Stefano Musacchi, an internationally-recognized leader in pomology, will join the faculty at Washington State University next August as the endowed chair in tree fruit physiology/management.
The chair is funded by the state's apple and pear growers through their historic partnership with WSU by investing $27 million to expand tree fruit research and extension as part of the Campaign for WSU fund drive.
Musacchi is assistant professor in the University of Bologna's Department of Fruit Tree and Wood Plant Sciences. He is familiar with tree fruit production in the Pacific Northwest, having visited the region as a consulting visiting scientist numerous times in his 20 year career.
"Bringing Stefano to Washington further solidifies the region's status as an international leader in tree fruit production and research," says Dan Bernado, WSU agriculture and extension vice president.
"His experience in orchard systems, fruit physiology and biochemistry of grafting bring incredible depth and breadth to our already world-class team of tree fruit research and extension experts."
He brings experience "that will produce immediate benefit to the industry," adds Jim Doornick, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission chairman. It was the WTFRC that helped bring the chair to reality.
"The industry has needed a strong generalist in apple and pear horticulture who can hit the ground running and work directly in orchards with growers as well as conduct basic research in the lab," says Jake Gutzwiler, a cherry producer and quality control manager for Stemilt Growers.
"We're looking to Stefano to coordinate existing research and help identify long-term areas of focus."
Gutzwiler chairs the WSU Endowment Advisory Committee which, with WSU administrators and researchers, guides decisions about how to direct funds from the $27 million gift from the tree fruit industry.
"We've been developing a list of needs that the industry needs in terms of research and extension," he says. "We know we need both research and extension leaders."