A world-renowned plant pathologist has been named director of the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser and assistant dean for the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland.
Naidu Rayapati studies virus diseases in a variety of crops, with an emphasis on wine grapes. He’s worked in vineyards and farmers’ fields to help fight off pathogens that could have massive effect on crops in Washington and around the world.
“I’m very excited about taking on these dual roles, including the new assistant dean position for the Tri-Cities campus,” Rayapati said. “We need to harness scientific and technological innovations, optimize strategic advantages, and maximize opportunities at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) and WSU Tri-Cities campuses.”
He started his new position May 15.
The new assistant dean position will strengthen cross-campus collaborations and university-stakeholder partnerships, enhancing the visibility and impacts of extension and academic programs from College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, or CAHNRS, across Washington state and globally, Rayapati said.
Rayapati also aims to build partnerships with other institutions for advancing the overall land-grant mission of WSU and to actively contribute to WSU’s Drive to 25 initiative.
The initiative’s goal is to position WSU as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities by 2030.
Both the IAREC and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ WSU Wine Science Center in Richland are large components of the WSU Viticulture and Enology program. While serving in his new roles, Rayapati will continue to conduct research in his grape virology program, with support from CAHNRS and his team of research associates, graduate students and technical staff taking on a larger role in successfully running his program.
Rayapati takes over as director of the IAREC from Gary Grove, who will remain director of WSU’s AgWeatherNet.
“We are very appreciative of Gary Grove’s positive and impactful leadership and management of the IAREC along with his successful engagement with our stakeholders and industry,” said Ron Mittelhammer, dean of CAHNRS.
“Rayapati’s research work in grape virology is incredibly important and valuable to the Washington wine industry, which is why CAHNRS is committed to continuing to provide substantial support for it,” Mittelhammer said. “Now, all of the CAHNRS scientists at the IAREC and the Tri-Cities campus will benefit from his leadership skills.”
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