Postdoctoral Research Associate

Washington State University
Puyallup, WA
Application Deadline: 
Saturday, March 30, 2019 - 11
Contact Name For Further Info: 
Gary Chastagner
Contact Phone Number: 
Contact Email:

A Postdoctoral Research Associate position is available at Washington State University (WSU) to evaluate the effectiveness of heat treatments to kill insect larvae in imported conifer seeds and study the life cycle of twig weevils to improve the management of these pests in Christmas trees and bough production stands. The Pacific Northwest (PNW) leads the nation in the production of Christmas trees and is a major supplier of conifer boughs that are used for a number of decorative holiday greenery products. Because of their resistance to diseases and some insect pests, the production of Nordmann fir and Turkish fir Christmas trees is increasing, now accounting for about 10% of the production in the PNW. Nurseries that produce seedlings of these species mostly rely on the importation of seeds from natural stands from the Republic of Georgia, Turkey and Russia. During the past couple of years a significant amount of seed had to be destroyed because of the detection of Megastigmas sp. larvae inside imported seed at APHIS PPQ plant introduction stations. The destruction of this seed threatens the future supply of seedlings of these species. There are currently no APHIS approved treatments for Megastigmas-infested conifer seeds. Heat treatment has been effective in killing Megastigmas larvae in infested Douglas-fir seed and work will be done to determine its effectiveness and crop safety on Nordmann and Turkish fir seed. Research relating to the population structure, distribution, and life cycle of Douglas-fir twig weevils (Cylindrocopturus furnissi) to optimize the control of this pest in Christmas tree plantations in the PNW will also be done. During the past couple of years, this pest has emerged as a significant problem in both export and domestic markets. In some export markets, such as Mexico, there is a zero tolerance for this pest on trees and twig weevil has been the number one cause of loads being rejected. Although this pest has primarily occurred on Douglas-fir in the past, it is now damaging all species of trees and is also a problem in low elevation noble fir bough production stands. Research is needed determine possible causes for the expansion of problems relating to this pest on host such as noble and Nordmann fir. Some avenues to explore may be a population shift within this pest population, climate change issues or other yet unknown causes. Another goal is to identify critical stages in the pest life cycle so that growers can better target applications of pesticides to coincide with these periods. The identification of any management or control options such as bio-control(s) or chemical attractants will also be important. This is a temporary, full-time position. The initial appointment is for 1 year, and is renewable for up to 2 years depending on satisfactory performance and availability of funding. The incumbent will work within the Christmas Tree Research and Extension program under the supervision of Dr. Gary Chastagner at the WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center in Puyallup, WA ; with collaborator Chal Landgren at Oregon State University; and with entomologists at the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), growers, seed importers, and other extension educators and specialists. Additional Information Position responsibilities include: - Design statistically-robust field, lab, and greenhouse/growth chamber experiments - Complete data management and statistical analyses effectively and in a timely manner - Communicate and present results professionally to grower and scientific audiences at stakeholder meetings, scientific conferences, and field days - Publish results in peer-reviewed, scientific journals, and review scientific publications - Assist with additional grant writing, if needed, to support the project - Assist in the preparation of progress and annual project reports - Collaborate professionally with regional scientists/stakeholders - Work effectively independently and as part of the larger team associated with this project - Utilize laboratory, field, and greenhouse techniques, including isolation, culturing, identification and maintenance of pathogen cultures; inoculations with pathogens; phenotypic disease ratings; etc. - Travel in the Pacific Northwest for field trials, presentations, and research planning meetings related to this project. View the Benefits overview for information regarding competitive benefits available.