Yolanda 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.
Kristian 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.
Elisabeth Hodgdon, Ph.D. student
I’m interested in the development of alternative agricultural practices that consider the ecology of pests and landscapes as well as the economics and practical considerations of their implementation on farms. For my Master’s research at the University of New Hampshire, I explored the effects of different cover crop species on weed communities and soil quality. My Ph.D. research objective is to better understand the reproductive biology and mating behavior of swede midge and use this information to create a cost effective pheromone mating disruption system.
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
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!
I am a rising senior at the University of Vermont studying environmental science with a concentration in conservation biology. Currently, I’m working as a summer field technician for 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. Over the course of the summer, I hope to develop my own research project involving swede midge. I am currently assisting with a broccoli variety trial in the field to understand which varieties are more resistant to swede midge.
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.
I am currently working toward an Environmental Science degree focusing on Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at UVM. I am interested in studying and understanding plant and animal/insect interactions in the environment. Through the skills I have acquired assisting in the lab, I am working to develop my own scientific question about swede midge.
Gemelle Brion (M.Sc. 2015)
Soil Conservationist, USDA NRCS, Eastern Shore, MD
Tara Madsen-Steigmeyer (Ph. D. 2014)
Oliver Bevan (B.S. 2016)
Brennan Kensey (B.S. 2016)
Leila Rezvani (B.A. 2016)
Samuel Zuckerman (B.S. 2016)
Anna Grubb (B.S. 2015)
Hannah Eiseman (B. S. in Biology, 2014)
Danielle Bartolanzo (B. S. in Biology, 2014)
- Andrei Alyokhin, University of Maine, USA
- Julio Bernal, Texas A & M University, USA
- Betty Benrey, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
- Angelica Cíbrian-Jaramillo, LANGEBIO, Mexico
- Ngo Luc Cuong, Cuu Long Rice Research University, Vietnam
- Rebecca Hallett, University of Guelph, Canada
- David Hawthorne, University of Maryland, USA
- Finbarr Horgan, International Rice Research Institute, Philippines
- Leena Lindstrӧm, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
- Alessandro Grapputo, Universita de Padova, Italy
- Gail Langellotto-Rhodaback, Oregon State University, USA
- Stephanie McKay, University of Vermont, USA
- Scott Merrill, University of Vermont, USA
- Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Rutgers University, USA
- Sean Schoville, University of Wisconsin, USA
- Tony Shelton, Cornell University, USA
- Mario Vallejo-Marin, University of Stirling, UK
- Yu Xiaoping, China Jiliang University, China