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


Photo of Travis Alexander

Travis Alexander grew up in Southern California, earned a B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego and an M.S. in Horticulture and Agronomy at the University of California, Davis. His masters’ research was focused on chilling injury in peaches for the fresh and canned fruit markets. His doctorate work will focus on the postharvest implications, if any, of introducing mechanization in the harvesting of cider apples. Travis is fluent in English and Spanish and currently working on speaking Russian.

Photo of Abigail Attavar

Abigail Attavar was raised in Bangalore, India. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Chemistry, Botany and Biotechnology from St. Joseph's College, Bangalore. Her MS research project will focus on testing the field germination of Green Leaf and Cos lettuce seeds in cold conditions, in four locations across the US.

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 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 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 Yao Mu

Yao Mu was born and raised in Henan, China. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University in 2016; during this time he spent two semesters at the University of Florida as a transfer student. He has done some research on rosemary tissue culture, focused on improving the carnosic acid yield extracted from the rosemary tissue by changing the conditions of cultivating the tissue. His MS research project will focus on testing new crops for production potential in Northwest Washington.


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.

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.

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.

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 now hosts permaculture educational events. At Heartsong he raises dairy goats, maintains an 8000 sq. ft. garden and assists in the implementation of the permaculture design for the property. A resident of Washington since 1990, Chrys has been 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