A $1.5 million pledge last year from the California Pistachio Research Board to the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology brings Dr. Timothy Spann to Fresno State to conduct advanced research and education for the pistachio industry.

As the first to hold the Rodger B. Jensen Endowed Professorship in Pistachio Physiology and Pomology, Spann will bring his expertise to help solve industry challenges, while training the next generation of agricultural professionals. The position will focus on applied research in pistachio physiology and teaching courses in pomology, the science and practice of growing fruit.

“My approach to research is to do things that help make the growers more productive and able to do more with the resources they have available,” Spann said.

Spann will start on campus in August, 2014. He will work closely with the pistachio board to prioritize research, and as a teacher and adviser connecting students to the industry. He says he looks forward connecting with industry leaders and students in the classroom.

Currently Spann works as a research project manager for the California Avocado Commission. He holds a doctorate in Plant Biology from UC Davis and had master’s and bachelor’s degrees in horticulture from University of Florida. His doctoral research was focused on the architectural development of the pistachio tree canopy.

When the gift establishing the endowed chair was announced last year, board chair and pistachio grower Tom Coleman said that it comes at a pivotal time for the industry. “During the past 20 years the California pistachio industry experienced rapid growth and we have relied on researchers from across the state. Unfortunately many of these academic researchers recently retired or will retire soon.

“Fresno State is the ideal location with respect to our growers. It is one of the top agricultural universities in the country and is deeply committed to supporting the agricultural community,” Coleman said.

The California Pistachio Research Board is composed of pistachio producers dedicated to researching pistachio propagation, production, harvesting, handling and preparation for market. The board also provides educational opportunities and material for pistachio growers.

The Jordan College offers students a comprehensive, hands-on educational experience. Students train at the 1,000 acre farm laboratory, of which 25 acres are dedicated to pistachios.

For more information, contact Kathleen R. Schock, director of media and development communications, at 559.278.2756 or kschock@csufresno.edu.

To discuss potential partnership opportunities to fund academic positions or programs, contact Alcidia Freitas Gomes at alcidia@csufresno.edu or 559-278.4266.

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