DEPP Welcomes New Staff, Students, and Faculty

Aerial of Memorial Belltower and surrounding buildings on campus.


Headshot of Aaron AshbrookAaron Ashbrook – Postdoc (Mikaelyan and Schal Labs)

My current research focuses on screening entomopathogens against bed bugs, German cockroaches, and termites as alternative control options.


NCSU WolfJulian Bello – Postdoc (Ristaino Lab)




Sean Bloszies – Postdoc (Hu Lab)Headshot of Sean Bloszies

I am studying how chemical and biological properties (for example, pH, microbial biomass, and mineralizable carbon) as well as soil community structure (for example, abundance of certain soil nitrogen cycling genes) drive soil nitrous oxide production and whether these properties differ between organic and conventional farms.


NCSU WolfHongyu Chen – Postdoc (Rasmussen Lab)





NCSU WolfCesar Xavier – Postdoc (Whitfield Lab)





Headshot of Seth DormanSeth Dorman – Postdoc (Huseth Lab)

As a postdoctoral researcher, Seth is studying environmental drivers of lepidopteran and hemipteran pests in field crop systems using geospatial analyses.



NCSU WolfSeth Ellis – Research Technician (Villani Lab)

Beetle husband and culture specialist.




Headshot of Pathy FernandezJosefina Fernandez Moreno – Postdoc (Baars Lab)





Headshot of Gabe ZilnikGabe Zilnik – Postdoc (Burrack Lab)

I work on the application of artificial intelligence machine learning to agro-ecological land systems.




Ari Grode – Research Assistant (Gorny Lab)NCSU Wolf

I am a Research Assistant working on understanding and managing economically relevant, plant parasitic nematodes in North Carolina agriculture.



NCSU WolfFangfang Guo – Postdoc (Rasmussen Lab)

I am developing new recombination-aware phylogeographic and population genomic approaches to track the spread of agricultural pathogens.



Headshot of Janetta HakovirtaJanetta Hakovirta – Postdoc (Fagen Lab)

Using CRISPR and phage as tools to combat plant pathogens and engineer microbial communities.




NCSU WolfSurapathrudu Kanakala – Postdoc (Whitfield Lab)

I am currently modifying plant viruses as an effective tool for functional analysis of genes in plants and insect vectors.




Headshot of Ying-Yu LiaoYing-Yu Liao – Postdoc (Huerta Lab)

I am currently a postdoctoral research scientist in the Huerta lab. My research projects are focused on management of endemic and emerging bacterial diseases of Capsicum by plant resistance, novel compounds, and understanding pathogen diversity.


NCSU WolfLiliana Pimentel – Research Specialist (Burrack Lab)

At the USDA I provide technical support to IPM, biological control, and sterile insect research programs and maintains high quality host plants to support scientific research. I graduated with an M.A. in Biological Sciences where I studied harvester ant ecology and I am looking into pursuing a PhD in entomology.


NCSU WolfNicholas Pistacchio – Research Technician (Scott Lab)

I completed my undergraduate degree at Appalachian State University, and I currently work as a lab technician in the Scott lab at NC State University.


Headshot of Thomas IngramThomas Ingram – Postdoc (Louws Lab)

Host resistance and Fungal Genomics




NCSU WolfJim White – IT Analyst and Programmer (Carbone Lab)

I am a programmer and make dna analysis tools available on the internet.




Entomology Students

Headshot of Marissa ColeMarissa Cole – MS (Mikaelyan Lab)

I am a Master’s student studying the behavior, gut microbiome, and nutritional value of wood-feeding termites.




NCSU WolfRocio Davila – MS (Burrack Lab)





Headshot of Chris HayesChris Hayes – PhD (Schal Lab)

I am a recent Duke Global Health Institute graduate where my research focused on malaria vector identification in Myanmar, and I will now be working on pyrethroid resistance in bed bugs.



NCSU WolfMelissa Pulkoski – MS (Burrack Lab)

I am working with Dr. Hannah Burrack to investigate plant-insect interactions to aid in the development of an IPM for Industrial Hemp.



Headshot of Jessica VignaJessica Vigna – MR (Sorenson Lab)

I am excited to be pursuing my Master’s in Entomology at NCSU, after earning my Bachelor’s in Agronomy 13 years ago!




Plant Pathology Students

Johnny Balidion HeadshotJohnny Balidion – PhD (Cubeta Lab)

I am a Fulbright fellow from the Philippines pursuing a doctoral degree in Plant Pathology with a research interest in latent fungal endophytes of woody plants and their interaction with water stress and host plant development.



Headshot of Amanda MainelloAmanda Mainello – PhD (Ristaino Lab)

I’m excited to switch gears from my Master’s and research how to develop sensors for detecting Phytophthora spp. on nursery crops.



Inga Meadows – PhD (Ristaino Lab)

I help the commercial tomato, other vegetable, and herbaceous ornamental growers in North Carolina manage their plant diseases through outreach and applied research.



NCSU WolfPeter Oppenheimer – PhD (Cowger Lab)

I am a Cornell Graduate and will be researching the spread of Fusarium and emerging mycotoxins.




Headshot of Ashley PhilbrickAshley Philbrick – MS (Louws Lab)

I’m excited to be a part of Dr. Frank Louws’ lab, working with an economically important species of root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne enterolobii.





Headshot of Sydney CrawleySydney Crawley – Assistant Professor

I specialize in manipulation and exploration of insect behavior and biology for improvement of integrated pest management strategies.



Jennie Fagen HeadshotJennie Fagen – Senior Research Scholar