CORVALLIS - Steven Petrie, a soil scientist with nearly 20 years of experience working with agriculture in the Pacific Northwest, has been appointed head of the Oregon State University Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center in Pendleton.

In his new position, Petrie will have overall administrative responsibility for the center's research programs in Umatilla and Sherman counties. The center's primary research emphasis is on wheat and other cereal crops.

"Petrie brings an ideal combination of experience with private industry and university research and extension," said Thayne Dutson, dean of the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. "Through the years he has established strong links to research programs in Oregon, Idaho and Washington as well as with wheat growers throughout the region."

Since 1998, Petrie has been sales and marketing manager for the soil sciences group at Martin Marietta Technologies Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prior to that, he spent 13 years with Unocal Agricultural Products in Boise, Idaho, where he directed research and related scientific support for the marketing of nitrogen and sulfur fertilizers in the western United States.

While at Unocal, he also served as an adjunct professor and member of the graduate faculties at OSU and Washington State University. From 1981 to 1985, Petrie was a research and Extension soil fertility specialist at the University of Idaho research center in Twin Falls.

Petrie earned his bachelor's degree in crop science at Michigan State University in 1976. He obtained his master's degree in soil science at OSU in 1979 and completed a doctorate in soil science at OSU in 1981.

Petrie replaces Richard Smiley, who has been the superintendent of the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center for 15 years. Smiley, a plant pathologist, will continue to conduct research on plant diseases in the Columbia basin. The research center has six senior research faculty and 13 support staff. In addition, the USDA Agricultural Research Service has 15 researchers stationed at the center.

Petrie will begin working at the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center in mid-July.

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Mike Burke, 541-737-2211