Science in Our Valley Spring 2020 Series Announced

Published On: January 27th, 2020|Categories: News, Professional Development News, Program News|
Science in Our Valley Spring 2020 Series Announced

The Spring 2020 Science in Our Valley seminar series kicks off on February 5th featuring the research of WSU Center for Impact economist, Dr. Tim Nadreau.  Dr. Nadreau has done research on the projected impact of automation in agricultural practices on the local labor and workforce needs in the near future.

The science seminars are free to attend, open to the community, and great opportunity to learn about the incredible research in our own backyard. The content is intended for a ‘science-based’ audience, including researchers, postdoctoral scientists, graduate students, undergraduate scientists, K-12 educators and science enthusiasts. This spring’s line-up is quite diverse, and features topics from: reproductive health, forestry and environment, technology in agriculture, and even native bees.

The full list of presenters and details can be found:

K-12 Educators are also encouraged to attend the seminars to learn about local career connections and research efforts that they can bring back to their students. Ten STEM clock hours are available through the North Central Educational Service District for educators who attend the series. Educators can register for clock-hours here:

The Science in Our Valley seminar series began in October 2017 as a way for local scientists and science educators to bring their research to the community and as a way to engage and connect with one another. The series features presentations by local scientists and science educators as well as guests from outside the region.

Host organizations include the Apple STEM Network, the North Central Educational Service District, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Station, WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center, Wenatchee Valley College and the Bridge Research and Innovation District.

All events are open to the public, and run from 4 to 5 p.m. and will be held at the WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center on Wednesdays from 4-5 P.M. (1100 N. Western Ave., Wenatchee).

Dr. Nadreau’s seminar, “Tree Fruit Automation and the Regional Labor Market,” will begin at 4 p.m. at the WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center. As almost anyone in north central Washington can observe, automation and robotics have been moving in on the local tree fruit operations. Across the nation, and right here in our own backyard, the industry is changing the way tree fruit laborers are utilized in everyday operations, from harvest, to packing and inspection, to distribution. Dr. Nadreau’s research evaluated the projected timelines and relative impacts of this transformation on the tree fruit agricultural workforce in North Central Washington.

Other speakers in the series include:

2/12/2020          Sarah Kostick    Graduate Student, WSU-Tree Fruit Research & Extension

“Enabling more efficient development of fire blight resistant apple varieties”             

Fire blight, an economically damaging bacterial disease that impacts Washington apple production, is currently partially controlled through chemical applications. Breeding resistant apple varieties offers a potential sustainable, long-term solution. This presentation will cover (1) phenotypic evaluation of resistance/susceptibility to fire blight in apple, (2) discovery of genetic regions associated with observed resistance levels, and (3) how this information can be used to more efficiently develop new apple varieties resistant to fire blight.

2/19/2020          Dr. Audrey Huerta, Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Geology, Central Washington University

“Geology of Antarctica: Hot Science on a cold Continent”

Professor Huerta has been studying the Geology of Antarctica for the past 15 years. Her primary interests is understanding the Geologic Evolution of the southern-most continent. More recently, the potential sea-level rise from the loss of the Antarctic Ice Sheets has motivated Dr. Huerta to study the impact of the geology of Antarctica on the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheets. In this talk, Prof Huerta will discuss the results of the 10-year international project POLENET, and share the challenges and rewards of Antarctic field work.

2/26/2020          Dr. Jenny Bolivar-Medina, Tree Fruit Specialist, WSU-Tree Fruit Research & Extension

From Cranberries to Tree fruits: a fruitful plant science path

Native from Colombia, my academic formation has been related to the study of plants from physiological and genetic perspectives. I have had the opportunity to live in Puerto Rico and then in Madison, Wisconsin to complete my master and PhD studies, respectively. In cranberry, little was known about the formation and differentiation of reproductive buds, especially from varieties recently released. Thus, my studies not only contributed to basic science, but to highlight how the management of the current crop will affect the following one. Now in my position as tree fruit specialist, I will use my experience in plant sciences in order to make the knowledge and technologies produced at the TFREC, accessible to the apple, pear and cherry producers. I will transfer technologies specially related to rootstocks and environmental stress aspects. During this talk, I will share my path through plant sciences as well as my main goals in my extension program.

3/4/2020            Adrian Marshall, Doctoral Candidate, WSU-Tree Fruit Research & Extension

“Netting Applications for Insect Management in Apple Orchards”         

Washington orchardists have begun employing shade netting structures to protect their fruit from sunburn. Certain shade netting structures can create a barrier to insect pests, such as codling moth and stink bugs in apple orchards. We conducted field trials to test the ability of commercial shade netting to prevent codling moth and stink bug damage at the WSU research orchard and commercial apple blocks in Manson, WA. These trials indicated that direct pest densities and damage were lower in netted plots than in the conventional plots and the untreated plots. However, non-target effects were apparent and need to be carefully considered in future management programs.

3/11/2020          Dr. Claudio O. Stockle    WSU Professor and Department Chair, Biological Systems Engineering, WSU

“Technology for trade: new tools and new rules for water use efficiency in agriculture and beyond”

Dr. Claudio Stöckle’s research is in the Land, Air, Water Resources and Environmental Engineering (LAWREE) research emphasis area. His focus is on the development and application of analytical tools to study, understand and manage the interaction between soil, weather, and crops. He is particularly interested in modeling the environmental impact of agricultural production at the field and water shed levels and in further enhancement and support of the Agricultural Crop Systems Modeling Software (CROPSYST) he developed.

4/8/2020            Dr. Jessica Waite, Postdoctoral Researcher, WSU-Tree Fruit Research & Extension

“Physiological and molecular changes associated with acclimation to heat stress in apple fruit”

Extreme climate events, such as heatwaves and freezes, can have large negative impacts on fruit production. Sunburn, a physiological skin disorder caused by heat and light stress, causes loss of up to 10% of Washington state apple crops. Current prevention methods include evaporative cooling, shade netting, or protectant sprays, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. We are interested in understanding the physiology and molecular mechanisms underlying sunburn and plant fruit acclimation to heat, so that we can improve the use of tools to avoid sun injury. Here I’ll talk about experiments designed to study apple fruit acclimation to high heat and light stresses experienced during a typical growing season, with the goal of informing and developing strategies to minimize losses due to sunburn.

4/15/2020          Dr. Don Rolfs, Lifelong Naturalist, Retired Periodontist, Community Member

“Native Bees of Washington State”

Formally trained in Native Bee biology, Dr. Don Rolfs has, for more than a decade, focused his field work, laboratory work and photographic skills on the 600+ species of Native Bees of Washington State. While Honey Bees have a place in agriculture, it is our Native Bees who are the primary pollinators, responsible for the flowers of our mountain meadows and remote wild places. Dr. Rolfs’ profusely illustrated lecture is an introduction to the variety and to the stunning beauty of these essential pollinators.

4/22/2020          Dr. April Binder, Professor, CWU

“Estrogen, Testosterone and Fats, Oh My!”

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a leading cause of infertility in women of reproductive age. It is a hormonal disorder characterized by increased testosterone in women and is often associated with metabolic dysfunction. In the Binder lab, we study how altered concentrations of estrogen and testosterone affect the ovary and fat tissues, which may contribute to the symptoms observed in PCOS. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of what is happening within specific tissues that could lead to improved treatments in the future.

4/29/2020          Dr. Tara Barrett, Research Forester, USDA Forest Service

“Forest at the fringes: projecting climate-related tree species shifts in western forests”           

Climate is changing, and that is altering which tree species can grow where. But predicting how habitat for different species will alter in future decades is complicated given uncertainty in both future climate and imperfect knowledge about impacts on disturbance, competition, migration, and basic biophysical processes. This talk focuses on a research project that combines modelling (to predict current and future tree species habitat) and forest inventory data (to monitor how tree species are currently changing).



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Science in Our Valley Spring 2020 Series Announced