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

I am interested in how historical and contemporary human activities shape the ecology and evolution of insect as pests. My broad goals are to understand how to “farm with nature” within a globalized world. I am 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. I am particularly interested in how insects have been able to evolve so rapidly and successfully to anthropogenic change. I have 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 (Fluent-oral, aural), Spanish (Intermediate)
C. V.
12/30/19 Interview on “People Behind the Science”

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.

Erika Bueno, M. Sc., Ph. D. student
I grew up in California where I attended San Francisco State University (SFSU) for my B.S. degree in Biology. I then joined the lab of Dr. Chris Moffatt at SFSU, where I obtained a M.S. in Ecology and Evolution. My master’s project examined genetic mechanisms behind behavioral manipulation in honey bees parasitized by the parasitoid fly, Apocephalus borealis. My interests involve addressing questions on adaptive evolution and stress in agricultural insect pests. For my PhD, I will be examining the role of environmental stress on epigenetic modifications to investigate the evolution of insecticide resistance in an important crop pest, the Colorado potato beetle.

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, Ph. D. 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. I am 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.

Andrea Swan, M. S. student
I see food insecurity as one of the world’s pressing social and economic issues that will only intensify with population growth, degrading land use practices, and climate change.  This is the broader issue that I hope to serve throughout my career and is a driving force behind where I find myself today. I am principally interested in plant-insect interactions and I enjoy exploring the possibility of exploiting natural interactions such as host location and mating for ecologically-based pest management solutions in agriculture. My thesis will examine patterns of emergence and mating in swede midge to maximize the efficacy of pheromone mating disruption technologies.

Dave Landay, M. S. student
I am a M.S student studying data science and complex systems at the Vermont Complex Systems Center. My interests include building models and simulation, p2p neworks, and understanding complex dynamics of social networks (and networks in general). I currently working to build an analysis pipeline to study distributions of transposable elements over gene interaction networks. I hope to better understand the role of TEs in insect genomes.

Sam Zonay, M. S. student
I am a M. S. in Complex Systems student with an interest in engineering software simulations of systems and applying the information to as many different fields as possible. I am developing a analysis pipeline for merging disparate datasets to analyze the distribution of transposable elements in the Drosophila genome. I would like to relate the TE communities to gene functions to better understand their role in the genome.


Undergraduate Researchers

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.


Emma Schoeppner, B. S. Ecological Agriculture, expected 2019
I’m a senior ecological agriculture student at UVM focusing my undergraduate education on agricultural entomology. Generally, I am interested in studying cultural control tactics that mitigate insect pest damage to crops. I was awarded the Simon Family Fellowship grant which I will use to explore how groundcovers influence the photoperiod and emergence of Swede midge. I became interested in entomology research after working for a couple farms and seeing first-hand the damage insect pests can inflict. Someday, I hope to work alongside farmers to implement novel agricultural solutions that will help them succeed in spite of the increasing environmental challenges.

Zoe Albion, B. S. in Wildlife Biology expected 2020
I’m interested in ecosystem interactions and arthropod ecosystem services. I am broadly interested in arachnid behavioral ecology, and how spiders impact Vermont agricultural systems. My primary research focus is in arachnology, and how spiders impact other arthropod members of the ecosystem. I’m looking forward to working with Erika Bueno in examining the stress-related effects of spiders interacting with the Colorado Potato Beetle.

Graduate Alumni

Jatinder Singh Sangha (Ph. D. 2007, University of Philippines Los Baños)
Research scientist Crop Physiologist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.


Vic collecting L. decemlineata beetles in MexicoVictor Izzo (Ph. D. 2013)
Lecturer, Dept. of Plant and Soil Sciences


GemelleGemelle Brion (M.Sc. 2015)
Soil Conservationist, USDA NRCS, Eastern Shore, MD


Tara_picTara Madsen-Steigmeyer (Ph. D. 2014)


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


Chase2Chase Stratton, (Ph.D. 2018; )


Undergraduate Alumni (Thesis)
Justine Samuel (2018, B. S. Biology, Honors) Ph. D. student at University of Cincinnati
Paolo Filho (2017, B. S. Ecological Agriculture)
Maggie Williams (2017)
Ross Pillischer (2017, B. S. Biology) Veterinary School at University of Pennsylvania
Phoebe Judge (2017, B. S. Environmental Sciences, Columbia University)
Samuel Zuckerman (2016)
Kathryn Jacobs (2015)
Anna Grubb (2015)
Hannah Eiseman (2014) M. S. Student at Tufts University
Danielle Bartolanzo (2014) MPh, SAS Data Analyst/Statistican II at The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine

Andrei Alyokhin, University of Maine, USA
Julio Bernal, Texas A & M University, USA
Betty Benrey, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Angelica Cíbrian-Jaramillo, LANGEBIO-CINVESTAV, Mexico
Ngo Luc Cuong, Cuu Long Rice Research University, Vietnam
Rebecca Hallett, University of Guelph, Canada
Christy Hoepting, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, USA
David Hawthorne, University of Maryland, USA
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
Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Rutgers University, USA
Sean Schoville, University of Wisconsin, USA
Tony Shelton, Cornell University, USA
Jennifer Thaler, Cornell University, USA
Yu Xiaoping, China Jiliang University, China