rwanda. He would like to use a participatory approach in engaging farmers to meet local community development needs. During his undergraduate studies, he worked for Building Bridges with Rwanda (BBR Ltd.) for five years on the project “Agricultural Food Security, Nutrition and Wellness.” He also worked for Good Neighbors Rwanda in partnership with the World Food Program in the project “Food For New Village." In the summer of 2012, he was an intern with WSU students and staff on different agricultural projects at the Covaga Innovation Center in Rwanda. Working closely with rural residents at the community level gave him opportunities to test new ideas. These experiences also prepared him for joining WSU in the fall of 2013. Cedric completed his MS with Kevin Murhpy in 2016. Currently, he is working on his PhD with Kevin Murphy. His research focuses on breeding and agronomic practices for quinoa, millet and teff production. He is also studying different intercropping systems in quinoa, irrigation regimes in millet and seed extrusion in teff.
Julianne grew up in central Massachusetts surrounded by small-scale apple and pear producers. Julianne received her BS in Environmental science from Colorado College, leading her to study agroecosystems in India and Thailand. Her first undertaking of interdisciplinary research was with an Indian organic tea cooperative that resulted in her undergraduate thesis, A Political Ecology of Tea in Darjeeling, India. Julianne’s global agricultural career has placed her in New Zealand, Australia, and the US working with biodynamic orchardists, regenerative ranchers, and organic farmers. In 2017, Julianne earned her MS in Crop Science at WSU with research topics including evolutionary participatory quinoa breeding and soil microbiology. After her M.S, she continued working with WSU at the Puyallup Research and Extension Center and subsequently, the Washington State Department of Agriculture. In 2019, Julianne rejoined the Sustainable Seed Systems lab to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD in Crop Science and Human Health and Nutrition. Her research efforts are focused on evolutionary participatory crop breeding, breeding crops for enhanced nutrition and low input agroecosystems, and determining human health responses to new crop cultivars.
Originally from Wisconsin, Kristofor was a secondary school History and Political Science teacher from 2005 to 2009. He left his home state to become a United States Peace Corps volunteer in the Sub-Saharan African country of Malawi from 2009 to 2012, where he worked mainly in agroforestry and agricultural extension. On his return to the US, he completed a second Bachelor’s degree in Organic Agricultural Systems at WSU and worked as an intern in Kevin Murphy’s Alternative Crops Breeding Program. As a research intern, he conducted a 2014 buckwheat variety trial and assisted with quinoa variety trials and quinoa population development in eastern and western Washington. Kristofor’s interests lie in the areas of plant breeding (both annuals and perennials) as well as extension work with small-scale farms and farmers, particularly in organic and alternative production systems. Kristofor obtained a Master’s degree in Crop Science from WSU in 2017. He investigated quinoa transplanting practices and weed control using weeder geese on organic production systems. Kristofor currently manages the lab's western WA trials.
Daniel “Dan” Packer is a Research Associate managing the quinoa breeding and agronomy program within the Sustainable Seed Systems lab. His research emphasizes applied plant breeding methods for quinoa cultivar development and germplasm evaluation for the agricultural environments of the Pacific Northwest. Originally from San Antonio, TX, Dan has a BSc in Plant Biology from Brigham Young University and a PhD in Plant Breeding from Texas A&M University. As a BYU undergraduate, he was first introduced to quinoa research under the guidance of Eric Jellen and Peter Maughan and at Texas A&M, his plant breeding training occurred under the guidance of William “Bill” Rooney as part of a sorghum breeding and genetics program. Prior to his arrival with the SSSL, Dan was employed as a sorghum breeder with Ceres, Inc. in College Station, TX and Puerto Vallarta, MX developing inbred lines and commercial hybrids for biofuel applications.
Max is an Idaho native who enjoys an active outdoorsy lifestyle that includes dirtbiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, and backcountry skiing. He is responsible for the field and greenhouse operations of the Barley Breeding Program as well as other alternative crops. He focuses on the development of varieties that are competitive with current conventional lines that are hardy in the dryland cropping systems unique to the Palouse and eastern Washington. He’s very fond of the Palouse and the unparalleled riches and opportunities it has to offer and encourages all visitors to explore the region.
Kevin is an Associate Professor of International Seed and Cropping Systems in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at WSU, where he leads the Sustainable Seed Systems Lab and their work on specialty crop breeding and agronomy program. The goal of his lab is to increase the genetic- and bio-diversity of cropping systems across Washington State through the development of new cultivars and implementation of ecologically-rooted production practices. Internationally, he conducts participatory breeding and agronomic research on quinoa, barley, and millets in Rwanda, Malawi, and Ecuador. His group focuses on breeding and/or cropping systems research in barley, quinoa, spelt, buckwheat, perennial grains, and millets. He and his team emphasize crops, varieties, and/or farming systems that optimize nutritional value and provide tolerance to heat, drought, and diseases while improving yield, flavor and end-use quality, and their cropping systems research has included studies on intercropping, cover crops, crop rotation effects, no-till farming, crop-livestock integration, and optimal planting dates and nitrogen, irrigation and seeding rates.
About the Organizers:
WSU FOOD SYSTEMS TEAM
The Washington State University Food Systems Program delivers multidisciplinary expertise across academic, research, and extension, providing specialized resources for farmers and food systems contributors. We seek to work with communities throughout the state to foster viable farm businesses, optimize sustainable natural resource stewardship, and to promote scaled processing and distribution, always in the pursuit of access to healthy food for all. Our work is guided by an interdisciplinary team made up of WSU Faculty, Staff, and critical non-WSU partners. The WSU Food Systems Team collaborates on initiatives that promote research, implement change, and provide unparalleled educational opportunities for farm and food systems stakeholders throughout the state. The WSU Food Systems Program has grown from historical roots of what was the Small Farms Program, built on many years of dedicated support for Washington Farmers. We now venture to broaden our objectives, taking a holistic approach to supporting the Washington food system. We are organized as a collaborative program supported by both the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) and WSU Extension. All housed within the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. READ MORE AT WWW.FOODSYSTEMS.WSU.EDU.