YChenYolanda Chen, Associate Professor

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: 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.

Sophie Granberry

I am a senior undergraduate student studying forestry with a concentration in community development and applied economics. I am interested in international forestry and some of the challenges that come along with international forest management (particularly in developing countries) such as pest management and the impacts of climate change.Erin Johnson

Erin Johnson

I am a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Vermont majoring in environmental science with a concentration in global climate change, and a double minor in geospatial technologies and geography. In my future career after college, I aspire to use geospatial technologies to research the global impacts of climate change such as habitat degradation and storm management risk. This is my first time working in a laboratory setting, and I am excited to expand my scientific skills.

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.


Dylan Samson-McKenna

I am a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Vermont majoring in biology with double minors in chemistry and anthropology. I have a wide range of interests, but I enjoy studying evolution, ecology, and animal behavior in particular. It is these interests that directed me towards the Insect Agroecology lab. This is my first formal lab experience, and I look forward to developing my scientific skills in the months to come.

Justine Samuel

I am a junior biological sciences major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Honors College. I’m interested in understanding how swede midges respond to different essential oils and stereoisomers of pheromones, and I’m also interested in the general biology of Lepidoptera and how this can be applied to conservation.

Maggie Williams

I am a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying Environmental Science. My interests mostly pertain to ecology, conservation biology and human interaction with the environment.  During my time in the lab I plan to explore reasons as to why the Colorado potato beetle has become such a difficult insect pest.

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

Laurel Martinez (anticipated 2017)

Ross Pillischer (anticipated 2017)

Phoebe Judge (Columbia University, anticipated 2017)

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)