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The California Avocado Commission announced two staff additions March 16. Jonathan Dixon, a former research scientist at the New Zealand Avocado Growers' Association & Industry Council Ltd., has been hired as research program director.

Dr. Dixon has 30 years of experience in the avocado, horticulture, plant science, plant health and molecular bioscience realms. He has strong research and industry networks in California, South Africa, Spain, Australia and Israel.

As research program director, his responsibilities will include research project management, outreach and communications, and development of research strategy, such as identification of industry research priorities aimed at strengthening industry competitiveness, sustainability and profitability. While at the New Zealand Avocado Growers' Association, Dr. Dixon's achievements included developing and implementing a plan to commercialize 11 new avocado cultivars, designing and implementing research aimed at improving productivity, and introducing a traceback system for royalty collection.

He earned a doctorate in plant physiology, a master's degree in horticultural science in post-harvest physiology and a bachelor's degree of horticultural science from Massey University in New Zealand.

The commission also announced that Angie Hanson has joined the organization as communications manager for industry affairs. Ms. Hanson, who brings nearly five years of produce industry experience to the position, comes from Christopher Ranch, where she worked in public relations and marketing since August 2008.

Ms. Hanson, who earned a bachelor of science degree in print journalism from Kansas State University, served as a staff writer for The Packer newspaper for three years prior to her stint at Gilroy, CA-based Christopher Ranch. In her new commission role, Ms. Hanson will assume multiple responsibilities, including maintaining communications with growers and handlers; managing technical programs; assisting the research program director; and coordinating industry statistics related to the production and distribution of domestic and imported avocados.