Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Evan Craine

Research Associate - End-Use Science in Crop Stewardship

Evan Craine is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Land Institute working on the perennial legume sainfoin. He lives in Pullman, Washington, at the edge of the Palouse region in the eastern part of the state. He earned a Ph.D. in Crop Science, with a focus on plant breeding and genetics, as a member of Dr. Kevin Murphy’s Sustainable Seed Systems Laboratory at Washington State University in 2022. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Organismal Biology and Ecology and a minor in Biochemistry at Colorado College in 2015.

What work experiences are most relevant to your position at The Land Institute?
My dissertation focused on breeding for quinoa and malting barley end-use quality. I designed systems to evaluate quinoa nutritional quality and malt quality, flavor, and beer flavor. While stewarding international collaborations, we characterized seed composition and morphology for diverse quinoa germplasm to better understand variation in these traits, their relationships, and their genetic architecture. Working within a regional grain system, we identified adapted spring barley varieties with superior malting quality and used consumer panels to the determine if untrained panelists can differentiate barley varieties, attributes that drive liking, the relationships between malt and beer flavor attributes, and how to trace the influence of barley variety on grain, malt, and beer quality from ground to glass.

What’s most inspiring about your position?
There is so much room for discovery while working with new crops, especially perennial crops like sainfoin. I’m inspired by the vibrant collaborations and enormous curiosity at The Land Institute. I’m also humbled by the sense of urgency brought to this work and the passion that the team have for the mission and the community. I’m excited to learn and grow here and amreally looking forward to creating perennial crop culinary traditions.

What drew you to work at The Land Institute?
While working at Archbold Biology Station, the beauty and ruggedness of the Florida Scrub, the mission, research collaborations, and community deeply resonated with me. I envisioned that TLI would embody a similar ethos. I believe in contributing to agriculture with the ecological integrity of a natural system. I’m excited by the grand challenges and opportunities associated with developing totally new crops.

What Land Institute perennial grain crop do you look forward to eating the most and how would you prepare it?
I’m fortunate to have eaten silphium, sainfoin, and Kernza perennial grain. I look forward to eating perennial wheat. I would probably make pasta or pizza.

If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
It would probably be a cookbook, showcasing my favorite ways to drink, cook, and bake with the species I’ve worked with.

What’s your motto or favorite quote?
To appreciate something you must understand it, and to understand something you must experience it.

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