New extension economist

The comparative costs of organic and conventional apple production is a topic Washington State University Extension economist Mykel Taylor wishes to study.

Dr. Taylor joined WSU, Pullman, in August. She has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management and a master’s degree in applied economics from Montana State University, where she was named the College of Agriculture Outstanding Senior. She recently earned a doctorate in economics from North Carolina State University.

Her fields of interest are agricultural marketing, food safety, consumer demand, and microeconometrics.

Shearer returns to Hood River

Dr. Peter Shearer, formerly an entomologist at Rutgers University, New Jersey, has returned to Oregon State University’s Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hood River as superintendent.

Shearer earned a master’s degree in entomology at OSU and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Hawaii. From 1982 to 1991, he was a research technician at the Hood River center.

As superintendent, he succeeds Clark Seavert, who is now director of OSU’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora.

Shearer is a collaborator in a research project, which is funded by a $2.2-million Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant, that aims to enhance biological control of pests to stabilize integrated pest management. Scientists at Washington State University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are also involved. OSU will study how pesticides affect beneficial insects in pear orchards, while WSU will do the same with apples, and UC-Berkeley with walnuts. USDA in Yakima, Washington, will study codling moth predators.

New WSU wine director

Thomas Henick-Kling, international wine researcher and educator, is the new director of Washington State University’s viticulture and enology program. Henick-Kling, professor of enology and director of the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre at Charles Sturt University in Australia for the last two years, assumes his new responsibilities in March 2009. Before his work in Australia, he was at Cornell University for 20 years where he helped shape New York’s wine industry and develop Cornell’s undergraduate program in enology and viticulture.

Henick-Kling’s research and extension efforts on bacteria starter cultures for malolactic fermentation of wine led to recognition by winemakers that yeast strains have a major impact on final wine flavor profiles. He also headed U.S. education and research efforts about stuck fermentation due to lack of glucose. Most wine laboratories now measure glucose and fructose separately as a result of his work.

He has received national and international honors, including Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008 by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture–Eastern Section, the Wine Industry Research Award in 1994 from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, and he was made an honorary life member in 2002 by the International Association of Enology, Winery Management and Wine Marketing. He earned his Ph.D. at the Australian Wine Research Institute at the University of Adelaide and his master’s in microbiology and food science at Oregon State University.

"Dr. Henick-Kling is a scientist, educator, and advocate of the highest caliber," dean of WSU’s agriculture college Dan Bernardo said in a news release. He is the perfect person to take the WSU program and the wine industry to the next level, he added.