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.

Graduate Students

Kristiaprofilen Brevik, Ph. D. candidate

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.

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Elisabeth Hodgdon, Ph.D. candidate

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.

RachelRachel Schattman, Ph. D. candidate (advised by Dr. Ernesto Mendez)

I’m a PhD student working on research related to climate change and farming practices in the northeastern United States. I returned to the University of Vermont for my MS in natural resources in 2007, and until beginning my doctoral work, served as the local food program coordinator at UVM Extension’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture. My professional interests and expertise include domestic food security, local scale agriculture and market development, community outreach, and qualitative research methods.  My PhD research includes a study of spotted wing drosophila and management strategies on Vermont berry farms. I own and operate Bella Farm, LLC, a certified organic vegetable farm located in Monkton, Vermont.

Chase2Chase Stratton, Ph. D. candidate

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

Oliver Bevan

Christian DeRoy

Photo Jul 14, 12 59 55 PM Katie Jacob




Brennan Kensey

Slack for iOS UploadPatryk Lasiuk




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_1792 (1)Julia Ramseyer

I am a microbiology major and an English minor. I’m very interested in how things work on a molecular level. I am currently researching how the essential oils of different plant species affect swede midge survival on broccoli.


Leila Rezvani

Bio photoRebecca Roman

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.

Samuel ZuckermanIMG_0936

I am a senior about to get my degree in Environmental Sciences. I am interested in understanding the complex interactions in our natural ecosystems and figuring out how we can stop destroying our natural resources. My research involves developing a damage threshold for the invasive swede midge on cauliflower. When I’m not pipetting swede midge larvae I like to be outdoors hiking, rock climbing, and skiing.

Graduate Alumni

Gemelle Gemelle 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) – Full-time Lecturer, Dept. of Plant and Soil Sciences



Undergraduate Alumni

Anna Grubb (B.S. 2015)

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

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