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Small Fruit Horticulture Team

Lisa Wasko DeVetterLisa Wasko DeVetter, Associate Professor

Lisa leads the state-wide SFH program and is based at the Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon, Washington.  Originally from Iowa, Lisa developed her agricultural interests while spending summers on her family’s farm and helping her grandmother cultivate a diverse farmyard garden.  Her horticultural interests grew as she engaged in international development projects at Iowa State University (ISU), which is where she also earned her BS in biology and horticulture.  She continued studying at ISU and got her MS in both horticulture and soil science before continuing on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her PhD.  Lisa joined WSU in 2014 and has developed a diverse research and extension program with an emphasis on maximizing productivity, fruit quality, and on-farm efficiencies, while ensuring the health of adjacent natural resources critical for small fruit crop production in the Pacific Northwest. Primary research areas include optimizing pollination services in small fruit crops, improved end-of-life management of agricultural plastics used in small fruit crop production, machine harvesting technologies, and nutrient management.

Phone: 360.848.6124
Twitter: Lisa DeVetter@WSU_SmallFruits

Sean WatkinsonSean Watkinson, Technician/Scientific Assistant

Sean is originally from Texas, but calls Mount Vernon, Washington, home.  He has been with WSU for over twelve years and helps assists in all aspects of field, greenhouse, and laboratory work.


Current Students


Brenda Madrid, MS Student

Brenda was born in El Salvador, a very small country in Central America. Her family moved to Snohomish County when she was seven years old. When she started college, she thought that she would end up in the medicine field, but soon learned that agriculture was more fitting, and natural. Brenda completed her undergraduate degree in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Systems at WSU Everett in 2020. She starts her MS degree program in Fall 2020 and is studying application of biodegradable plastic mulches in small fruit production and alternative plasticulture practices for June-bearing strawberry in western Washington. In her spare time, she tends to her garden where she grows a mix of berries, cut flowers and herbs. Brenda’s other interest include going on long hikes with her dog Leah.


Xuechun “May” Wang, MS Student

Xuechun, or “May”, is from Qinhuangdao, China, a beautiful coastal city well-known as the starting point of the Great Wall. She finished her BS degree at the University of Florida (UF) and graduated with higher honors (Magna cum laude ) in plant science with a specialization on plant health and protection. Starting her junior year in college, she worked at the UF/IFAS Plant Diagnostic Center and found strong research interests on plant pathology. She wants to pursue studies in applied plant pathology and research on plant disease management. Her goal is to help farmers and industry members figure out what is wrong with their plants and how to deal with them. May will start her MS studies Dr. Lisa DeVetter’s small fruit horticulture lab on Fall 2020 working on a strawberry grey mold project along with plant pathologist, Dr. Lydia Tymon. She will focus on double cropping with lettuce and the comparison of plastic mulches and biodegradable mulches on the epidemiology of grey mold.



Dakota McFadden, PhD Candidate

Dakota was born and raised in the heart of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. He tapped into his passion for horticulture during his sophomore year of college at WSU when he decided to pursue a degree in Landscape, Nursery and Greenhouse Management. During his undergraduate experience Dakota became very involved in extracurriculars such as research opportunities, teaching assistantships and Horticulture Club. Upon graduating from WSU Pullman in 2019 with his BS in Integrated Plant Sciences, Dakota pursued work managing recreational cannabis (i502) operations in northwestern Washington State. Dakota will start his PhD studies with Dr. Lisa DeVetter’s Small Fruit Horticulture lab in the Fall of 2021 and will be researching Biodegradable Composite Hydromulches for Sustainable Organic Horticulture. In his free time, Dakota enjoys caring for his houseplants, spending time with his cats, DJing electronic music, kayaking and exploring the great outdoors.


Kayla Brouwer, MS Student

Kayla was born and raised in Northern Colorado. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Dordt University where, while living in Northwest Iowa, she found her passion for agriculture and ecology. She relocated to Lynden, Washington in 2019 where she began working in the raspberry industry helping to produce tissue culture grade raspberry plants for growers in the Pacific NW and Southern BC. She will begin her MS degree program with Dr. Lisa DeVetter in the Spring of 2022 and will be working to better understand the pollination of high bush blueberries and the effects of pesticide on pollinators and colony placement.


Email: TBD

Sam Chronert, MSAG Student

Sam is from San Francisco, California, where the focus on environmentalism sparked his interest in sustainable agriculture. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2018 with a double major in Biology and Medicine, Health, and Society, Sam spent a year working on an aquaponics farm for a non-profit in the Bahamas. In August 2019, Sam went to work for Plenty, a vertical farming startup, where he is now a Grower helping to manage the production of various leafy green crops. Sam began his MS in Plant Health Management in August 2020, and is excited to continue to learn more about all things plants!


Amy Cardenas, MSAG Student

Amy was born and raised in Oxnard, CA, a small city in Southern California, that is widely known for agriculture, and more specifically for strawberry production.  She obtained her BS in Plant Science from California Polytechnic University, Pomona.  Shortly after completing her undergrad program, Amy began her career with Driscoll’s Inc. as a part of the applied research team.  Her day-to-day work consists of genetic deployment research, production system innovation, and whole lot of data analysis on blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries research trials.  Amy began her MS degree program in Summer 2019 and is studying the occurrences and influencers of malformations in strawberry fruits.

Agricultural/Scientific Workers

Emma Rogers

Emma is originally from Colorado, but has fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Bellingham, WA. After graduating from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, she continued to pursue a graduate certificate in Data Science which will wrap up Spring of 2021. With a love of the natural world and a deep interest in ecology and the relationships of living organisms, she is excited to get her feet wet in a new field and explore what small fruit horticulture is all about. She is passionate about research is thrilled to be helping out for the season.

Rachael Schick

Rachael is from Anchorage, Alaska and moved to Bellingham, WA to attend Western Washington University. She will graduate in June 2021 with a BS in Environmental Science and a minor in Geology. She grew up helping her mother in the garden and now tends a small herb garden at home. She has developed a love of agriculture over the last few years of college and is eager to learn more about agricultural research. In her free time, Rachael enjoys skiing, rowing, hiking, and knitting.

Former Students and Scholars

Maxime Eeraerts, Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Maxime EeraertsDr. Maxime Eeraerts was born and raised in Belgium, the heart of Europe. At Ghent University he obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree of Bioscience Engineering in Forest and Nature Management in 2013 and a Master’s degree in Environmental Sanitation and Environmental Management in 2014. Afterwards Maxime worked on multiple projects about applied entomology in fruit cultivation, landscape ecology and ecotoxicological studies focused on wild bees. In 2020, Maxime obtained a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences at Ghent University. During his PhD project he studied how landscape structure and the diversity of pollinating insects mediate crop pollination in sweet cherry orchards. Maxime will join the team of Dr. DeVetter at WSU in February 2021 and his research will focus on improving the use of honey bees and wild pollinators to enhance blueberry pollination and yield. Maxime is fascinated by the outdoors, likes to cook, plant trees and grow shiitake mushrooms on oak logs in the forest.

Qianwen Lu, PhD Candidate

Qianwen is from Nanjing, China, a charming metropolitan full of history and culture as well as modern arts. She achieved her BS in Forest Science from Nanjing Forestry University and participated in a one-year visiting student program at the University of Georgia. Her research interests are maintenance of soil health and remediation of contaminated soil and water. She will began her graduate work with Drs. Lisa DeVetter and Haiying Tao in the Fall of 2018. The focus of her research is nutrient management practices in raspberry and blueberry and impacts on plant productivity, fruit quality, and soil health.


Yixin Cai, MS Student

Yixin is from Shanghai, China, a vibrant metropolis full of traditional and modern architecture. She received her BS degrees in Genetics and Plant Biology (GPB) and Molecular Toxicology from University of California, Berkeley. She worked in botanical garden and USDA laboratory in her senior year and found her interest in horticulture. Yixin graduated from the program in 2020 and recently started her PhD research at the University of Maryland. The focus of her MS research was on testing practices and harvest technologies that allow for the mechanical harvest of fresh market blueberry with high fruit quality and high harvest efficiency.

Huan Zhang, PhD

Huan is from Xi’an, the most historical city in China. Not too many people know this city, but they definitely know the Terra-Cotta Warriors at his hometown. Huan attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University and received his B.S. in Horticulture. He has been in horticulture fields for many years and worked for agronomy and plant pathology laboratories during his junior and senior years. However, he gradually realized that his real interest is in field fruit and vegetable production. For Huan’s PhD, Huan studied application of biodegradable and non-biodegradable mulches in red raspberry. He also collaborated with Dr. Miles in Vegetable Horticulture on biodegradable mulch application and adhesion in pumpkin. Huan graduated in 2020 and now works at Costa  as a Pest and Disease Manager.

Weixin Gan, MS Student

Weixin comes from Fujian, China, a place with green hills and clear waters and is famous for tea.  She finished her B.S in landscape architecture from Beijing Forestry University.  Her undergraduate thesis was about the growth conditions and cultivation management of tissue culture seedings of crabapple.  Having a strong interest in horticulture, she decided to study horticulture more deeply at WSU.  She began her graduate work at WSU with Dr. Lisa Wasko DeVetter in the fall of 2017.  The focus of her research was evaluating in-field practices that have potential to improve pollination and yields in highbush blueberry grown in western Washington, including pheromone application and modified honey bee hive densities. She also studied how temperature impacts pollen germination and vigor among key commercial highbush blueberry cultivars.  Weixin graduated summer 2019.


Amit Bhasin, MS Student

Amit comes from the “Agricultural Hub of India”, Punjab.  He did his B.S. Agriculture majoring in Horticulture (2017) from Punjab Agricultural University, India.  His inclination towards agriculture started at a young age while planting vegetables with his grandfather.  Amit’s curiosity to explore and learn more about this arena led him to pursue a M.S at WSU.  In Amit’s free time, he loves to play Badminton.  His research focuses on evaluating and optimizing fertilizer sources/rates and nitrogen cut-off times in organic blueberry production in central Washington.  Amit’s advisors are Drs. Lisa DeVetter and Joan Davenport. Amit graduated in Fall 2019 and his research is still ongoing.


Nadia Bostan, Visiting Scholar

Nadia belongs to Swat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pakistan known as the “Switzerland of Asia”.  She received her MS (Hons) in Horticulture in 2013 from the University of Agriculture Peshawar. Nadia has a strong agricultural family background and enjoyed a rich work experience in diverse livelihood sectors in Pakistan by working in the capacity as a Horticulturist, Field Facilitator, Trainer of Trainers and Enterprise Development Officer. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD degree in Horticulture from the University of Agriculture Peshawar and conducts her research at the Agriculture Research Institute Swat. Nadia continues her studies and research while serving the country as a Research Officer at the Agriculture Research Institute Swat. Her area of interest is developing production technologies for small fruit crops to cope with climate extremes. Her PhD work focuses on studying the effects of plant growth regulators (PGR), fertilizer application, and chilling levels under various shading intensities and shade net colors on fruit quality and runner production in strawberry.

Rachel Rudolph

Rachel Rudolph, PhD

Rachel is a former PhD student co-advised by Drs. DeVetter and Zasada (USDA ARS).  Her thesis work is titled, “Soil quality and management alternatives in red raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) in the Pacific Northwest”. Rachel graduated in December 2017 and is now an Assistant Extension Professor at the University of Kentucky.

Matthew ArringtonMatthew Arrington, PhD

Matt graduated from the SFH program with his PhD in December 2017.  His thesis title is, “Optimization of pollination and fruit set in northern highbush blueberry.” Matt now faculty at Brigham Young University and leads a research and teaching program there.

VIDEO! Watch a video about Matt and his experiences at WSU-Mount Vernon.