Francisco “Paco” Gonzalez earned both a B.S. and a Ph.D. at WSU. In 2016, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Food Systems, majoring in Agricultural Technology and minoring in Horticulture. Before graduating, he’d already secured a place in Dr. Mark Pavek’s lab. He received his Ph.D. in Horticulture in July 2021.
Paco’s Ph.D. project with Dr. Pavek was composed of two major studies. The first was focused on improving tuber yield and quality by leveraging many years of cumulative knowledge about potato crop maturity and late-season deficit irrigation. A second study was focused on measuring evapotranspiration and developing crop coefficients for five russet potato cultivars grown in the Pacific Northwest in order to provide growers with irrigation management strategies that improve total yield, tuber quality, and water use efficiency.
After successfully defending his Ph.D., Paco continued to work with Dr. Pavek as a post-doctoral researcher. “As a postdoc,” Paco says, “I helped designed procedures for the 2022 research season. I also began preparing several articles for publishing.”
In March, 2022, Paco took a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Based in Prosser, Wash., Paco is working as a Hops Research Horticulturist. “My duties here,” he says, “are focused on developing assays for studying abiotic stress and developing cultural management strategies for minimizing abiotic stress in hops.”
Born in a small village in Michoacán, Mexico, Paco was raised in the Columbia Basin of Washington State. “My parents, both working in the tree-fruit industry, raised me and my four siblings in orchards. That’s where my interest in agriculture, and especially horticulture, was born. My desire to pursue higher education was inspired by my parents, who broke their backs conducting fieldwork to provide for my siblings and me.”
Paco says that it was in his junior year that he became interested in graduate study. He worked in soil scientist Dr. Carpenter-Boggs lab, working for two graduate students who gave him a good idea of what it takes to complete a Ph.D. program. “My strongest motivation, though, was to provide a great example of academic success for my two little girls. Pursuing a Ph.D. was not only difficult for me, but also for my wife, Ashley, and my two daughters, Olivia and Maia. I am grateful for their sacrifice and unconditional support.”