Kate Evans
Kate Evans

Washington State University professor and horticulturalist Kate Evans has been selected as the interim director of the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, according to a news release.

Evans replaces outgoing director Jim McFerson and will begin her term as interim director on August 26.

McFerson led the program for nearly four years.

Evans earned a doctorate in plant molecular biology from Durham University, United Kingdom, and has been a WSU faculty member since 2008. She is currently a professor in the department of horticulture, part of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), and leads WSU’s pome fruit breeding program, developing improved apple scions and pear rootstocks.

“With almost three decades of experience managing agricultural research that puts better varieties in growers’ hands, Kate has clearly demonstrated her ability to share and deliver the kind of valuable knowledge that’s at the core of the WSU Tree Fruit mission,” said André Denis Wright, dean of CAHNRS. “She understands the needs and challenges that our growers face, and has the scientific and leadership abilities to direct the tree fruit research team as they work to support Northwest producers.”

Evans took over from retired WSU apple breeder Bruce Barritt for the final stages of selection and release of WA 38, the new apple variety to become commercially available this fall under the brand name Cosmic Crisp.

“The Pacific Northwest fruit industry is one of the largest in the world, and our growers depend on WSU research for better plants, practices and ideas,” Evans said. “As a scientist, it’s been exciting for me to help breed new varieties ideally suited for our growing conditions, market needs and consumer preferences. Now, as interim center director, I’ll support WSU research that boosts the health and potential of our fruit economy.”

—by Jonelle Mejica