PULLMAN, Wash. – Laura R. Lewis, an agricultural geographer with an emphasis on biodiversity and environmental systems, will return to Washington as the director for Washington State University Jefferson County Extension.
 
Lewis’ selection follows a national search that involved WSU Extension faculty, staff and stakeholders. She begins her new responsibilities on Oct. 31.
 
“Laura brings a great skill set and a fresh perspective to this position, and we welcome her to the Washington State University Extension faculty,” said T. Randel Baldree, interim associate director of WSU Extension.
 
Lewis earned her bachelor’s in agriculture at WSU in 1996 with a focus on crop, soil and horticultural science in world agricultural systems and sustainability. She also holds a Ph.D. in agricultural geography from the University of California, Davis.
 
For the past five years, Lewis has served as an assistant professor of biogeography at the University of Maryland in the Geography and Environmental Systems Department. Her research program includes applied ethno-ecology and agrobiodiversity in urban landscapes, with specific focus on food deserts, and in traditional African ag systems. Her research also includes the conservation and restoration of economically important species.
 
From 2001 to 2006, Lewis was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at UC Davis. In the 1990s, she worked as a biological science technician at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Western Regional Plant Introduction Station at Pullman and held that same post at the USDA-ARS Yakima Area Research Laboratory at Wapato.