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Current Graduate Students

Research Interests:
I am fascinated by the sensory ecology of plants, insects that eat plants, and the predators that eat those insects.  My research focuses primarily on chemical and acoustic communication with the goal of revealing pest solutions that can be found in nature. NickAflitto.com
 
Research Interests:
I am passionate about insect biology and systematics and I have a particularly strong interest in bees. My research interests are in line with this passion; I primarily focus on the phylogeny and systematics of bees using molecular and morphological methods. Specifically, I use newly developed hybrid-based targeted enrichment methods to capture hundreds to thousands of ultraconserved elements (UCEs) from published genomes and non-model taxa. I am keen to apply diverse phylogenetic methodologies, especially contrasting concatenation and coalescent-based species tree methods, as well as using species trees to conduct ancestral state reconstructions and biogeographical hypothesis testing. Besides my methodological focus, I am highly interested in historical and present-day bee faunistics, changing species compositions and cryptic species. My taxonomic emphasis mainly addresses the diverse Nomiinae (Halictidae), as well as bumblebees (Bombus, Apidae).
Research Interests:
Starting this fall, I will begin working with Dr. Greg Loeb investigating chemical ecology and pathogen biology in spotted wing drosophila. The goal behind our work is tease out interactions that we can use to our advantage in a small fruit pest management program. In the past, I worked under Dr. John Burand and Dr. Joe Elkinton at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst studying virus prevalence in managed and natural insect pollinators as well as molecular characteristics of forest pest pathogens. Moving forward, I am interested in disease dynamics between insects and agricultural systems, namely how plant and insect pathogens move through agroenvironments and how they alter insect and plant behaviors.
Research Interests:
I am a graduate student in Dr. Kyle Wickings’ lab. I am interested in soil arthropod ecology and the role of microarthropods related to belowground carbon cycling as well as microarthropod effects on microbial communities in horticultural and agricultural systems.    
Research Interests: I am interested in the evolution of life history traits, specifically patterns of generalist vs. specialist diets. My dissertation is focused on examining the physiological adaptations of the squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa, to its specialist diet, using chemical analysis and transcriptomic tools. Although I currently study bees, I love all insects and have spent a lot of quality time with my collecting net in Canada, the United States, Barbados, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, and The Bahamas.
Research Interests: The human population is growing and agricultural production must keep up with it! Fruit and seed-set of most crops is dependent upon pollination, yet honeybees appear to be in decline. The pollination gap this has created is currently being filled by solitary bees. As humans change their landscape to produce more crops, what are the ramifications for our solitary pollinators? I study the mason bee Osmia cornifrons to answer this question. At the landscape scale, I am using historical data to document temporal and spatial range changes of this species across the Eastern Seaboard. Locally, I am placing bees in New York apple orchards that range from agricultural to natural surroundings and analyzing their pollen to quantify host-plant diversity and pesticide content. I will follow these field experiments with laboratory experiments to deduce which specific diets and pesticides are most detrimental and/or beneficial to solitary bee fitness. If we understand what conditions are most beneficial for solitary bees, we can design agriculture with them in mind, and conserve both bees and agricultural production.
Research Interest: I am pursuing an MS/PhD in Entomology with the purpose of contributing in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of insect resistance under specific environment conditions, including their effects on ecological processes at the community and ecosystem. I would like to drive a project under the mentorship of Dr. Ping Wang with the purpose of studying insect resistance to pesticide and intoxication pathways in an attempt to improve the chances of survival of the plant, and contributing to the production of better products for our agricultural industry. The idea would be to focus on the evolution of pesticide resistance in insect populations with implication for the development of novel pest management strategies.
Ethan Degner
Research Interests: I hope to improve the human condition by studying medical entomology. I would like to study mosquito ecology and reproduction. I hope to develop novel methods with which mosquito populations may be controlled in order to curb the transmission of diseases, such as dengue and malaria.
Research Interests: I am broadly interested in the ecology and conservation of native pollinators. For my master’s dissertation at the University of Oxford, I investigated the prevalence of pathogens in syrphid flies. At Cornell, I would like to study the potential effects of disease, pesticide exposure, and climate change on the ability of native pollinators to fulfill critical pollination services. Under the supervision of Dr. Scott McArt, I hope to translate the scientific results into policy suggestions and guidelines.
Research Interests: My field of interest is ecology as it applies to decomposition and forensic entomology and I am applying as an MS student in Entomology. I am fascinated by all aspects of vertebrate decomposition and the arthropods associated with the process. As an undergrad at Cornell I have worked with Dr. Shields on a project in association with Colorado Mesa University’s Forensic Investigation Research Station to better understand the necrophagous and saprophagous fauna associated with cadavers in semi-arid environments. Dr. Shields and I are hoping to continue and expand this project by conducting experiments into how desiccation can impact the succession of insects on a cadaver.
Research Interests: I am a graduate student in Dr. Kyle Wickings' lab. My interests include soil health, above- and below-ground biotic interactions, and the range of ecosystem services that soil dwelling organisms provide to agricultural crops. My research will investigate the trade-offs between soil health management practices and pest management tactics. Specifically, I'll be looking at the effects of pesticide use practices on soil fauna and microbial activity, and the implications for soil biological processes such as fertility and biological control.
Research Interest:
I am broadly interested in applied ecological research and conservation biology of pollinators. I am working with Dr. Scott McArt in the fascinating field of bumble bee epidemiology, with a focus on floral features influencing disease transmission. I am interested in exploring disease distribution/spread at a network scale through time.
Research Interests: I studied ecology and evolutionary biology as an undergraduate, followed by a fifth year Masters of Public Health with a concentration in epidemiology of microbial diseases. I am interested in combining these two fields of study as they relate to Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The complexity of the way in which the ecology of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes is intertwined with the social structure of humans is fascinating. Under the guidance of Professor Laura Harrington, I hope to investigate methods by which to harness the natural ecology and biology of these mosquitoes to control their population and ultimately reduce the burden of disease. 
Research Interest: I am applying as a M.S. student under Dr. Jeff Scott.  I am interested broadly in the diversity of insects and the genetics that underpin the evolution of this diversity.  As a strong potential driver of evolution, insecticide pressure is an interesting system for answering theoretical evolutionary questions with a practical bent that is very attractive to me.  I hope to work further exploring the molecular basis of insecticide resistance in Thrips tabaci, but also have interest in the well-explored system of the house fly. 
Research Interests I am interested in chemical communication in bi and tri-trophic interactions between plants and insects. In particular, i am interested in how invasive species interact with organisms in their novel range and how this can lead to rapid evolution. My research combines mathematical modeling and empirical studies.
Research Interests: My goal is to promote healthy plant populations through integrated pest management, whether it be in a greenhouse or forest setting. I am applying to Cornell for the MS in Entomology program, and have spoken with Dr. Sanderson about exploring more effective biological control for greenhouse pests such as thrips and aphids. I am especially interested in studying the life cycle and behavior of beneficial species, in order to better incorporate them into IPM programs.
Research Interests:
I am interested in population and community ecology, primarily of insects and other invertebrates within the soil. The cryptic nature of the soil environment and the small size of many soil organisms mean that even basic ecological interactions are difficult to study. As such, soil can be difficult to manage and manipulate to ensure proper deliver of ecosystem services. My thesis research will focus on the potential of soil microarthropods such as mites and springtails to reduce the biological control efficacy of entomopathogenic nematodes through predation, and how soil biotic and abiotic factors affect predation rates.
Research Interests: I am interested in studying major disease vectors, especially Aedes and Anopheles mosquitos, from the standpoint of cell and molecular biology.  I am applying to the Entomology Field because I want to cultivate broad expertise in insect physiology and phylogeny, and I am interested in pursuing projects that will translate previous work in Drosophila into studies of mosquitos.  If I am admitted to Cornell’s PhD program in entomology, I plan to work under the guidance of Dr. Buchon to adapt his FACS/transcriptomic system to study midgut biology and host/microbe interactions in Aedes mosquitos.
Philip Houtz
Research Interests:  I am a Ph. D student in Nicolas Buchon’s lab. I am using Drosophila melanogaster as a model to study the genetic networks that control epithelial turnover in the gut. Specifically, I am interested in the mechanisms that control enterocyte extrusion from the epithelial layer, how this cellular delamination is coordinated with cytokine signaling to induce appropriate proliferation and differentiation responses in intestinal stem cells, and how the activity of bacteria within the gut can disrupt or maintain these events. My work should provide new, detailed insight into the cellular events that are responsible for maintaining gut homeostasis and integrity, and how different bacterial interactions may shape these processes. 
Research Interests:  Joo Hyun graduated from Grinnell College in 2010 with a BA in Biology and Global Development Studies. Prior to graduate school, she worked with Dr. Rachel Brem at UC Berkeley and Dr. Mimi Shirasu-Hiza at Columbia University studying natural genetic variation of salt response in Saccharomyces yeast and fly virus respectively. For more information, please see her linkedin page.
Research Interests:  I am a graduate student in Dr. Nault’s lab. I’m interested in exploring integrated pest management (IPM), environmental sustainability, and insect ecology. Specifically, I am studying a novel multi-faceted IPM strategy to help onion growers manage Onion Thrips and Iris Yellow Spot Virus within their fields.
Research Interests:  I am broadly interested in insect ecology and natural history, and particularly in community and landscape ecology. For my M.Sc. research at Purdue University, I focused on behavioral and chemical ecology of ants. Specifically, I studied odorous house ants, a native North American ant which has an extremely variable social structure which seems to relate in some way to its success in urban areas. For my PhD at Cornell, I would like to focus on community ecology in agroecosystems under the supervision of Dr. Katja Poveda. I am particularly interested in understanding how diversity and community composition relate to ecosystem services such as pest control by natural enemies.
Research Interests:  I am interested in understanding how new morphological features develop and evolve to create the amazing diversity of forms we see in nature. Variations in morphology during evolution are the result of changes in regulatory programs during development. Thus, I want to focus on gene interactions specifically in the development of wing color patterns of Heliconius butterflies. My work should provide insights to understand what changes in developmental gene regulatory networks contribute to the formation of new phenotypes.
Research Interests:
I am interested in microbial symbiosis and understanding the chemical interactions and the underlying co-evolution that occurs between a host (in particular insects) and their microbial partners. I received my BS and MS in Microbiology from the University of Arizona under the tutelage of Patricia Stock studying the tripartite symbiosis between insects, insect pathogenic nematodes and their mutualistic bacterial partners.
Research Interests:  I am broadly interested in examining the effects of pesticides, pathogens and nutrition on pollinator health. I received my B.S. from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst where I conducted and assisted with research in above- and belowground plant-insect interactions in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and population dynamics in hemlock woolly adelgid and winter moth. For my M.S. at Cornell University, I would like to continue studying aspects of pollinator health under the supervision of Dr. Scott McArt and Dr. Brian Nault. I am particularly interested in understanding the effects of land management and practices on bumble bee performance across different landscapes.
Research Interests: I am applying to Cornell for a MS in Entomology.  My interests within the field are insect-plant interactions and landscape ecology with an emphasis on applied research.  I am largely interested in how the landscape, such as location, isolation, and size of fields influences pest populations.  I am also interested in how management within fields and in the surrounding areas, including soil management such as tillage and pesticide use, influences populations of both pests and beneficial insects.  More specifically, I would like to work with onion thrips resistance in the lab of Dr. Brian Nault, who is taking a landscape level approach to analyzing onion thrips resistance to spinetoram in onion and other field and vegetable cropping systems.  In addition to honing research skills, I would like to focus efforts on extension and outreach to become acquainted with the challenges faced by growers in the region.
Research Interest: I am agronomist, with a master degree on entomology and I am applying to Cornell as a PhD student. Since my bachelor I have been interested in the plant – insect interactions. At the beginning of my career I worked with honey bees and stingless bees, identifying their trophic niche and their potential as crop pollinators. Last years I have been more involved in pest management in tropical crops. Now, for my PhD project under the direction of Dr. Katja Poveda, I would like to combine these two aspects to develop integrated solutions for farmers, controlling pests but at the same taking care of pollinators. To do that I want to learn more about agroecology, chemical ecology and pest management strategies.  
Manuel Ricardo Perez Alvarez
Research Interests: I am interested in insect ecology and community ecology, and the application of ecological theory for risk assessment and management of transgenic crops and conventional agricultural methods. I would like to address how GM crops may affect ecological functions and associated ecosystem services of the tropical agro ecosystems using two different approaches: ecological network analysis and functional biodiversity.
Research Interests: My fields of interest include invasive species, biocontrol, pest management, ecology, and outreach. I am applying to Cornell for my Master’s in Entomology. Invasive species have always caught my interest due to their ability to survive and thrive beyond their home range. The forest is a place I call home; therefore, I want to protect forest ecosystems that are being affected by these successful intruders. I also really want to spread the word about these pests and educate people about how to help prevent further spread and future invasions. Eventually, I would like to become a college professor. At Cornell, there are two people that I would love to work with: Dr. Ann Hajek and Professor Arthur Agnello. Both have invaluable knowledge and experience with invasive species, which would be my main focus.
Research Interests: My primary research interests lie in the field of evolutionary biology. I am particularly interested in life history evolution and ecological immunology. I would like to study the mechanisms through which know modulators,  such as age, mating status, nutritional status, genetic architecture etc, affect immune function while also trying to identify novel modulators. Since my academic interests overlap with thowe of  Dr. Lazzaro's lab, I hope to work in his lab. 
Research Interests:
I am interested in the biology of vector-borne diseases. For my undergraduate research at the University of California, Los Angeles, I focused on the intersection between biology and global development; specifically, I looked at how anthropogenic impact affects animal behavior. For my Ph.D. at Cornell University, I would like to study the impact of climate change on mosquito behavior and physiology under the supervision of Laura Harrington. I am particularly interested in understanding how these changes may influence the dynamics of disease transfer.
Research Interests:  My fields of interest are biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, toxicology, and population genetics and I am applying to Cornell as a PhD student in Entomology. I am fascinated by the life cycle, behavior, and ecology of mosquitoes and other insects. More precisely, I would like to study resistance to insecticides because this is a field where I can evidence evolution happening every day to the mosquito population. Finally, I would like to drive a project under the direction of Dr. Scott: the idea would be to seek molecular markers involved in resistance to insecticides using A. aegypti as target organism.
Research Interests: I am interested in how disease-vector arthropods adapt to insecticidal and environmental stresses and how this may affect the ways in which we manage and control them. Insecticides are still the most common and often only means to control some of the most dangerous disease vectors such as the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. My research in the Scott Lab focuses on the fitness effects of insecticide resistance in A. aegypti.  Insecticide resistance in medically important organisms is of worldwide concern, especially to the regions most troubled by vector borne diseases. My goal is to help find effective management strategies to reduce disease risk while minimizing impact to the environment.
Research Interests:  I am interested in the spatial ecology of beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes. For my undergraduate and M.Sc. research at Yale University, I focused on the interaction networks of wild bee communities in old-field meadows across human impact gradients. For my Ph.D., I would like to continue studying landscape scale beneficial insect dynamics and theory-driven conservation with Prof. Bryan Danforth. I am particularly interested in understanding early season forage provisioning and factors affecting nest site availability for wild bee pollinators in apple orchards.
Research Interests: After finishing my MS work at Utah State University, I am hoping to begin a PhD program that will provide the training necessary in pursuing a career in university extension. My primary interest in research includes the development of pest management strategies, and particularly biological control, that provide sustainable control of arthropod pests in agriculture. In the northeastern U.S., cyclamen mites pose serious threats to strawberry production while little is known of their biology and management. I would like to address this issue in a PhD project with Dr. Greg Loeb at Cornell that emphasizes biocontrol, while also developing educational materials that extends this research to local growers. 
Michael Wolfin
Research Interests: My primary interests are in chemical ecology, particularly olfaction, insect chemical communication.  My project involves the investigation of the immediate basis for olfactory-mediated host and non-host differentiation by phytophagous insects so that we can better explain how specialist and generalist species differ in the way they process host odors in a 'chemically noisy' environment, and evolve from one extreme to another.