Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones

Director, WSU BreadlabProfessor 360-707-4640 Washington State University Breadlab 11768 Westar Lane, Unit E, Box 5, Burlington, WA 98233


B.S. California State University, Chico 1980
M.S., Ph.D. University of California, Davis 1986, 1991


The goal of the western Washington grain breeding program is to ensure the long-term environmental and economic health of regional farming while producing a flavorful food crop that yields well and is high in nutritional value. Wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat and dry beans grown for local markets in complex systems and rotations are prioritized so that we may keep the value where it is produced. Areas of graduate student research projects include breeding for organic/regenerative farming systems, farmer participatory breeding, affordability and accessibility, converting wheat to a perennial crop, evolution of wheat species, increased yields with fewer inputs, and non-GMO use of wild species for crop improvement. Tools involve classical genetics, cytogenetics, and innovative breeding strategies.


Morgan R, Danilova T, Newell M, Cai X, Jones S. Agronomic Evaluation and Molecular Cytogenetic Characterization of Triticum aestivum × Thinopyrum spp. Derivative Breeding Lines Presenting Perennial Growth Habits. Plants. 2023; 12(18):3217.

Metcalfe, M.C., H.E. Estrada, and S.S. Jones. 2022. Climate-Changed Wheat: The Effect of Smaller Kernels on the Nutritional Value of Wheat. Sustainability 14, 6546.

Econopouly, B.F., and S.S. Jones. 2019. Addressing the challenges of new decentralized flour mills in alternative agriculture and food systems: a study on grain aging prior to whole wheat milling. 44:2, 258-275.

Econopouly, B., B. Van Veldhuizen, S. Lyon, D. Killilea, M. Zhang, and S. Jones. 2019. Early maturing spring wheat in Nordic wildtype NAM-B1 germplasm for short-duration alternative wheat-producing regions. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization, 17(4), 352-361. doi:10.1017/S147926211900011X

Jones, S.S., and B.F. Econopouly. 2018. Breeding away from all purpose. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 42:6, 712-721.

Econopouly, B.F., and S.S. Jones. 2017. The Rewards of (Gluten) Intolerance. Gastronomica 17 (2): 76–78.

Curwen-Mcadams, C., M. Arterburn, K. Murphy, X. Cai, and S.S. Jones. 2016. Toward A Taxonomic Definition Of Perennial Wheat: A New Species ×Tritipyrum Aaseae Described Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution: 1-9.

Brouwer, B.O., K.M. Murphy, and S.S. Jones. 2016. Plant Breeding For Local Food Systems: A Contextural Review Of End-Use Selection For Small Grains And Dry Beans In Western Washington Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 31.02: 172-184.

Brouwer, B.O., P.B. Schwarz, J.M. Barr, P.M. Hayes, K.M. Murphy, and S.S. Jones. 2016. Evaluating Barley For The Emerging Craft Malting Industry In Western Washington Agronomy Journal 108.3: 939-949.

Econopouly, B.F., and SS. Jones. 2016. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Charles Darwin, T. H. Huxley, The Origin Of Cotton, And Gregor Mendel (Inventor Of X-Rays) Leonardo (first view).

Winkler, L.R., K.M. Murphy, and S.S. Jones. 2016. The History Of Oats In Western Washington And The Evolution Of Regionality In Agriculture Journal of Rural Studies 47: 231-241.

Meints, B., A. Cuesta-Marcos, A.S. Ross, S. Fisk, T. Kongraksawech, J.M. Marshall, K. Murphy, and P.M. Hayes. 2015. Developing Winter Food Barley for the Pacific Northwest of the US. Crop Science 55.4: 1563-1573.

Meints, B., B.O. Brouwer, B. Brown, A. Cuesta-Marcos, S.S. Jones, M. Kolding, S. Fisk, J.M. Marshall, K. Murphy, S. Petrie, K. Rhinhart, A.S. Ross, and P.M. Hayes. 2015.  Registration of #STRKR Barley Germplasm Journal of Plant Registrations 9.3: 388-392.

Econopouly, B., M.L. Derie, S.S. Jones, and L.J. du Toit. 2016. Downy mildew of buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum, in the USA caused by Peronospora cf. ducometii. Plant Disease ja.

Graebner, R., A. Cuesta-Marcos, S. Fisk, B. Brouwer, S. Jones, and P. Hayes. 2015. Registration of ‘Alba’ barley. Journal of Plant Registrations 9: 1-5.

Youngqusit, C. …….., SS. Jones, and D. Call. 2014. Ciprofloxacin Residues in Municipal Biosolid Compost Do Not Selectively Enrich Populations of Resistant Bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 80: 7521-7526.

Mohammadi, M,………….., S.S. Jones,…………. and K.P. Smith. 2014. Association mapping of grain hardness, polyphenol oxidase, total phenolics, amylose content, and β-glucan in US barley breeding germplasm. Euphytica 149:145–159

Hills, K.M., J.R. Goldberger, and S.S. Jones. 2013. Commercial bakers and the relocalization of wheat in western Washington State. Agriculture and Human Values 30(3):365-378.

Jakumar, N., S. Snapp, K. Murphy, and S.S. Jones. 2012. Agronomic assessment of perennial wheat and perennial rye as cereal crops.   Agronomy Journal 104: 1716-1726.

Jones, S.S. 2012. Kicking the Commodity Habit: On Being Grown Out of Place. Gastronomica 12: 74-77.

Hayes, R.C., M.T. Newell, L.R. DeHaan, K. Murphy, S. Crane, M.R. Norton, L.J. Wade, M. Newberry, M. Fahim, S.S. Jones, T.S. Cox, and P.J. Larkin. 2012. Perennial cereal crops: An initial evaluation of wheat derivatives.  Field Crops Research 133: 68-89.

Arterburn, M., K.M. Murphy, and S.S.Jones. 2011. Organic Wheat Breeding. In: Organic Crop Breeding, E.T. Lammerts van Bueren and J.R. Myers (eds.), Wiley-Blackwell.

Matanguihan, G.J.B., K. Murphy, and S.S. Jones. 2011. Control of common bunt in organic wheat. Plant Disease; Feature Article. 95:92-103.

Dawson, J.C., K.M. Murphy, D.R. Huggins, and S.S. Jones. 2011. Evaluation of winter wheat breeding lines for traits related to nitrogen use in organic systems. Organic Agriculture (in press).

Glover, J.D., J.P Reganold, S.S. Jones, and Y. Xu. 2010. Increased Food and Ecosystem Security via Perennial Grains. Science. 328 No. 5986:1638-1639.

Lammerts van Bueren,T., S.S. Jones, and M.M. Messmer. 2010. The need to breed crop varieties suitable for organic farming using wheat, tomato and broccoli as examples: A review. NJAS – Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences doi:10.1016/j.njas.2010.04.001.

Dawson, J.C., and S.S. Jones. Assessing genetic variation for plant N, biomass production and grain traits in annual and perennial wheat grown with organic fertilizer. (Submitted 2010 to: Organic Agriculture).

Murphy, K., L. Hoagland, P.G. Reeves, B. Baik, and S.S. Jones. 2009. Nutritional and quality characteristics expressed in 31 perennial wheat breeding lines.  Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 24: 285-292.

Murphy, K., K. Balow, S. Lyon, and S.S. Jones. 2008. Estimated response to selection, combining ability and heritability of coleoptile length in winter wheat. Euphytica: The International Journal of Plant Breeding 164: 709-718. doi: 10.1007/s10681-008-9692-7.

Murphy, K., P.R. Reeves, and S.S. Jones. 2008. Relationship between yield and mineral nutrient concentration in historical and modern spring wheat cultivars.  Euphytica: The International Journal of Plant Breeding 163: 381-390. doi 10.1007/s10681-008-9681-x/.

Murphy, K., J.C. Dawson, and S.S. Jones. 2008. Relationship among phenotypic growth traits, yield and weed suppression in spring wheat landraces and modern cultivars.  Field Crops Research 105: 107-115. doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2007.08.004.

Dawson, J.C., K. Murphy, and S.S. Jones. 2008. Decentralized selection and participatory approaches in plant breeding for low-input systems. Euphytica: The International Journal of Plant Breeding 160: 143-154. doi:10.1007/s10681-007-9533-0.

Murphy, K., A. Carter, R.S. Zemetra, and S.S. Jones. 2007. Karyotype and ideogram analyses of four wheatgrass cultivars for use in perennial wheat breeding.  Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 31(1): 137-149. doi:10.1300/J064v31n01_11.

Jones, S.S., S.R. Lyon, K.A. Balow, M.A. Gollnick, K. Murphy, T.D. Murray, X.M. Chen, K.G. Campbell, J.W. Burns, W.F. Schillinger, P.E. Reisenauer, and B.J. Goates. 2007. Registration of ‘MDM’ wheat.  Journal of Plant Registrations 1 (2): 104-106. doi:10.3198/jpr2007.01.0019crc.

Murphy K., K.G. Campbell, S. Lyon, and S.S. Jones. 2007. Evidence for varietal adaptation to organic farming systems.  Field Crops Research 102: 172-177. doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2007.03.011.

Glenna, Leland, Gollnick, Margaret A., and S.S. Jones. 2006. Inhumane Opportunity Structures: Teaching Eugenics at United States Land-Grant Universities, 1911-1972. Social Studies of Science. (in press).

Murphy K., D. Lammer, S. Lyon, B. Carter, and S.S. Jones. 2005. Breeding for organic and low-input farming systems: An evolutionary-participatory breeding method for inbred cereal grains.  Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 20: 45-55.

Li, H.J., M. Arterburn, S.S. Jones and T.D. Murray. 2005. Resistance to eyespot of wheat, caused by Tapesia yallundae, derived from Thinopyrum intermedium homoeologous group 4 chromosome.  Theor Appl Genet. 111: 932-940.

Lammer, D., Cai, Xiwen, A. Arterburn, J. Chatelain, T.D. Murray, and S.S. Jones. 2004. A single chromosome addition from perennial Thinopyrum elongatum confers a polycarpic, perennial habit to annual wheat. Journal of Experimental Botany. Vol. 55, No 403; 1715-1720.

News Articles

WSU Bread Lab donates bread to Skagit community during pandemic

For WSU Bread Lab staff, delivering free loaves of bread is a way to bake for good and feed those in need.

The Bread Lab – located in Burlington, Washington, north of Everett – is a nonprofit that conducts research on wheat breeding. The lab works with farmers to develop new varieties of wheat, rye and barley. It also works with bakers to create nutritious, high-quality food, said Bread Lab Director Stephen Jones.

From Odesa To Your Dinner And Dram: How The War Over Fossil And Caloric Energy Supplies Is Shaping The 21st Century

When the world gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 UN climate convention, the conversation had not yet added “war in Europe” to the dual challenges of sustainability and biodiversity. Now, eight months later, in the Ukrainian port of Odesa, European Union Council President Charles Michel has described Ukrainian silos “full of grain, wheat and corn ready for export” locked in place by Russia’s wartime blockade of Black Sea ports.

Science makes bread taste better

Driving up through the rolling farmland north of Seattle this July, I was thinking about my next meal. I arrived in the small industrial park, home to the Washington State University Bread Lab, for a gathering of wheat geneticists and other grain professionals. I’d missed the explanation of the items on the buffet tables, made by attendees. I loaded my plate with about a pound of cookies from the dessert end and steadily consumed the lot. They were soft and nutty, with a rich ruddy color and a delicate crumb. I wiped buttery crumbs from my fingers. I went back for more.

Flour power: meet the bread heads baking a better loaf

he best thing since sliced bread turns out not to be sliced bread. Our supermarket loaf, which accounts for 80% of all the bread bought in the UK, is sweetish, soft and pappy. The ingredients listed on the plastic sleeve include added E-numbers, enzyme “improvers”, extra gluten, protein powders, fats, emulsifiers and preservatives. It is baked according to the Chorleywood process (named after the location of the lab where it was invented) developed in the 1960s for speed, from grain that has been milled between steel rollers, removing the germ where the oils and nutrients reside, and the bran husk where the fibre is, leaving only the endosperm, a pure starch so nutritionally void that by UK law vitamins must be added back into white flour.

Making Bread Great Again

Stephen Jones has a question for America: “Why is our bread so damn white?”

It’s a question with a host of answers. White flour tastes sweeter. It’s predictable, and easy to work with. It’s efficient. It’s stable. And all of this is reinforced by habit.

But Jones, a professor at Washington State University who runs a research program called The Bread Lab, doesn’t find any of those answers satisfying.*

Instead, he’s breeding new varieties of wheat, and pushing consumers to expect more of their loaves—more nutrition, more flavor, and more variety. He spoke on Tuesday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, perched on the edge of the stage, his legs dangling below, with a soft voice and an endearing grin.

Redefining Bread

The past few years of upheaval in how people grow, cook, think about, and eat food has left no corner of the supermarket untouched. Even bread, that most ancient, simple, beloved staple of diets around the world, has been the subject of both crisis and passionate revitalization. But behind every machine-sliced sandwich bread or carefully crafted artisan loaf is a simple question of language.

Against the Grain. Should You go Gluten-Free?

Just after Labor Day, the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo stopped for a weekend at the Meadowlands Exposition Center. Each year, the event wends its way across the country like a travelling medicine show, billing itself as the largest display of gluten-free products in the United States. Banners hung from the rafters, with welcoming messages like “Plantain Flour Is the New Kale.”

The Man Who Could Make Everyone’s Bread Taste Better

If anyone ever assembled a crop-breeding all-star team, Washington State University’s Dr. Stephen Jones would be the captain. Jones, a wheat breeder, pals around with chefs like Blue Hill‘s Dan Barber and Tartine‘s master baker Chad Robertson, while his facilities, located about an hour north of Seattle, have become a sort of unofficial national headquarters for people interested in bread at its most fundamental level: the seed itself.

Baking with Unusual Wheats

Thousands of varieties, all with different flavors and uses? It’s a whole new world of flour out there, where freshness and variety are revolutionizing the way we bake.  In a low-slung research building in the heart of Washington’s Skagit Valley, professor Stephen Jones stands next to his random scribbles on a chalkboard. They read: “Grassy. Spice. Hay. Fresh-bright.”

Geneticist Teaches Farmers about Wheat

When it comes to growing wheat, veteran plant geneticist Stephen Jones believes Mother Nature knows best.

A Perennial Search for Perfect Wheat

Jones’ pursuit of a wheat variety that sprouts year after year instead of dying after producing seed was featured in the science section of the New York Times. Through crosses of wheat and wild grasses, Jones, Timothy Murray, chair and professor of plant pathology, and a bevy of graduate students, have bred perennial wheat that will sprout year after year. But significant challenges remain before growers get any seed.

Zoology 61: Teaching Eugenics at WSU

In the end it just ended. No arguments, no intellectual battles among faculty, no acknowledgement of racial hygiene programs. At Washington State College at least, there just weren’t enough students who wanted to take Zoology 61, Eugenics. By the beginning of 1950, only six students had pre-enrolled in the course for the following school year, down from 12 the year before. In a memo to the faculty on January 17, 1950, the instructor, Professor Ray Moree, stated, “Enrollment in Zool. 61, Human Heredity and Eugenics is not sufficiently high to justify its continuation; it is believed this course can be replaced by a new one which will meet the needs of a larger number of students.” The staff of the Department of Zoology met one week later. Item number 2 on the agenda was Zoology 61. The only record was “Motion Farner, second McNeil. Discontinue Zool. 61. Carried by staff.” And that was it. After 30 years, the faculty had dropped course number 61.