Two plant pathologists will head research and development at a new strawberry research center.

Gerald Holmes and Kelly Ivors will be the lead researchers at the Strawberry Sustainability Research and Education Center at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, according to a news release from the Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission.

The center, a partnership between the commission and Cal Poly’s College of Food, Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, will focus on applied research that incorporates teaching and learning experiences for Cal Poly students and faculty and California strawberry growers.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this unique collaboration to address challenges facing California’s strawberry farmers,” Rick Tomlinson, president of the commission, said in the release. “We’re committed to a robust program focused on innovation and applied research to help keep strawberry farming viable in California.”

Holmes, who worked most recently for Valent U.S.A. Corp., will provide overall strategic leadership at the center and work with both growers and researchers.

Ivors, formerly an associate professor and extension plant pathologist at North Carolina State University, will focus on studying soilborne plant pathogens in commercial strawberry production.