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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 currently serves as coordinator for both the main Crowder lab in Pullman and the broader WSU decision aid system. In this role 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 Assistant Professors

Saumik Basu

Saumik is studying molecular and biochemical aspects of our model pea aphid-virus-legume system

Javier Gutierrez Illan (former postdoc, now RAP)

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

Vera Pfeiffer

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.

Gengping Zhu

Gengping is interested in distributional ecology and is familiar with applications of correlative ecological niche modeling in conservation biogeography. He is using this tool 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 PNW US.

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 in pear psylla as a pest management strategy.

Jillian Foutz
MS Candidate in Entomology

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

Mario Luppino
PhD Candidate in Entomology

Mario is interested in interspecies interactions between pollinators, with canola production as a model system. A recent WSU graduate, Mario’s background is in Earth and Environmental Sciences, with a minor in Sustainable Development. He enjoys gardening, hiking, and outreach education.

Megan Blance
MS Candidate in Entomology

Megan is interested in insect pest populations and the factors affecting outbreaks on crops. She is studying the plant-insect interactions of cereal aphids on weedy non-crop hosts to better inform management decisions.

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 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 effect behavior of crop hosts and vector insects through looking at 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 with 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.


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.

Matt Brousil
Decision Aid System Lead Data Scientist

Matt is the lead data scientist for the WSU Decision Aid System and all around data wizard. In this role he oversees all of our collaborative work, manages datasets from collaborators, and ensures the platform is efficient and organized. Matt also aids everyone in the lab with statistical analysis and data infrastructure. He received his MS from Cal Poly.

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.


Undergraduate Students


Chase Baerlocher
Pursuing BS in Agricultural Biotechnology

Chase joined the lab in 2020 and is assisting with research on pea aphid interactions as vectors for legume diseases.

Anna Rodgers
Pursuing BS in Neuropsychology

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

Joseph Heitman
Pursuing BS in Mechanical Engineering

Joseph joined the lab in 2021 and is assisting with research in vibrational communication and sexual selection among pear psylla.

Mikayla Cotton
Pursuing BS in Ecology and Conservation Biology

Mikayla joined the lab in 2021 and is assisting with research in pollinator communities

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

Lab Alumni (Graduate Students and Postdocs)

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. Rob 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 Lichtenberg

Dr. 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