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Audience and Lecturer

Science In Our Valley

Scientists and science educators in the Wenatchee Valley have been gathering for the past few years for weekly seminars to catalyze the development of an engaged regional scientific community.

Each series features the research of local scientists and invited guest speakers.


Thank you, Our Valley Our Future!

Science In Our Valley is funded through a grant from Our Valley Our Future, which is an independent, nonpartisan, community-based organization that engages and collaborates with the people and organizations of Our Valley in working to achieve our region’s shared, long-range vision.

Incredible research in our own backyard.

The Science in Our Valley seminar series began in October 2017 as a way for local scientists and science educators to bring their research to the community and as a way to engage and connect with one another. The series features presentations by local scientists and science educators as well as guests from outside the region.

The seminar presentations are intended for a ‘science-based’ audience, including researchers, postdoctoral scientists, K-12 educators, graduate students, undergraduate scientists, and science enthusiasts.

Spring 2024 Series

February 2024 - April 2024

Events are free and open to the public -

no registration required!

Wednesdays from 4:00pm - 5:00pm

WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

1100 N Western Ave, Wenatchee WA 98801

*The event on February 21 will be at Wenatchee Valley College Jack & Edna McGuire Event Center


Partners for the seminar series include: Apple STEM Network, North Central Educational Service District, U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Station, WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center, and Wenatchee Valley College.

The Science In Our Valley seminar series are possible thanks to support from Our Valley Our Future funding. 

Educators: Clock Hours are available for attending Science In Our Valley seminars.

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Wednesday, March 20 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm
WSU Tree Fruit Research + Extension Center, Wenatchee WA

Sensitivity to postharvest fungicides of several Penicillium species causing blue mold of pome fruits in Pacific Northwest

Presented by Madan Pandey, Masters Student, Washington State University

The postharvest disease blue mold poses a significant threat to apples and pears in storage and represents up to 50% of total postharvest decays in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Although the primary causal species for blue mold is believed to be Penicillium expansum, several other Penicillium species have been identified and estimated to make up to 25% of the Penicillium population in the PNW. Four postharvest fungicides are registered for the control of blue mold and other postharvest diseases. Frequent use of the same fungicides has led to the emergence of P. expansum resistant strains. If found tolerant to the four postharvest fungicides on fruit, these Penicillium species may cause a serious risk and a challenge for blue mold management in this already challenging disease but will also provide clues for better control.

Pear Tree

Wednesday, March 27 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm
WSU Tree Fruit Research + Extension Center, Wenatchee WA

Predicting Postharvest Fruit Outcomes Based on Hyperspectral Images as a Nondestructive Technique

Presented by Dr. Rene Mogollon, Postdoc – Research Associate, Postharvest Systems Lab

Measuring fruit quality parameters, such as firmness, sugar, or defect incidence, is essential for deciding storage protocols or inferring fruit postharvest outcomes. In this order, nondestructive methods are significant in evaluating fruit quality and obtaining qualitative and quantitative data without destroying the sample, leading to improved sampling times and reducing fruit waste. In this talk, Dr. Rene Mogollon will overview nondestructive techniques used in postharvest quality evaluations and show how hyperspectral imager analysis can predict fruit postharvest outcomes in advance.

Bowl of Fruits

Wednesday, April 10 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm
WSU Tree Fruit Research + Extension Center, Wenatchee WA

Energy In Our Valley

Presented by Gary Ivory, General Manager at Douglas PUD, and Brett Bickford, Managing Director Generation and Transmission at Chelan PUD

PUD leaders want to build on the legacy of our forebearers by taking steps today to continue to bring benefits to the community for the next 50 years and beyond. As we anticipate continued regional growth, we need to explore additional clean energy supply opportunities and new technologies to ensure we are best positioned for an increasing volume and velocity of changes in the coming decades. 


Some of the generation sources that are being explored to supplement our clean renewable hydropower include, solar, wind, fission, geothermal and fusion. There is also potential to store energy produced by our hydroelectric dams or other means via technologies like pumped storage, gravity storage, lithium-ion batteries, and iron-flow batteries.


And Douglas PUD is leading the region with their Hydrogen gas generation facility. Douglas PUD is in the final phase of constructing their green hydrogen project with a commissioning date in mid 2024. In addition to producing a valuable renewable gas, the utility anticipates the increased ability to integrate more renewables in a manner that is cost effective, reduce generator unit maintenance costs and free up reserve capacity to benefit their customers.

Setting the stage for the discussion, here are brief descriptions of these technologies: 

  • Solar power - electricity produced by the conversion of energy from the sun. 

  • Wind power - electricity produced by the earth's winds. 

  • Battery power - electricity stored in the form of chemical energy. 

  • Geothermal power - electricity produced by using heat from within the earth’s core to convert water or other organic liquids to make steam to be used in power generation. 

  • Hydrogen - a colorless, odorless, tasteless, nontoxic gas that can be burned to create steam for generation, or used as an alternative fuel to power vehicles and to create electricity in a fuel cell. Industrial hydrogen gas production is mainly from steam reforming of natural gas. A small percentage is also produced by the electrolysis of water using an electrolyzer. 

  • Fission power - electricity made by splitting the nucleus of atoms which releases heat to make steam to be used in power generation. 

  • Fusion power - a proposed form of power generation that would generate electricity by combining two atoms under high heat and pressure, which releases energy that can be used to make electricity. 

  • Gravity storage - uses the force of gravity of an elevated mass. Like pumped storage, the mass is raised and then dropped or lowered to generate electricity. 

  • Pumped Storage - a type of hydro-electric energy storage where water is pumped to an upper reservoir and dropped to a lower reservoir to generate electricity 


Past Seminars - Spring 2024

Wednesday, February 7 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm
WSU Tree Fruit Research + Extension Center, Wenatchee WA

Combining Mangos and Wild Mangos:
The Wango Origin Story

Presented by Thiago Campbell, PhD Student, Washington State University

Domestication of mangos has brought about a potential genetic bottleneck that is not as disease-resistant or adaptable to changing climactic conditions.


Through numerous years of collecting trips in Southeast Asia, over 69 different wild mango species have been identified and collected, with germplasm of many located in Puerto Rico and Florida, among other places. These wild mangos were successfully crossbred with the common mango (Mangifera indica) to create new interspecific hybrids, now referred to as 'wangos'.These new fruits are in the earliest stages of development and require many years of testing for flowering induction, precocity, fruit quality, etc., but they serve as a sign of the genetic potential available to create new fruits with a novel marketing opportunity.

Fresh Mangos

Wednesday, February 14 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm
WSU Tree Fruit Research + Extension Center, Wenatchee WA

Open Networking Social

Join us for this opportunity to meet and connect with scientists and science enthusiasts in the region while enjoying coffee and treats. Faculty, Postdocs, grad students, undergrads, educators and community are all welcome!


Wednesday, February 21 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Wenatchee Valley College Jack & Edna McGuire Event Center

A Look at Digital Technologies in Washington Vineyards

Presented by Jake Schrader, Smart Farm Engineering Technician, AgAID Institute

The agricultural landscape has witnessed a technology explosion with the advent of sensors, drones, artificial intelligence, internet-of-things and cloud-computing. These devices provide valuable information to robots, tractors, implements, and autonomous systems, enabling the automation of tasks that are traditionally considered dull, dirty, or dangerous. The AgAID Institute is developing a Smart Vineyard in Prosser to demonstrate practical uses of these technologies in Washington vineyards. This talk will discuss some of the learnings and opportunities for new technology development and applications.


Please note: This presentation is at a different location than normal. It will be hosted at the Wenatchee Valley College McGuire Event Center off of 5th Street.


Wednesday, February 28 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm
WSU Tree Fruit Research + Extension Center, Wenatchee WA

Apple Breeding 101

Presented by India Cain, Associate in Research, Washington State University

Gain some insight into the process of apple breeding from the Washington State University (WSU) apple breeding program, the home of the Cosmic Crisp® apple. Producing a new apple variety takes around 20 years of multi-stage evaluation and selection.


The WSU breeding program was started in 1994 with the aim of producing new varieties especially suited to the main production areas of the state. The program targets consumers by improving quality, particularly texture, as well as appearance and storability. The breeding program works closely with stakeholders to determine the method of release, and the new variety is patented and given a commercial brand name before being released to consumers.

Green Apples

Wednesday, March 6 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm
WSU Tree Fruit Research + Extension Center, Wenatchee WA

Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: Toward a More Perfect Biophilia with the Consilience of Cascadia Field Guide: Art, Ecology, Poetry

Presented by Derek Sheffield, English Faculty, Wenatchee Valley College

We know very well the significance of STEM. For good reasons, the cultural messaging on this topic has been pervasive. But what happens when art is introduced so that we are talking about STEAM? Why might it be helpful to blend science with the humanities? These questions will be addressed, along with others, through the lens of an exciting new book dedicated to our bioregion.

Girl Hiking in Mountains

Science in Our Valley is a collaborative effort with support from Apple STEM Network, Washington State University Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Station, Wenatchee Valley College, the North Central Educational Service District and the Our Valley Our Future Bridge Research and Innovation District.

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