Meredith Spence-Beaulieu: President
Meredith is a Ph.D. Candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow under the direction of Drs. Michael Reiskind and Rob Dunn. Her research interests include the ecology of dog heartworm disease (a mosquito-vectored nematode), the effect of suburban development on mosquito assemblages, and the mechanics of mosquito host attraction. She holds a BS in Zoology with a minor in mathematics from NC State University. When not working, she can be found snuggling her beloved fur-babies: Wren the lab/poodle/shar-pei mix (labradoodlepei for short), Logan and Cora the boxers, Grim the cat, and The Great Ratsby (obviously a rat).
Jeremy Slone: Vice President
Jeremy is a Ph.D. student in Hannah Burrack’s lab focusing on integrating pest and pollinator management in the southeastern strawberry system. He recently completed his Masters at NC State working on integrated pest management (IPM) and barriers to IPM adoption in flue-cured tobacco. While in his undergrad, he studied honeybee biology and communication under Dr. Stan Schneider. He enjoys the outdoors, movies, and cooking while spending much of his free time with his wife and dogs.
James Withrow: Treasurer
James is an M.S. student studying social behavior and evolution in the lab of Dr. David Tarpy. His current research is focused on royal succession in honey bees: how workers collectively select which larvae to rear as new queens. He is also interested in the selective forces driving social evolution, caste evolution in social insects, and factors affecting queen quality in honey bees. Outside of research, James is interested in philosophy, politics, classical music, food, and wine.
Jamora Hamilton: Secretary
Jamora is a Ph.D. student and NSF Graduate Research Fellow in Dr. Coby Schal’s lab. Her current research focuses on investigating the chemical ecology and behavior of the German cockroach and urban pest management. Jamora completed a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with a minor in Entomology at Clemson University. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, listening to music, and enjoying the outdoors.
Johanna Elsensohn: Outreach Coordinator
She is a second-year Ph.D. student in Entomology, with minors in Biotechnology, and Genetic Engineering and Society. Her research focuses on the use of emerging technologies in sustainable agriculture and how scientists can communicate better with the public about those technologies. When not at school, Johanna enjoys exploring the woods, lakes, and rivers across the state.
Samantha McPherson: Bug Care-taker and Outreach Coordinator
Samantha graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2015 with a B.S. in biology. After participating in research about genetic recombination in honeybees for her last year of undergrad, she decided to pursue a graduate degree in entomology. She is currently working under Drs. Jules Silverman and Coby Schal; her work revolves around the reproduction of German cockroaches in the context of glucose aversion. Her interests include invertebrates, reptiles, her cats, and cooking. Despite some competency in the kitchen, she subsists almost entirely off of caffeine and sugar.
Sam Buzuleciu: Social Chair
Samuel (Sam) A. Buzuleciu is a Ph.D. student co-advised by Drs. Clyde Sorenson and Christopher Moorman. His current research focuses on assessing the impacts of forest management practices on arthropods and related ecosystem services. Sam completed a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, and a Master’s degree in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies, both at Coastal Carolina University. In his free time, Sam enjoys cooking, reading, and the good company of his wife and two mutts.
Gabriel Zilnik: Fundraising Chair and Social Chair
Gabriel is a Ph.D. student from Arizona studying the evolution of insects in agricultural systems. He is broadly interested in how historical patterns in pest management shape current practices and thus impact insect pests on a broad scale. He completed a BA in Anthropology from Arizona State University with a thesis on intraguild predation and scavenging in Arizona cotton systems. He spends his free time on a myriad of creative activities.
Nataraja Maheshala: Symposium Coordinator
Nataraja is a Ph.D. student in Dr. George Kennedy’s lab, and he is from India. His research interests are in unraveling the impacts of neonicotinoid resistance development in tobacco thrips, Frankliniella fusca an early season pest of peanut. He is addressing research questions such as, how resistance development in thrips affects its life cycle, feeding behavior, and virulence. He earned his B.S. from University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru and M.S. from Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Guntur. He is a fulltime researcher at ICAR-Directorate of Groundnut Research, in Junagadh, India. In his spare time, Nataraja loves to cook, watch movies and read novels. He has a specific taste for watching documentaries on world history and animal behavior.
Steve Reyna: Symposium Coordinator
Steven Reyna is a Ph.D. student from Texas studying molecular biology of insects with Dr. Marce Lorenzen. Steven has a B.S. in entomology from Texas A&M University where he studied population genetics in two agriculturally important pests of row crops. After his BS, he received his M.S. in Plant and Soil Science from Texas A&M University- Kingsville where he studied citrus mites in conventional and organic grapefruits. During his M.S. he received the Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security graduate research grant, and traveled to Kenya and spent 5 months at icipe documenting citrus pests in Kenya. In his current research, Steven is evaluating if RNAi is a feasible control for the Small hive beetle, a pest that infests honey bee hives. In his spare time, Steven likes to play guitar, BBQ, and hike with his wife Amanda.