Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center

Vegetable Research and Extension

Photo collage of watermelon tasting, tractor, dry beans

About Us

Program Leader

Photo of Carol Miles

Dr. Carol Miles has diverse international experiences both growing up and in her early career where she has lived in subsistence agriculture communities in places such as Panama, Afghanistan, Cameroun, Malawi and Tanzania. Carol received her B.S. (1983) in Bio-Agricultural Science from Colorado State University, and her M.S. (1989) and Ph.D. (1993) in Vegetable Crops from the Department of Fruit and Vegetable Science at Cornell University. Carol’s goal has been to work with farmers to create sustainable production systems which provide a source of well-being to both the family and the community.

Program Technical Staff

Photo of Ed Scheenstra

Ed Scheenstra grew up in eastern washington, living on farms in both the yakima valley and the tri-cities area.  After obtaining his B.S. in Environmental Science in 1999, he spent 4 years working with the Weed Science Dept. and USDA-ARS in Pullman, WA.  Ed has lived in the Mount Vernon area since 2004 and is excited to be back with WSU as a part of the Vegetable Horticulture team.

Photo of Jacky King

Jacqueline King grew up in Alaska, earned a BA at the University of Alaska and an MA in English Language at Indiana University before discovering the wonders of fruit horticulture as an orchard volunteer in Israel 1971-77. Since 1979 she has worked at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC as a technical assistant in Fruit Horticulture, first for Dr. Bob Norton and then for Gary Moulton. In 2007 she began working for Dr. Carol Miles in the Vegetable Horticulture program, and now helps with report and grant writing, bulletin editing and submission, revising web pages, photography and graphics, and other project assistance.

Program Graduate Students

Current and Completed

Photo of Kelly Atterberry

Kelly Ann Atterberry was born and raised in Anacortes, Washington. Kelly studied Herbal Science at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and received her B.S. in 2011. Her M.S. project will focus on educating K–12 students regarding the nutrition of pulse crops and promoting dry bean consumption.

Photo of Fairuz Buajaila

Fairuz Buajaila was born and raised in Al Beida, Libya. She received her B.S. in 2003 in Agricultural Sciences from the Horticulture Department at Omar AL Mukhtar University in Al Beida. She obtained her M.S. in Horticulture in 2008 from the same university, and her project was Effect of Organic and Inorganic Nitrogen Fertilizer on Growth, Yield and Quality of Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.). Fairuz’s Ph.D. project will focus on tomato production under high tunnels and will test application rates and timing of different types of fertilizer.

Photo of Sahar Dabirian

Sahar Dabirian was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. Sahar studied Agricultural Extension and Education at University of Tehran and received her B.S in 2006 and M.S in 2009. Her masters research was focused on “Investigation and Analysis of Factors Affecting and Explaining Job Performance of Agricultural Extension Experts”. During her graduate studies at WSU she will perform research on vegetable grafting with Dr. Carol Miles.

Photo of Shuresh Ghimire

Shuresh Ghimire was born and grew up in a rural farming family in Rupandehi, Nepal. He completed his B.S. in Agriculture in 2009 and his M.S. in Horticulture in 2012 from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He is on leave from his position as a Horticulture Development Officer in the Nepal Department of Agriculture, while he is a Ph.D. student. His Ph.D. project will focus on Effect of Biodegradable Plastic Mulches on Pumpkin Production and Quality, and to investigate mulch degradation in the field over time.

Photo of Charlene Grahn

Charlene Grahn grew up in the Pine Barrens of Central New Jersey and in 2011 earned her B.A. in Biology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. She has worked on various projects at botanical gardens, small-scale organic farms, and ornamental plant nurseries. She spent several years selling local produce through farmer’s markets and food co-ops in New Jersey. Her passion for growing and increasing access to sustainably produced food brought her to WSU NWREC’s Vegetable Horticulture program. Her project with Carol Miles focuses on improving the production and sales of leafy greens for direct-market farmers in Washington State.

Photo of Jesse Wimer

Jesse Wimer was born and raised in Moscow, Idaho. He received a B.A. in history from the University of Idaho (2008). Jesse is an M.S. student in the Department of Horticulture with Dr. Carol Miles. His project involves grafting watermelon onto disease resistant rootstocks. A primary research objective is to determine the optimal healing regime for successful watermelon grafting. A second objective is to determine which rootstocks demonstrate the highest degrees of resistance to soil-borne diseases, specifically Verticillium wilt. Soil-borne diseases are becoming increasingly problematic for the state’s watermelon growers due to the phasing out of soil fumigation, making new and sustainable methods of disease control (such as grafting) more lucrative and viable. Lastly, Jesse will be looking into the potential of watermelon grafting as an up-and-coming economic enterprise for the state of Washington.


Jeremy Cowan. Ph.D. 2010–2013 (Committee chair). The Use of Biodegradable Mulch for Tomato and Broccoli Production: Crop Yield and Quality, Mulch Deterioration, and Grower’s Perceptions.

Sacha Johnson. M.S. 2010–2012 (Committee chair). Grafting Eggplant, Tomato, and Watermelon to Manage Verticillium Wilt Caused by Verticillium Dahliae.

Callie Bolton. M.S. 2009–2011 (Committee co-chair). Organic weed control in a newly established vineyard.

Holly Ingle. M.S. 2008–2010 (Committee member). The effect of environment and management on yield and NO3-N concentrations in organically managed leafy greens.

Jamie Cummings. M.S. 2006–2007 (Committee member). Evaluation of seed and drench treatments for management of damping-off and seedling blight pathogens of spinach for organic production.

Kristy Ott. M.S. 2006–2007 (Committee member). Impacts of winter growing conditions on yield and nitrate accumulation in organically produced leafy greens.

Jennifer Wagner. M.S. 2004–2006 (Committee Chair). Heirloom-niche market dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) as an alternative crop for small-scale farmers.

Vincent Mwale, M.S. Bunda College of Agriculture, Malawi, 2004-2006 (Committee member). Performance and stability of advanced bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) lines under two systems of on-farm evaluation in thee bean agro-ecological zones of Malawi.

Program Office and Field Staff

Photo of Carolyn Klismith

Carolyn Klismith is a Wisconsin farm girl who went urban to attain a BFA in Modern Dance, living and performing in San Francisco. She moved to Washington State in 2008 and came back to her farm roots, starting in 2010 with Dr. Carol Miles at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC. Carolyn’s work as a field and greenhouse technician includes seeding, crop planting, maintenance, harvesting, and data collection in support of graduate student projects.

Photo of Patti Kreider

Patti Kreider moved to Washington State in 2006 from California. Always a home gardener, she jumped at the opportunity to work on a vegetable grafting project for Carol Miles at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC in spring 2009. Patti’s work is focused on grafting of tomatoes, watermelons and eggplants, with a primary focus of resistance to Verticillium wilt.

Photo of Chrys Ostrander

Chrys Ostrander raises dairy goats and laying hens, and gardens at his home in eastern Washington where he has lived since 1990. Active in sustainable agriculture circles, he learned to do web design in the '90's working on Tilth Producers' first website. He provides web services for clients and for WSU Extension as a part-time employee. He earned his Permaculture Design Certificate in 2012 and enjoys teaching organic gardening, cheese-making, goat husbandry and permaculture.

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WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, 16650 State Route 536, Mount Vernon, WA 98273-4768 USA, 360-848-6150, FAX 360-848-6159, Contact Us