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Our People

photo of Keegan Athey.

Keegan Athey
Research Associate Horticulturist | WCRC-Rogers Mesa

Keegan is a long time farmer, river guide, and desert rat. With more than ten years of experience in organic agriculture, she has pulled calves, carrots, muscles, and weeds on farms and ranches throughout the Intermountain West. After years of running produce farms in Idaho, Keegan shifted out of production agriculture and into a research associate position at OARS-RM. At the research station, she strives to develop efficient systems and conduct practical research in the realms of organic seed production, small and mid-scale vegetable farming, cover cropping, and table grape viticulture. Keegan lives in Hotchkiss, Colorado where she spends her free time running rivers and trails, baking and eating cake, and taking stuff apart with her partner, Andy.

Claudie Bertin

Claudie Bertin
Research  Associate | WCRC – Orchard Mesa

Born in Nantes, France, Claudie went to university to study Chemical Engineering and then, IT. Formerly, she was IT Manager in a multinational engineering company. Upon arriving in Grand Junction, Claudie was a volunteer at the Orchard Mesa Research Station. She worked with Colorado Department of Agriculture in the hemp program. She divides her time between the viticulture research program with Dr Horst Caspari and the cytospora research program with Dr Jane Stewart. 

Bryan Braddy
Research Associate | WCRC-Rogers Mesa
(970) 556-8380

Bryan is a lifelong resident of Western Colorado.  He graduated from Fort Lewis College with degrees in Environmental Biology and Agricultural Science and his studies focused on Range Management and Wildlife Ecology.  Bryan previously worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and two other CSU research stations before joining WCRC in 1997.  His work now is centered around all aspects of orchard and vineyard management.  Bryan also teaches pruning techniques to Master Gardeners and backyard growers across Colorado.

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Andrew Bull
Building Maintenance Technician | WCRC

Perry Cabot

Perry Cabot
Research and Extension Leader | WCRC-Grand Valley
Irrigation and Water Resources
(970) 858-3629 ext. 202

Dr. Cabot received his Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering and Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University.  His research program focuses on innovative irrigation technologies, sustainable water resources management and crop consumptive use evaluation.  He is the water resources specialist for CSU Extension and the Colorado Water Institute in the Western Region of the state.  He also leads the research and extension mission of the WCRC-Grand Valley in its role as the western CSU campus unit focused on water resources, integrated cropping systems and climate-smart agriculture.

Horst Caspari
Professor | WCRC-Orchard Mesa
(970) 434-3264 ext. 204
Viticulture Program

Born and educated in Germany, Horst studied Agricultural Science at the University of Bonn, Germany, and has a Diplom Agrar Ingenieur (equivalent to Agricultural M.S. degree) and Doctor of Agriculture (equivalent to PhD) from Bonn University. He was a visiting scientist at the Department of Horticultural Science at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand from 1990 to 1993. He held the position of Post-Doc (1994) and Research Scientist (1995 – 2000) with the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand prior to joining Colorado State University in July 2000.

Emily Dowdy
Research Associate | WCRC-Orchard Mesa
(970) 434-3264 ext. 207

Emily graduated from CSU in 2009 with a B.S degree in Horticulture. Her studies focused on food crop production and organic systems. She joined Western Colorado Research Center as a Research Associate in 2013. Prior to joining WCRC, Emily worked on a commercial organic orchard in Hotchkiss, Colorado and managed the orchards on a small diversified organic farm, also in Hotchkiss.

Jim Fry
Operational Manager | Research Associate WCRC-Grand Valley
(970) 858-3629 ext 204

Jim is a graduate from Colorado Mesa University with a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis on Wildlife Management and several upper level classes in botany. He is a life time resident of the Grand Valley, a current sixth generation farmer and military veteran.  Jim previously worked for the Federal Government  for 13 years with the National Park Service and most recently the Bureau of Reclamation at a Tractor Operator/ Wildlife Manager.  His objective is to use skills, continuing education, and experience to perform in a manner that reflects his passion for research and agriculture.

Grace Gardner

Grace Gardner 
Research  Associate | WCRC – Orchard Mesa

Grace is a Grand Valley native and plant enthusiast with a love for the outdoors and agricultural work. She graduated with a B.S. in biology from Colorado Mesa University in 2022. While attending CMU she interned with Amanda McQuade of the Community Alliance for Education and Hunger Relief, which introduced her to ag research and inspired a desire to feed people by supporting food crop producers. Post-graduation, Grace spent a season scouting grain crops near the Nebraska border before returning to the WCRC as a research associate for Dr. Horst Caspari’s viticulture program. Her goals include pruning everything but her fingers and learning as much as possible to support local vintners through research.

Max Kirks

Max Kirks
Research  Associate | WCRC – Rogers Mesa

Max’s interest in farming began while earning his BA in Environmental Studies from Fort Lewis College. After graduating in 2014, he interned at Indian Ridge Farm in Norwood, Colorado and fell in love with working sunup to sundown with mountain vistas looming in the background. He started Outlier Farm as an Incubator Farmer at the Old Fort Incubator Program in Hesperus in 2016. In 2019, he moved operations to a 90-acre ranch in Mancos with his partner Megan and began managing the 7+ acres of apple orchards along with a 2-acre veggie operation. After passing along Outlier in 2022, he is excited to be managing the vegetable operations at WCRC-Roger Mesa where he hopes that his love of good food and passion for sustainable farming practices can continue to flourish. When not at the farm, you can find Max playing in the mountains and desert of Western Colorado with Megan and their two heeler pups.

Ioannis S. Minas
Assistant Professor | WCRC-Orchard Mesa
(970) 434-3264 ext. 205
Pomology Program

Dr. Minas received his PhD in Pomology and Postharvest Physiology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. During his PhD studies was appointed as a Junior Specialist at the Dept. Plant Sciences at University of California Davis, CA. His research has emphasized on pre- and post-harvest factors and the development and adoption of novel technologies to improve general orchard performance, harvest quality and storage potential of tree-fruits. His research at CSU is focused on orchard and environmental factors affecting productivity, developmental physiology, harvest quality and postharvest physiology of tree-fruits.

Amanda McQuade

Amanda McQuade
Community Alliance for Education and Hunger Relief | WCRC-Orchard Mesa
(970) 462-2113

Amanda has an educational and professional background in the biological sciences, with a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  As a community volunteer, she is most actively involved in efforts to increase science education opportunities in the community and improve people’s access to healthy food. These interests came together when Amanda was hired as the program coordinator for the Community Alliance for Education and Hunger Relief program based out of the Research Center.

Monique Mull

Monique Mull 
Strategic Business Manager | WCRC

Monique joined the Western Colorado Research Center in June 2022. Prior to that, she worked with CSU Western Regional Extension since 2018.

Jeff Pieper

Jeff Pieper
Research Associate | WCRC-Orchard Mesa
(970) 471-6252

Has a degree in Horticulture from CSU and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Rhode Island. Jeff is involved in daily field operations at Orchard Mesa Research Station, and is also currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys all the outdoors activities The Grand Valley area has to offer.

Sri Pinnamaneni

Sri Pinnamaneni 
Research Scientist | WCRC – GV<

Sri has a Ph.D. in Genetics from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India. Sri has worked in different capacities in many research and academic organizations. He led the sweet sorghum and biomass sorghum program at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics during 2008-2015. He led as Principal Investigator / Co-principal Investigator in research proposals funded by USAID, USDoE, USDA-NIFA, European Commission and Food and Agricultural Organization. He has over 70 peer reviewed research articles and over 100 extension publications.

Gigi Richard

Gigi Richard 
Director | WCRC

Gigi received her Ph.D. and M.S. from Colorado State University and B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Civil Engineering with a water focus. In 2001, Gigi received a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct post-doctoral research at Lincoln University in New Zealand. Prior to joining CSU’s Western Colorado Research Center in 2023, Gigi was a faculty member at Colorado Mesa University (CMU, 2002-2018) and Fort Lewis College (FLC, 2018-2022) where she also contributed to the founding of and directed two water centers, the Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center at CMU and the Four Corners Water Center at FLC. While at CMU, she was the founding coordinator of the CMU/CU-Boulder Engineering Partnership Program and received CMU’s Distinguished Faculty award for her excellence in teaching, scholarship and service in 2017.

David Sterle

David Sterle
Pomology Research Associate | WCRC-Orchard Mesa
(970) 434-3264  ext. 206

David received his M.S. in Soil and Crop Sciences from Colorado State University and B.S. in Crop Science and Horticulture from California State University-Chico. He has worked with various fruit and nut crops as a disease scout and orchardist.

Bill Szaz

Charles (Bill) Szasz II  
Research Associate II | WCRC – Grand Valley

Bill graduated from Montana State University in 2010 with a B.S. degree in Environmental Horticulture. He is pursuing his master’s degree in Soil and Crop Sciences at CSU, studying water conservation of pulse crop rotations. Before working for CSU, Bill worked professionally for the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service.  In his time off, he enjoys playing with his children, canyoneering in Colorado National Monument, rafting on the Colorado River, and playing the banjo.

Brad Tonnessen

Dr. Bradley Tonnessen
Research Scientist | WCRC – Rogers Mesa

Brad Tonnessen is the Research Scientist at the CSU Organic Agriculture Research Station at Rogers Mesa. He grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, received his BS in Biology at the University of New Mexico, and earned a PhD at Colorado State University in genetics and plant pathology. Before coming to Hotchkiss, he spent time as an organic farmer and teacher at a non-profit in Sacramento, California, and was the program manager for Vegetable Extension at New Mexico State University. Brad pursued projects in chile pepper breeding and research on mixed vegetable production, and taught workshops and classes. At OARS-RM, Brad is working to sustain and build the community presence of this research station and produce ground-breaking research to benefit farmers. Research areas include organic treatments of tree fruit diseases, soil health, apple pest management, alternative crops, vegetable variety trials, and local seed production.

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