YChenYolanda Chen

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, working on the ecology and genetics of the brown planthopper and the yellow stemborer. She started as an Assistant Professor at University of Vermont in 2008. With an interest in understanding how to farm within a globalized world, she has a broad set of interests that include pest control, insect-plant interactions, crop domestication, phylogeography, evolutionary ecology and genetics, genomics, insecticide resistance, and geography.

Graduate Students

Vic collecting L. decemlineata beetles in MexicoDr. Victor Izzo (Graduated Dec. 2013)




Tara_picDr. Tara Madsen-Steigmeyer (Graduated April 2014)

Tara is currently studying the phylogenomics of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata using Rad-tag sequencing. She is based at UC Berkeley and co-advised by Dr. Neil Tsutsui.



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.

Gemelle Gemelle Brion, MS Candidate

I’m interested in the merging of on-farm ecology, the feasibility for farmers to implement practices that are environmentally sound, and knowledge exchange.  As an M.S. candidate, I will be studying plant-insect interactions that occur within agricultural settings to understand ecological mechanisms that play a part in the success of intercropping systems.  With a solid understanding of the way in which intercropping systems function, I hope to uncover candidate plant species that may be used in intercropping systems to control Swede midge damage on Brassica species.  I additionally hope to tie social or economic considerations in to a proposed pest management cropping system.

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.

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

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

Undergraduate thesis students

Hannah_Patagonia-1Hannah Eiseman

Hannah is an undergraduate student who is currently working on a project involving induced resistance of broccoli plants in response to swede midge damage. Her interests include plant-animal interactions, specifically pollination systems, and conservation biology.

Danielle Danielle Bartolanzo

Danielle is interested in the impact of invasive insects on crops. She is currently researching the invasive pest, Swede midge, a specialist for Brassica plants and how it may be repelled through the use of non-host plant essential oils.


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Greta_PicGreta Dupuis

I am a senior in the Rubenstein School of Natural Resources, studying Environmental Science focusing on agriculture and the environment. I am currently working in the lab on identifying insect orders and families. I also work in Kimberly Wallin’s lab at the Vermont Forest Service identifying insects to determine forest health. I also have a puppy named Lucca