Ian Burke, weed scientist with Washington State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, will lead conservation research benefiting Washington’s $800 million wheat industry as the new R. James Cook Endowed Chair in Wheat Research.
Named for one of WSU’s most renowned scientists, the Cook Endowed Chair was established in 1997 by the then-Washington Wheat Commission, now the Washington Grain Commission, to deliver innovative research and teaching that benefits the state’s wheat growers.
A professor of weed science, Burke has worked at WSU since 2006, coming to Pullman from the USDA-ARS Southern Weed Science Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss. His recent work explores new methods to control troublesome weeds that are increasingly resistant to chemicals.
As Cook Chair, Burke replaces former holder Scot Hulbert, who was named Associate Dean for Research with the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) this spring. Hulbert turns over the endowed position, which he has held since 2006, at the end of June.
Jim Cook, the chair’s namesake and first occupant, spent 40 years as a WSU and USDA scientist, making pioneering discoveries in plant pathology and soil microbiology that affect crop productivity and disease management to this day. Now retired, Cook was an exceptional mentor, recipient of the Wolf Prize for Agriculture, a National Academy of Science member, and former dean of CAHNRS. He received the university’s highest honor, the honorary doctorate, last winter (https://wsu.edu/impact/r-james-cook/).
“Game-changing advances in agriculture, such as those made by Dr. Cook, take place through the grower partnership that’s at the heart of WSU research and Extension,” said André-Denis Wright, Dean of CAHNRS.
“Ian Burke has established himself as an outstanding researcher in weed biology and ecology, helping find solutions to the fast-evolving threat of resistance that Washington farmers face,” Wright added. “Ian is also well known for his teaching, outreach, and Extension efforts, making him an ideal partner to growers and industry. Please join me in congratulating him as the new Cook Endowed Chair, and in thanking Scot Hulbert for nearly 13 years of service in the role.”
“I’m deeply honored to be recognized by the people and the organization that I work to help,” said Burke. “This role gives me new opportunities to reflect and work on issues that are truly critical.
“When I started here in 2006, partnership and talking with growers about their challenges was one of the first things that I did,” he added. “The Cook Endowed Chair makes that relationship even closer.
“I know Jim. He’s an excellent resource and a good advisor, and I always learn something from him whenever we talk,” said Burke. “Jim and those he trained carry on the ethic he represents: complete dedication to serving the growers. His legacy is all about excellence.”