YChenYolanda Chen, Associate Professor

Yolanda received her PhD from UC Berkeley in 2001, studying the tritrophic consequences of sunflower domestication with Steve Welter. As a postdoc, she studied the invasion genetics of Rhagoletis completa to examine if bottlenecks associated with invasions may influence local adaptation. Following an interest in food security and sustainable development, she spent  2004-2007 as an entomologist at the International Rice Research Institute, where she had active programs studying the ecology and genetics of rice pests such as the brown planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens) and the yellow stemborer (Scirpophaga incertulas). She started at the University of Vermont in 2008. She is interested in the origins of agriculture and how historical and current human activities shape the ecology and evolution of insect pests. Her broad goals are to understand how to “farm with nature” sustainably within a globalized world. She has a wide array of interests that include pest evolution, insect-plant interactions, crop domestication, evolutionary ecology, population genetics, phylogeography, epigenetics, genomics, insecticide resistance, and geography.

Other Languages: 中文 (Fluent), Español (Intermediate)

C. V.

Graduate Students

Kristiaprofilen Brevik, Ph.D. student

I’m interested, broadly, in the way that humans shape environments and the species that inhabit them. I plan to use genomic techniques to explore how Colorado Potato Beetle became the pest that we now encounter, and how it is so adaptable in the face of numerous stressors, including pesticides and climate. I aim for these goals to be applicable both in understanding the evolution of insects and adapting agriculture to remain productive in a changing world.

Version 3Elisabeth Hodgdon, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

I’m interested in working with growers to develop agricultural practices that consider the ecology of pests as well as the economics and practical considerations of their implementation on farms. My Ph.D. research objective is to better understand the mating behavior of swede midge and use this information to test cost-effective pheromone mating disruption systems for its management. I work with our collaborators in Canada at the University of Guelph conducting on-farm trials in Ontario testing this management strategy.

Chase2Chase Stratton, Ph.D. student

I am interested in understanding species interactions to develop an ecologically-based pest management system. Through research developed at Virginia Commonwealth University (B.S. in Biology), I was able to determine how location of a companion plant influences natural control by beneficial insects in a field setting. As a PhD candidate, I will work to disrupt host location of Contarinia nasturtii (swede midge), an invasive pest of Brassica crops, using companion plants and non-host plant phytochemicals.

Undergraduate Research Assistants and Interns

picturePaolo Filho

I’m a senior undergraduate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, majoring in ecological agriculture. As a member of the Honors College, I’m currently working on my senior thesis. I’m interested in insect ecology, specifically looking at tritrophic interactions and biological pest control. After graduation I would like to pursue a Masters degree in insect ecology. Other hobbies include music, food, hiking, and soccer.

lab post photoPhoebe Judge

I’m a senior majoring in Environmental Biology at Columbia University. My work here focuses on gaining a better understanding of swede midge olfaction. Specifically, I am investigating the behavioral response of males to certain non-host plant volatiles, and the ability of these compounds to repel males from mating sites and/or inhibit their ability to locate females. Broadly, my research interests include insect-plant interactions, fungi-plant interactions, pathogen ecology, landscape ecology, and biogeography. My main goal for the future is to contribute to the science that helps farm owners maintain the profitability of organic and small, low-input farms. My other goal is to identify a new plant species!

LaurelLaurel Martinez

I am a senior at the University of Vermont studying environmental science with a concentration in conservation biology. Currently, I’m working as research technician in the Insect Agroecology and Evolution lab. My interests are broadly in ecology and specifically plant-animal interactions which drew me to the research involving swede midge and how the species interacts with its host plants.

Ross website Ross Pillischer

My name is Ross Pillischer and I am a Zoology major here at The University of Vermont. I enjoy research because it allows me to have a “hands-on” approach at tackling issues concerning the environment and the organisms inhabiting it. I am currently studying biological controls of the swede midge: an invasive species that has been decimating brassica crops in Europe, Canada, and Northeastern US. I aspire to one day be a veterinarian; I know that the skills I acquire here in lab will guide my aspirations along with fostering me with role models, companions, and an experience I will remember for a lifetime.

img_5053-1Sean Quigley

I am a freshman studying biology at the University of Vermont. My interests include ecological genetics and epigenetics. I am currently trying to get lab experience and gain a better understanding of my interests.

Graduate Alumni

RachelRachel Schattman (Ph.D. 2016; advised by Dr. Ernesto Mendez)

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, USDA Northeast Region Climate Hub



GemelleGemelle Brion (M.Sc. 2015)

Soil Conservationist, USDA NRCS, Eastern Shore, MD




Tara Madsen-Steigmeyer (Ph. D. 2014)



Vic collecting L. decemlineata beetles in MexicoVictor Izzo (Ph. D. 2013) – Permanent Lecturer, Dept. of Plant and Soil Sciences



Undergraduate Alumni

Rebecca Roman (anticipated 2017)

Oliver Bevan (B.S. 2016)

Brennan Kensey (B.S. 2016)

Leila Rezvani (B.A. 2016)

Samuel Zuckerman (B.S. 2016)

Kathryn Jacobs (B.S. 2015)

Anna Grubb (B.S. 2015)

Hannah Eiseman (B. S. in Biology, 2014)

Danielle Bartolanzo (B. S. in Biology, 2014)