Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Current Graduate Students

Merri Metcalfe holds a ball of dough in the Bread Lab kitchen.
Merri Metcalfe

Merri Metcalfe is a doctoral student at WSU Breadlab working under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Jones. Her research focuses on the accessibility, quality, and affordability of grain-based products from Western Washington and the importance of making nutritious food more available within our communities. She completed a Master of Sciences in Sport Nutrition at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) in May 2018 and is a registered dietitian by trade, but a philosopher at heart. She has spent many sleepless nights thinking about why we are here, the meaning of it all, and our place in this world. She has experience working in clinical dietetics, eating disorder treatment, and sport nutrition, but most recently, has been moved by the need to cultivate a more positive and resilient food system.

Robin Morgan chops onion in an outdoor kitchen.
Robin Morgan

Robin grew up in the North of Italy being exposed to the natural beauty of the west and the agricultural activities of the east. After working as a cook he decided to develop his passion about food by earning a B.S. in Agricultural Sciences and a M.S. in Organic Agriculture at Pisa University. During those years Robin kept developing his bread-making skills, leading him to start growing small plots of grain crops and getting involved in several participatory research projects of the Italian rural network (Rete semi rurali). Robin is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in crop science at WSU Breadlab under the mentoring of professor Dr. Stephen S. Jones, exploring the intersections between breeding and baking.

Man with stubble and blue baseball cap.
Louie Prager

Louie Prager moved to Skagit Valley from Carlsbad, California. Louie earned a B.S. in Biology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he focused on botany and plant ecology. After graduating he started a craft bakery with his brother making organic artisan breads. Prager Brothers Artisan Breads began collaborations with the Bread Lab in 2013, this eventually led to the opportunity for Louie to join WSU Breadlab full time. Under the guidance of Dr. Stephen S. Jones, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Crop Science working on breeding colored barley for malting purposes with a focus on varieties intended for organic agriculture. He is funded by Westland Distillery. Besides his love for food and helping communities improve their food system, Louie loves to backpack, surf, and ride his unicycle.

Laura Valli stands outside the door to The Bread Lab..
Laura Valli

Laura comes to WSU Breadlab with a B.A. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and more than two years experience of managing a small organic coffee roastery and café in her hometown in Estonia. She is working towards her Ph.D. under the guidance of Dr. Stephen S. Jones. Laura enjoys cooking, thinking about flavors, and tracing back the origins of the recipes and produce she uses. She is fascinated by the multitude of meanings cooking can have for different people, be they empowering or anxiety-inducing, and the way people decide what, when, where and together with whom they eat and what the consequences of such decisions are.Coming from a Nordic country, Laura is partial towards rye and rye sourdough and hopes to spread the love for it also in the U.S., both among the farmers and bakers. In addition to bread, she is keen on porridge as an alternative and less appreciated use for whole grains.