Making sense of insect diversity


Nate B Hardy

I study the evolutionary ecology of plant parasites, especially insects that suck sap, but many others too.

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Elise Woodruff

MS 2022-

For her MS research, Elise is mixing experiments and population genetic modeling to better understand the evolution of virulence in plant pathogens.

Noah Bevers

MS 2019-2022

For his MS research, Noah did data science to try and improve agricultural sustainability. He used machine learning to help farmers identify what ails their crops, and reduce their use of synthetic pesticides. And he used meta-analysis to get a clearer view of the basis of virulence in plant pathogens. Noah is getting his PhD in precision agriculture at The Ohio State University

Gwendolyn Bird

PhD 2017-2021

For their PhD research, Gwendolyn used a variety of comparative statistical approaches to try and get clearer view of why some herbivorous insect clades and communities are more diverse than others. Now they are in the PR bizz!

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Chloe Kaczvinsky

MS 2017-2019

For her MS research, Chloe did a comparative phylogenetic analysis of butterflies to test predictions of the Escape and Radiation Hypothesis, that is, that herbivorous insect speciation is driven by antagonistic co-evolution with their host plants. She also used target-enriched genome sequencing to get a better estimate of the Nearctic phid phylogeny. Chloe is doing her PhD at Oxford.

Mayrolin Garcia Morales

MS 2014-2017

For her MS research, Mayrolin developed a database of scale insect biodiversity called ScaleNet. And she tested some ideas about how natural enemies might drive species diversification in plant-eating insects (leafroller moths and scale insects). After finishing her MS, Mayrolin got herself an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Now she’s doing her PhD at UMass.

Nicholas Christodoulides

MS 2014-2017

For his MS reseach, Nick compared plant-eating insect transcriptomes (samples of all of the genes being expressed in a particular organism at a particular time) to learn something about how they are able to feed on many hosts. He also did some tinkering in the greenhouse to prepare us for experimental evolution studies. Nick went on to a PhD studying the evolutionary genetics of lizards at UCF.

Linda Oforka

While doing her PhD at the University of Lagos, in Nigeria, Linda spent six months in the lab to delimit species of black flies that transmit Onchocerciasis in West Africa. Since then, she has continued to research to improve public health in Africa.