Plant pathology professor earns leadership award

Inglis-80MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – A Washington State University Mount Vernon researcher has been recognized with WSU’s annual Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Leadership.

Debbie Inglis, vegetable pathology program leader, is one of four WSU faculty recipients of the 2013-14 Sahlin awards, to be presented March 28 at the annual Showcase Celebrating Excellence Recognition Banquet in Pullman.

“Dr. Inglis is a true leader in the classical sense,” said Steve Jones, director of the WSU Mount Vernon research center. “This award not only symbolizes her strength in leading interdisciplinary research projects; it is a testament to the leadership she demonstrates here on a daily basis, in her research and interactions with the faculty, staff and growers in this community.

“Under her direction, this facility became a full-service research and extension center,” he said. “With her continued leadership over the vegetable pathology program, it continues to grow and flourish.”

Inglis, a plant pathology professor, served as interim director of the WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center 2004-08.

“But what I’ve really learned throughout the years about leadership,” she said, “is that to be a good leader, you also have to be a good follower. I have to say that what we have accomplished here, what we are still accomplishing, is a matter of teamwork.”

Skagit Valley tulip grower John Roozen presents Debbie Inglis with a colorful bouquet symbolizing the range of her interdisciplinary achievements. (Photo by Kim Binczewski)

A grower with whom Inglis has worked for decades is Skagit Valley tulip farmer John Roozen. At a recent WSU Mount Vernon reception in her honor, he presented her with a colorful bouquet of flowers from his greenhouses.

“This award represents a lifetime of things Debbie has done,” he said. “These tulips represent the beauty that she gives to us, and we just want to return something to her – in all the colors and disciplines of her field.”

Inglis’ primary research area is the biology and management of diseases of vegetable crops, particularly potatoes. She has published prolifically, delivered presentations, mentored students and employees, and obtained research funding from a variety of sources, including most recently a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) grant.

During the SCRI project, Inglis led a transdisciplinary team of scientists from six institutions in several states. The team’s project, “Biodegradable Mulches for Specialty Crops Produced Under Protective Covers,” focused on the development, testing and adoption of alternatives to plastic in order to reduce the environmental challenges that polyethylene plastic mulches pose in the soil.

Just a few months ago, Inglis and co-project director/vegetable horticulturist Carol Miles were recognized in Washington, D.C., for their innovative work by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Other WSU awards Inglis has received through the College of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences include the Hall of Honored Alumni and Friends (2009), National Women’s History Month Award for Professional and Academic Leadership (2009) and Team Interdisciplinary Award (2012).

More information about Inglis and the WSU Mount Vernon vegetable pathology program is available at



Debbie Inglis, WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, 360-848-6134,