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Crowder Laboratory WSU Department of Entomology


Mother of Dragons and Head of Finance

Dr. David Crowder

Dave Crowder
Associate Professor of Entomology
Director, WSU Decision Aid Systems


I use theory, experiments, and observational studies to understand the impacts of land-use and environmental variability on the structure and function of insect and plant communities. more

Lab Coordinator

Liesl Oeller

Liesl received their MS in Entomology from the lab in 2019 and is the coordinator for the lab in Pullman and the WSU Decision Aid System. They do their best to keep Dave organized and on task so that the lab runs smoothly; Liesl clearly has the hardest job in the lab.

Postdoctoral Scientists and Research Professors

Dr. Saumik Basu

Saumik is studying molecular and biochemical aspects of virus transmission by pea aphids and other vectors. He also leads the WSU Entomology shared molecular lab.

Dr. Javier Gutierrez Illan (former postdoc, now Research Professor)

Javier is interested in the effects of environmental changes on biodiversity. His research deals with ecological modelling of invasive species and biodiversity from a landscape perspective. At the moment, his research tries to address the question of how certain insect pest are evolving in the US Pacific Northwest and the potential to predict their future distributions.

Dr. Gengping Zhu

Gengping is interested in distributional ecology and is familiar with applications of correlative ecological niche modeling in biogeography. He is using these tools to resolve problems in invasion and conservation biology. At WSU, he seeks to predict the potential distributions of blueberry maggot, spotted wing drosophila, and brown marmorated stink bug in the PNW US.

Dr. Savannah Bartel

Savannah is evaluating the cascading effects of Tasmanian devil declines on scavenging food webs and carrion decomposition. She received her BS and PhD from the Univ of Wisconsin, where she assessed how human disturbances generate spatial variation in plant-animal and predator-prey interactions. She can be often be found walking/hiking with her dog, riding her bike, camping, or enjoying live music.

Graduate Students

Dowen Jocson
PhD Candidate in Entomology

Dowen graduated from Saint Louis University with a B.S. and M.S. in Biology. She is interested in vibrational communication and sexual selection. Her project involves working on mate disruption using substrate borne vibrations as a pest management strategy for pear psylla.

Emily Rampone
PhD Candidate in Entomology

Emily is interested in opportunities to help farmers make informed decisions about pest management. She received her B.A. from the University of Vermont and comes to the lab with nearly a decade of experience working in the U.S. Senate

Camille Wagstaff
PhD Candidate in Molecular Plant Sciences

Camille is interested in improving sustainability of agriculture through understanding how pathogen infections affect behavior of crop hosts and vector insects through looking at the  potato purple top disease vector Circulifer tenellus (Baker)

Olivia Shaffer
MS Candidate in Entomology

Olivia graduated from Frostburg State University with a BS in Interpretive Biology & Natural History and a minor in Animal Behavior. She is interested in the behavioral ecology of bees and how this can be used to conserve native pollinator populations.

Salena Helmreich
PhD Candidate in Entomology

Salena is interested in understanding how the health of wild and managed bees are affected by pulses of canola crop fields across variable landscape contexts.

Chase Baerlocher
PhD Candidate in Molecular Plant Sciences

Chase joined the lab in 2020 as an undergraduate and continued on as a PhD student in 2022 to study molecular factors affecting the ability of pea aphids to transmit legume crop pathogens.


Technical Staff


Stefano Borghi
Decision Aid System Lead Developer

Stefano is the lead developer of the WSU Decision Aid System and all around computing wizard. In this role he oversees all aspects of our tree fruit and potato platforms, develops new features for displaying models and insect sampling data, organizes the DAS team, and tries to keep Dave on task. He is originally from Bologna, Italy, and went to school at the University of Bologna.

Christopher Gorman
Biological Science Technician

Chris is conducting molecular diagnostics of plant pathogens in potato pests of the Columbia Basin area, which includes BLTVA in beet leafhopper and Lso in potato psyllid. He received his MS in Plant Pathology from Auburn University and works in collaboration with our colleagues at the USDA lab in Wapato, WA.


Claire Winslow
Biological Science Technician

Claire graduated in the Fall of 2022 with a degree in Basic Medical Sciences/Pre-Physician Assistant and plans on working within the realm of biological research. Claire enjoys being with her friends and family, cooking, creating art, playing with her cats, climbing, and skateboarding.

Undergraduate Students


Anna Rodgers
Pursuing BS in Neuropsychology

Anna joined the lab in summer 2020 and is assisting with research on pea aphid interactions

Jillian Wroughton
Pursuing BS in Ecology and Conservation Biology

Jillian joined the lab in 2021 and is assisting with research on all the lab projects

Ari Espinosa
Pursuing BS in Biology and Entomology

Ari joined the lab in fall 2022 to assist with research on pear psyllid management. They plan to continue a career with insects after graduation.

Joseph Heitman
Pursuing BS in Mechanical Engineering

Joseph joined the lab in spring 2023 to assist with research on pear psyllid management. While studying Engineering he has been a member of the WSU track team for the past 4 years.

Sydney Ueda
Pursuing BS in Biology

Sydney is pursing a degree in Biology with an emphasis in ecology and evolution. She joined the lab in 2022 and is excited to gain hands on experience with lab and research work as an undergraduate.

Lab Alumni (Graduate Students and Postdocs)

Jillian Foutz
MS in Entomology (2023)

Jillian worked with beet leafhopper in an effort to understand how the insects move from weedy non-crop hosts into potatoes, vectoring the phytoplasm BLTVA. She also used molecular techniques to determine the landscape-level movements of these insects.

Megan Blance
MS in Entomology (2022)

Megan worked on understanding factors affecting outbreaks of insect pest populations in cereal crops. Specifically, she studied the interactions between cereal aphids on weedy non-crop hosts to better inform management decisions.

Dr. Vera Pfeiffer
Postdoc (2018-2021)

Vera is interested in spatial and temporal processes in ecology. She is currently using landscape genetics to study how mass blooming canola influences bumble bee populations in Eastern Washington and Western Idaho. She enjoys learning how landscape management and heterogeneity influence ecological communities.

Dr. Abigail Cohen
PhD in Entomology (2021)

Abigail worked on the ecology of potato psyllids in the Pacific Northwest to understand the environmental and landscape-level factors affecting psyllid populations and Liberibacter pathogens. Abigail also conducting experiments studying the ecology of psyllid-Liberibacter-potato interactions. She is currently a postdoc at the University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Ben Lee
PhD in Entomology (2021)

Ben conducted research on the influence of predatory insects on herbivores and the spread of plant viruses using peas as a model system. He is an amateur chef and a strong proponent of supporting local foods and farmers, and is excited to help benefit agricultural systems through research. He is currently a postdoc at the University of California, Davis.

Dr. Robert Clark
Postdoc (2016-2020)

Rob studied how host plant variation and predator effects impact aphid-virus vector biology in legumes. He is currently a senior research scientist at Great Hollow Nature Preserve and Ecological Research Center

Liesl Oeller

Liesl Oeller
MS in Entomology (May 2020)

Liesl’s MS thesis focused on understanding and managing Lygus pest communities in quinoa crops. They are currently a PhD student at the University of Idaho

Dr. Rae Olsson
PhD in Entomology (May 2020)

Rae’s PhD dissertation focused on pollinator health in canola crops, and effects of agronomic practices on canola traits that are important for pollinators. They are currently a postdoc at Washington State University.

Maggie Freeman
MS in Entomology (December 2019)

Maggie conducted research on the effectiveness of parasitoids for providing biological control of lily leaf beetle. She is current a lab manager at Oregon State University.

Dr. Eli Bloom
PhD in Entomology (May 2019)

Eli studied the stability and diversity of native pollinator communities in urban and organic farming systems. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University

Dr. Robert Schaeffer
Postdoc (2016-2018)

Robert studied cross-kingdom interactions involving plants, pollinators, and microbes in natural and agricultural systems. He is an Assistant Professor at Utah State University

Dr. Robert Orpet
PhD in Entomology (co-supervised by Vince Jones) (December 2018)

Robert determined if woolly apple aphid densities in organic and conventional orchards can be explained by factors such as soil quality, nutritional status of apple trees, and the presence of aphid predators and parasitoids. He currently works as a postdoc in Wenatchee, WA.

Dr. Paul Chisholm
PhD in Entomology (May 2017)

Paul studied plant-insect-virus interactions, using the pea aphid and legumes as a model system. He currently works for the US Forest Service

Dr. Ivan Milosavljevic
PhD in Entomology (August 2015)
Postdoc (2015-2016)

Ivan studied the biology, ecology, and management of wireworms, a devastating pest of wheat throughout the Pacific Northwestern United States. He did his PhD and a brief postdoc in the lab. He currently works as an assistant research professor at UC Riverside

Dr. Eric Moise
Postdoc (2016)

Eric studied community and disease ecology, using the potato psyllid and Solanaceous plants as his model system. He is currently a research leader at the Canadian Forest Service

Dr. Elinor LichtenbergDr. Elinor Lichtenberg
Postdoc (2013-2015)

Elinor’s research focused on the effects of farming landscapes on pollinator behavior and interactions between pollinator species. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of North Texas

Elizabeth D’Auria
MS in Entomology (August 2015)

Lizz developed decision-support tools in Geographical Information systems to improve pest management for potato cropping systems. She is currently a lab manager at Michigan State University

Elliott Moon
MS in Statistics (co-supervised with Bill Snyder) (May 2013)
Elliott studied landscape ecology of herbivorous and predacious insect communities. He works as a GIS technician in Seattle