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Current Graduate Students


Antonia Alvardo
Research Interests: My undergraduate studies largely focused on how human behavior and cultural differences affect infectious disease transmission, illuminating how anthropology can explain the context for certain health behaviors. It wasn’t until interning at the NYC Department of Health, while studying how Culex pipiens mosquitoes evolved to inhabit in specific NYC sewers, that I discovered the complex connection between vector-borne diseases, insect vectors,  and human behavior. I am now pursuing an MS in Vector-Borne Disease Biology and working in the Harrington Lab to understand the ecology of disease vectors. I am interested in how humans shape pathogen behavior/evolution and how our behavior has contributed to the rise of emerging and re-emerging vector-borne diseases like Zika virus, Dengue virus, or even bubonic plague.
Research Interests: In the last few months, I have found a real interest in host-behavior manipulation. Looking at the neuro-mechanisms behind behavioral changes sounds incredible. Also after spending time at the Cocha Cashu research station in Manu National Park, Peru, I have found interest in ecology such as how members of the same species interact and acquire resources.
Research Interests: I aspire to research on understanding the insect behavior integrating ecological, molecular, chemical ecological and physiological aspects of plant-insect interactions. Beyond behavioral studies, I am also inspired by the studies that focus on tritropic interactions among predators, pests and plants, and the habitat manipulations for integrated pest management. My goal is to understand the mechanistic and ecological understanding of insect-plant interaction that aid in developing Integrated Pest Management strategies for managing agricultural pests.
Hayden Bock
Research Interests: I have always been interest in how very small changes can have cascading effects that alter many aspects of an ecosystem. My research interests are broad, but I am mainly interested in soil ecology, nutrient cycling and tritrophic interactions in ecosystems. As an undergrad I split my time between a root ecology lab and a plant-insect interaction lab. In the former I focused on how root morphologies and mycorrhizal associations of trees influence nutrient cycling in temperate forests, and in the latter I studied how above- and belowground spatial complexity in agroecosystems modifies arthropod diversity, soil health and weed competition. As a graduate student I hope to mesh these past experiences and learn new skills as I investigate the role nutrient sources and gradients play in structuring tri-trophic interactions and biodiversity in ecosystems.
Mark Buckner
Research Interests: The foundation of my research interest is in the application of molecular biology, microbiology, and ecology to create a comprehensive view of insect evolution and symbiosis. Building upon that foundation, I am fascinated by the variability of insect-microbe interactions, the nuances of adaptation to symbiosis, and the potential to leverage these research outcomes for agricultural pest and vector control or conservation
Research Interests: 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.
Research Interests: I am interested in host-microbe interactions, and I am specifically interested in the Drosophila gut microbiome. I want to study evolution in context of the microbiome such as how does host genetic variation impact its gut microbiome and vice versa. I currently investigate the potential role the Drosophila melanogaster microbiome may have in the tradeoff of surviving environmental stress and infection.
Research Interests: “I am interested in the ecology and sustainable management of pollinators and herbivorous insects in agroecosystems.  In graduate school, I plan to study how plants manage multiple mutualists and antagonists under variable biotic and abiotic conditions. It is my goal to communicate my research through Cornell Cooperative Extension and other public outreach avenues.
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: 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. 
Nathalia Florez
Research Interests: I am broadly interested in systematics, evolution, and biogeography, with a deep focus on native bees. Since my Bachelor's degree, I have worked with this fascinating group, studying the mutualistic interactions between bee and plant communities in a Dry Tropical Forest. For my MS I studied the taxonomic delimitation and systematics of a bee subgenus for the Neotropics. As a Ph.D. student, I expected to understand the specialist interactions between bees and plants under an evolutive perspective, considering which phenotypic traits allow these close interactions
Research Interests: From an early age Nicole knew she was passionate about human, animal, and environmental health yet it was not until she began her career at Western Carolina University that she discovered the concept of One Health. At WCU Nicole earned a B.S. in Environmental Health which exposed her to the multidisciplinary field of protecting and improving human health. Nicole's passion for vector borne diseases and how they play into this One Health triad began when she completed a summer internship with Forsyth County Public Health Department's vector control unit conducting mosquito surveillance and public service requests. Following this experience, Nicole began working with Dr. Brian Byrd in the Western Carolina University Vector-Borne and Infectious Disease laboratory. Nicole hopes to apply her skills in a way to help improve and facilitate vector control for rural areas similar to where she grew up. In her free time Nicole likes to go hiking, reading dystopian books, stargazing and hanging out with her cat!
Research Interests: I am a graduate student co-advised by Dr. Brian Lazzaro (Entomology) and Dr. Mariana Wolfner (Molecular Biology and Genetics). My research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that determine the trade-off between reproduction and immunity in Drosophila melanogaster. Mated females have a lower capacity to induce antimicrobial gene expression, and have a higher bacterial load and higher risk of death than virgin females after infection. Previous research has shown that sex peptide, a seminal fluid protein, activates production of juvenile hormone in the female corpus allatum. Juvenile hormone promotes egg production, but also suppresses the immune response. I am interested in determining 1) how investment of resources to egg production, particularly yolk proteins, limits immune response and 2) the mechanism through which juvenile hormone directly or indirectly suppresses immunity. 
Research Interests: I’m principally interested in the interactions of social insects with microbial symbionts. I am curious to see how microbes, when associated with insect societies, impact the behavior and physiology of the individual insects, as well as the social behaviors of the entire society. I’m also interested in the role that microbial symbionts played in shaping the evolution of different social insect species.
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.
Chloe Jelley
Research Interests: My research interests: I am generally interested in the ecology and evolutionary history of ants. My research goals include exploring functional trait diversity in relation to both biotic and abiotic factors
Research Interests: “I am interested in exploring how soil fauna can be managed to increase crop production while improving soil health. I hope to develop our understanding of the relationships between soil properties, mesofauna communities, and plant growth."
Research Interests: Insect sociality and communication, chemical ecology, and invasive ecology are my top three interests. I am interested in the underlying factors/mechanisms that drive sociality among insect populations and the different signals and interactions they share with other surrounding organisms (plants, fungi, other root herbivores and soil arthropods). I am also very curious about asking questions surrounding invasive entomology (basic natural history research, epidemiological impacts of introduced species, impacts on native landscapes of flora and fauna) in the chemical ecology context. In studying these specific relationships, I believe there is great potential for applied and interdisciplinary research opportunities. 
Phoebe Koenig
Research Interests: Social insects organize through decentralized systems to accomplish colony-level goals. I study the individual behaviors and social communications that allow this organization. I am interested in how individuals in eusocial colonies balance self-interest with effort towards the colony, and how this may change across contexts. 
Lidia Komondy
Research Interests: My research interests involve the ecology and management of plant-pathogenic arthropods within vegetable cropping systems. Specifically, I am interested in programs that elucidate the most economically and ecologically sustainable management decisions in both conventional and organic agricultural programs. In my past research, I have focused on themes such as integrated pest management, biological control, insect genomics and bioinformatics, and the epidemiology of insects that transmit harmful plant pathogens (specifically phytoplasmas and viruses). My future research interests include applied programs focused on building strong relationships with vegetable growers, stakeholders, extension personnel, and faculty to implement changes to address the evolving needs of the vegetable industry while maintaining responsible ecological practices.
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.
Jamie Morgan
Research Interests: Jamie will join the lab in the fall of 2020. She is from Indiana and earned her BS in Human Biology from Indiana University in 2017. While at IU, she participated in One Health research of tourism and zoonoses in South Africa. After graduating from IU, she worked as the vector control and GIS coordinator at the Lake County Indiana Health Department. She is interested in a One Health approach to learning about disease vectors and transmission. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, and watching the Chicago Cubs.
Lidane Noronha
Research Interests: After working with the National Drosophila Species Stock Center, now here at Cornell, I am broadly interested in the evolution of feeding behaviours of various Drosophila species. Specifically, the genetic and environmental reasons behind their diverse diets through its impact on host fitness and immunity.
Research Interests: My major research interests broadly pertain to the taxonomic and identifiable characteristics of
insects and arthropods. Particularly, I am interested in utilizing classification techniques in the
diagnosis and sustainable eradication of invasive insect species. In addition to conducting relevant
research, I hope to use my academic experience to educate the public through outreach and
volunteering opportunities.
Research Interests: 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.  
Research Interests: Jaime Ortiz is a Galápagueño dedicated to preserving island ecosystems. For his doctorate, Jaime will be studying the invasive earthworms in the Galapagos Islands, which together with invasive ants may be contributing to the spread of invasive plant populations. Jaime’s goal is to understand the introduction history of invasive earthworms and their evolutive response to the hostile environment of the Galapagos and to the co-occurrence of other invasive species, using mainly phylogenetic tools.
Luke Pfannenstiel
Research Interests: I am interested in researching the genetics behind pesticide resistance in insects of agricultural importance. After taking a class on genetic editing my junior year of college, the use of CRISPR Cas9 as a means of pest control has also become an interest of mine. I have performed research on both field crop and stored product pests, and my goal is to use research to find pest control methods that circumvent genetic resistance in order to prevent loss of foodstuffs.
Joseph Poggi
Research Interests: Joe Poggi joined the lab in the Summer of 2019 as a research technician. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of New Hampshire in 2018. At UNH, Joe studied the impacts of white nose syndrome on little brown bats and other disease ecology systems, which prompted his interest and fascination with disease systems. He is now working to complete his Master of Public Health entomology with research interests in integrated vector management as well as using modern mapping tools to enhance effectiveness of mosquito and tick vector control. He hopes to work in the Northeast as an entomologist after graduating. In his spare time he loves to play and record music with friends, and enjoying nature through hunting, fishing and foraging.
Research Interests: Interviewing by Skype/Zoom I am a graduate student from Brazil. I have been studying Neotropical
Drosophilidae ecology, species identification (based on external morphology and male terminalia
analysis) and taxonomy, as well as evolution in a Neartic Drosophila species. My research interests
are speciation, ecology, taxonomy, and phylogenetics, and Hawaiian Drosophilidae would be an
outstanding model for my studies.
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: : As an entomologist and ecologist, I am fascinated not only by the incredible diversity insects display in both morphology and natural history, but also by their ability to shape their environment through interactions with other organisms and each other. I am particularly interested in the outcome of these interactions in a world where both insects and the landscapes they occupy are changing rapidly due to human activity. In my dissertation work I am investigating how landscape mediated changes in insect herbivores, pollinators and natural enemies affect their interactions with non-crop plants coexisting in modified landscapes and the resulting consequences for plant evolution.
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.
Morgan Swobda
Research Interests: I am broadly interested in the role that plant associated microbes play in plant defense against herbivores and if these microbes could also have a role in minimizing the impact of abiotic stresses. I am also interested in how soil characteristics may impact microbes and their performance. I am currently focused on entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) and their potential for use in deterring root-feeding herbivores in turfgrasses. 
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.