Dr. James Susaimuthu, program manager of the Fruit Tree Clean Plant Center at Prosser, Washington, attended ­­college in India before coming to the United States and graduating with a doctorate in plant virology from the ­University of Arkansas.

In his role at the Fruit Tree Network, he sees opportunity to use his research skills in solving industry problems. Though he is familiar with working in laboratory environments, he looks forward to addressing real-world problems, incorporating new technology that will help growers.

While working on his doctorate in Arkansas, he discovered two new blackberry viruses and developed tests that identified the viruses. He worked with viruses as part of Cornell University’s clean seed production program for New York State. Prior to joining the Fruit Tree Center, he worked at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, a nonprofit institute in Oklahoma that conducts plant science research.

“I want to have the perspective of seeing how research gets translated from the laboratory to industry,” he said. “That’s the most interesting part—to see the connection with the end user, the people who will have direct benefit. You don’t have that connection when you’re contained in a laboratory environment.”