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.

Program Graduate Students


Photo of Alex Cornwall

Alex Cornwall is a lifelong native of Western Washington and being surrounded by such a lush environment, he developed a great love of plants and nature. He graduated from Washington State University in 2010 with a BS in Environmental Horticulture and joined the USDA-ARS Plant Introduction Unit in Pullman in 2011 as the Field Technician for the Horticultural Crops Program regenerating the highly diverse collection under the direction of the curator, Barbara Hellier. He has worked with the USDA for the last 10 years and will begin his studies in a PhD in horticulture in conjunction with his work in the fall of 2020 with major advisor Dr. Carol Miles. His project will be identifying Lactuca sp. with genetic barcoding and taxonomy and gene exploration of wild relatives of Lactuca sativa. Alex’s personal interests include running, botanical illustration and the fine art of cheese making.

Photo of Pinki Devi

Pinki Devi was born and raised in the Sibsagar District of the Assam State in northeast India. Pinki completed her B.S. in Life Science from the University of Delhi, India in 2008. She obtained her M.S. in Biotechnology from Bangalore University, India in 2010. Her doctorate work will focus on investigating propagation methods to increase the grafting success of watermelon, which will include screening potential rootstock for watermelon grafting.

Photo of Aiden Kendall

Aiden Kendall is from Holderness, New Hampshire and has been working on farms and orchards since 2009. He graduated from the University of Montana in 2017, where he discovered his enthusiasm for sustainable agriculture. Aidan recently spent a season at the Western Agricultural Research Center in Corvallis, MT helping with several ongoing research projects including apple bloom phenology modeling. He has decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Horticulture in the fall of 2020 to continue to perform resource conservation research and will be studying regulated deficit irrigation and the effects of mechanical hedging in cider apples.

Photo of Srijana Shrestha

Srijana Shrestha was born and raised in the Lamjung district in Nepal. She completed her B.S. in Agriculture in 2018 from the Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal. She worked for one year as a project officer in Biodiversity and Resource Management for Sustainable Food Security in Mountain Community Project with the Nepal Group of Helping Hands, in the very remote Dailekh district of Nepal. She joined the Vegetable Horticulture program at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC in Spring 2020 and is an MS student. Her project will focus on developing educational materials for biodegradable plastic mulch.


Travis Alexander. PhD 2015-2018 Advancing Washington state cider apple production through a branch-to-bottle assessment of mechanized harvest and a comparison of regional juice quality.

Abigail Attavar. M.S. 2017–2019 (Committee chair). Grafting as a management practice for Verticillium wilt: Evaluating Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae rootstocks for resistance.

Kelly Atterberry. M.S. 2013–2015 (Committee chair). Nutrition education and school garden projects with K-12 students to promote consumption of dry beans. 

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

Fairuz Boujaila. Ph.D. 2016–2018 (Committee chair). Tomato production under high tunnels; application rates and timing of different types of fertilizer.

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.

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.

Sahar Dabirian. M.S. 2015–2017 (Committee chair). Optimizing watermelon grafting to control Verticillium wilt in Washington.

Whitney Garton. M.S. 2015-2017 (Committee chair). Apple anthracnose canker control in cider apple orchards in western Washington.

Shuresh Ghimire. Ph.D. 2015–2018 (Committee chair). Biodegradable plastic mulch for pumpkin and sweet corn production.

Charlene Grahn. M.S. 2013–2015 (Committee chair). Direct market production of baby-leaf salad greens during spring and fall seasons in Western Washington. 

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.

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

Yao Mu. M.S. 2017-2019 (Committee chair). Identifying bulb fennel cultivars suitable for organic production in NW WA.

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.

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

Robin Taylor, MSAG 2015-2016 (Committee chair). Quantification of food policy groups within the Puget Sound region.

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

Jesse Wimer. M.S. 2013–2015 (Committee chair). Grafting Watermelons to Manage Verticillium Wilt in Washington State.


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 is caretaker at Heartsong, a former retreat center 40 minutes north of Spokane that sometimes hosts permaculture-related educational events. At Heartsong he maintains an 8000 sq. ft. polyculture garden and assists in the implementation of the permaculture design for the property. A resident of Washington since 1990, Chrys is active in food and sustainable agriculture policy development. 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