Lisa 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.
Twitter: Lisa DeVetter@WSU_SmallFruits
Brian Maupin grew up in the Skagit Valley and is a graduate of Mount Vernon High School. He attended Washington State University and earned a BS in Integrated pest management. Brian worked for 3 years at WSU-Long Beach Cranberry Research Unit where he assisted in trials on cranberry pollinators and pests. Brian then worked at WSU- Mount Vernon NWREC in the Weed Science Program. In 2004 Brian moved to Alaska and worked for Soil and Water Conservation Districts as an invasive plant program coordinator. Fifteen years later Brian moved back to the Skagit Valley and returned to the NWREC and is pleased to be working for the Small Fruit Horticulture Program.
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. With a love of the natural world and a deep interest in ecology and the relationships of living organisms, she is thrilled to support the Small Fruit Lab and explore what horticulture has to offer. She has developed a new found interest in pollination and works heavily on the blueberry pollination projects within the lab. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, birdwatching, fly fishing, yoga, playing music, and road trips around the beautiful PNW.
Heather MacKay has lived in Lynden, WA with her family since 2005. She grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe before moving to South Africa to complete her college education. Heather has a BSc in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Rhodes University, South Africa, and a PhD in Physical Oceanography from the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Heather’s career has been mostly in the public sector, working as a water and environmental policy specialist. She served for several years as Senior Specialist Scientist in the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry focusing on development of water quality standards, national water policy and water law. Heather was then appointed to the Water Research Commission of South Africa where she managed national portfolios related to water policy, water law and governance, institutional development and environmental water requirements. She chaired the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands from 2005 to 2012, and concurrently was a member of the Panel’s international working group on water resources and river basin management. Heather’s local work in Washington State has focused on water management and agriculture in Whatcom County, helping farmers and planners find ways to protect and enhance both working farmlands and water resources. Heather joined the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC in November 2019, and currently serves as the Project Manager for two grants from the USDA NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative: ‘Stop the rot: Combating onion bacterial diseases with pathogenomic tools and enhanced management strategies’, and ‘Improving end-of-life management of plastic mulch in strawberry systems’. In her spare time, Heather enjoys hiking, sailing the coastal waters with her family, and exploring local trails with her horse.
Postdoctoral Research Scholars
Givemore Munashe Makonya
Munashe was born and grew up in Masvingo, a Province on the south-eastern part Zimbabwe. He has a BSc in Horticultural Science and an MSc in Crop Science, both from the Midlands State University in Zimbabwe. He then proceeded to join the Department of Biological Science at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa in 2016 as a PhD candidate. His Ph.D study identified physiological and biochemical markers for heat and drought tolerance and regulation of heat stress proteins for chickpea (Cicer arietinum) production in NE South Africa. Currently he is a postdoctoral fellow in the Plant Stress Lab at UCT working on Molecular and Physiological approaches to drought tolerance in Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.). Munashe will join the labs of Drs. DeVetter and Peters at WSU in January 2023 to; Examine the physiological and genetic mechanisms that contribute to red raspberry’s heat tolerance across cultivars and advanced selections as well as to evaluate the impacts and cost-benefits of heat mitigation technologies across several cultivars and promising selections.
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.
Ben Weiss, MS Student
Ben is from Philadelphia and has been interested in food systems since an early age. He attended his first natural products expo before kindergarten because his parents worked in the natural foods industry. During late adolescence, he started a prolific tomato garden that blossomed into a B.Sc. in Horticulture from Temple University (TU) in 2019. He interned at the Rodale Institute and then worked at an organic farm in New Jersey as the lead rice cultivator. At this farm he had the opportunity to help problem solve through research, leading him to pursue graduate studies and extension work. He is passionate about sustainable technologies, closed loop agriculture, and urban farming. Ben is ecstatic to begin his MS degree program with Dr. Lisa DeVetter in Spring of 2023. He will be helping to develop hydromulch technologies aimed at saving farmers money and creating a biodegradable closed loop mulching system for berry crops.
Salena Helmreich, PhD Student
Nayab Gull, PhD Student
Nayab originally hails from Punjab, Pakistan. She holds a master’s degree in Crop Cultivation and Farming Systems from China Agricultural University. She studied the effects of microplastic pollution in agroecosystems which developed her interest in soil plant interactions and global change factors. Pursuing her interests, Nayab has joined WSU as a Ph.D. student in the Soil Science and Agronomy program co-advised by Dr. Deirdre Griffin LaHue and Dr. Lisa Wasko DeVetter. She is working on an interdisciplinary project and her research focuses on the impacts of soil-biodegradable plastic mulches on soil health and horticultural outcomes in strawberry systems.
Aidan Williams, MS Student
Aidan grew up in Portland, OR, where urban gardens, goats and chickens captivated her. After moving to rural Ridgefield, WA, her name was drawn in a raffle to work for the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) in the summer of 2016, which sparked a fascination in restoration, ecology, and indigenous knowledge. After obtaining an A.S. degree from Clark College in 2021, she became the first restoration intern for the Guys Gulch Ecological Reserve in CA, where she became passionate about botany, fire ecology, closed loop living and holistic ecological restoration. In summer of 2022, she participated in Western Washington University’s (WWU) Salish Sea field school. During this trip she camped, backpacked, canoed, and kayaked all while learning about ethnobotany, pacific northwest history, and indigenous resource management. She graduated from WWU in winter of 2023 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecology. She is now a timeslip employee and is delighted to start an M.S. degree program in fall of 2023 with Dr. Lisa DeVetter focusing on biobased mulch and outreach for organic small fruit systems.
Laura Webb, MSAG Student
Laura Webb grew up in Houston, Texas and completed a B.Ag. in Horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) in Nacogdoches. Her interest in horticulture began while working at a small nursery while attending high school. At SFA, she enjoyed the extensive campus gardens and became a student worker at the Piney Woods Native Plant Center where she helped with the children’s educational outreach program and maintenance of the children’s garden. Since graduating Laura has worked at The Arbor Gate, a distinguished Houston-area retail plant nursery, completing landscape designs as well as advising customers on plant disease and insect control. While at The Arbor Gate, the region has experienced historic flooding, drought, freezes, and heat, providing unique learning opportunities and increasing Laura’s interest in evolving plant care practices in a changing climate. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge through the MS degree program at WSU with Dr. Lisa DeVetter in the Spring of 2023.
Nataliya, originally from Ukraine, completed her Ph.D in the horticulture department at WSU, where her research focused on studying water movement in grapevines. Currently, she holds a position as a Postdoc/Project Manager for the HiRes Vineyard Nutrition project and also works as a Communications Specialist for the project aimed at improving the end-of-life management of plastic mulch in strawberry systems. Nataliya has a deep love for plants and animals, and she always finds time to care for her indoor plants and spend quality time with her bunny. She enjoys listening to audiobooks, which keeps her engaged and entertained. Nataliya has a keen interest in health, particularly in adopting a plant-based lifestyle and maintaining fitness with a focus on powerlifting. She values overall well-being, self-improvement, leadership, and management, always striving to enhance herself in these areas. Nataliya firmly believes in the power of collaboration, often stating, “If you can do it by yourself, then it’s not challenging enough.”
Margaret (Maggie) McGlothern
Maggie McGlothern will be a senior this fall at Washington State University. She is majoring in food science and minoring in viticulture and enology. In her free time she likes to cook, read and hang out with friends. Maggie will be working on the CAHNRS “Beat the Heat” internship this summer with raspberry and mentors Lisa DeVetter, Maria Zamora and Chris Benedict.
Adriana graduated with a degree in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Colorado. After participating in W̱SÁNEĆ-led ecological restoration, they were inspired to return to school for a certificate in Environmental Studies. They are excited to learn more about the plants, wild bees, and ecology within Coast Salish Terriorty. Adriana is a proud aunt to their nephew. Their favorite wildflower at the moment is Sea-thrift, Armeria maritima, and observing the sweat bees that frequent the flowers.
Alexandre Dias Da Silva
Alexandre is from Brazil and grew up helping his parents produce fruits and vegetables on a small farm in Santo Antônio do Jacinto town, Vale do Jequitinhonha. After graduating high school, he attended an Agricultural Technician course and then completed his B.S. in Agronomy at the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) in 2017. During this time, he participated in an undergraduate exchange program in Spain. His M.S. degree was also obtained at UFLA with a specialization in Horticulture and focus on tropical and subtropical fruits. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. degree in Horticulture at UFLA. His research emphasis is the innovative production of berries in tropical lands. Alexandre will join the Small Fruit Horticulture team in June 2022 and his research will focus on understanding the timing of calcium accumulation in raspberries to better inform calcium fertilizer programs. Alexandre likes to work in a team setting and will be a welcomed addition to the Small Fruit Horticulture program.
Former Students and Scholars
Maxime Eeraerts, Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Dr. 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.
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!
Hello, my name is Will Bieker. I will be a senior this fall at Western Washington University, where I am studying ecology, evolution, and organismal biology. I will be working with Lisa DeVetter on raspberry color analysis. Some of my favorite things to do are foraging for mushrooms, backpacking with my dogs, and sailing.
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.
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.
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 completed her MS degree in Dec. 2021 in DeVetter’s program. Her thesis research focused on biodegradable plastic mulches in small fruit production with an emphasis on evaluating compounds that had the potential to enhance degradation and understanding risk and uncertainty during the adoption of polyethylene and biodegradable plastic mulches among raspberry growers. Brenda also studied planting density in plasticulture-based June-bearing strawberry systems. 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.
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, 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 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.