YChenYolanda Chen, Associate Professor

  • Ph.D. Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, 2001
  • B.S. Natural Resource Management, Rutgers University, NJ 1995

Yolanda is interested in the origins of agriculture and how historical and current human activities shape the emergence of  insect as pests. Her broad goals are to understand how to “farm with nature” within a globalized world. She is interested in basic questions, such as how has the origin of agriculture shaped insect-plant interactions, as well as applied questions on exploiting insect ecology and evolution to improve pest control. She has a wide array of interests including: pest evolution, insect-plant interactions, crop domestication, evolutionary ecology, population genetics, phylogeography, epigenetics, genomics, insecticide resistance, and how biodiversity is shaped within the Anthropocene.

Other Languages: Mandarin Chinese/中文 (Fluent), Spanish/Español (Intermediate)

C. V.

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.

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

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. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, hiking, triathlon training, gardening, and improving my French.

Jorge A. Ruiz-Arocho, M.Sc. student

Broadly, my interests are centered around entomology, arthropodology, and ecology. Specifically, I’m interested in understanding how the interactions between anthropogenic effects and invertebrate communities affects and molds arthropod populations and biodiversity. During my M.Sc. I’ll be studying how crop domestication in Mexico has shaped the insect biodiversity associated with these plants. My studies will be focused on wild progenitors and cultivated crops and the insects associated with them across multiple Mexican states. Also, I’m interested in plant-insect interactions and arthropod taxonomy, biogeography, and food webs. My hobbies include reading, drawing, cooking, hiking and everything else that includes nature.

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

picturePaolo Filho

I’m a recent graduate from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where I majored in ecological agriculture. As a member of the Honors College, I completed my thesis in the Insect Agroecology and Evolution Lab, which tested the effects of plant defense elicitors on swede midge host plant selection. I’m interested in insect ecology, specifically looking at tritrophic interactions and biological pest control. I would like to pursue a Masters degree in insect ecology in the future. My other hobbies include music, food, hiking, and soccer.

Sean Quigley (co-advised by Stephanie McKay)

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


Justine Samuel

I am a senior biological sciences major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Honors College. I’m interested in understanding how swede midge responds to different essential oils and pheromones. I am interested generally in co-evolution, habituation and chemical ecology. My favorite part of my home country, Singapore, is the wide variety of interesting insects you can find there.

Andrea Swan

Graduate Alumni

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

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, USDA Northeast Region Climate Hub and Food Safety Specialist, University of Vermont Vegetable and Berry Program


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

Erin Johnson (anticipated 2019)

Dylan Samson-McKenna (anticipated 2019)

Sophie Granberry (2017)

Maggie Williams (2017)

Laurel Martinez (2017)

Ross Pillischer (2017)

Phoebe Judge (Columbia University, 2017)

Rebecca Roman (2017)

Oliver Bevan (2016)

Brennan Kensey (2016)

Leila Rezvani (2016)

Samuel Zuckerman (2016)

Kathryn Jacobs (2015)

Anna Grubb (2015)

Hannah Eiseman (2014)

Danielle Bartolanzo (2014)