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Crowder Laboratory WSU Department of Entomology

People

Mother of Dragons and Head of Finance

Dr. David CrowderDave Crowder
Professor of Entomology
Director of the WSU Decision Aid Systems
Affiliate Faculty – Graduate Program in Molecular Plant Sciences

(decisionaid.systems; potatoes.decisionaid.systems)

I use theory, experiments, and observational studies to better understand the ecology of insects in agricultural systems. As the head of the WSU DAS our group also works to deliver real-time pest information to farmers across the PNW. more

Lab and Decision Aid System 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 (former postdoc, now Research Assistant Professor)

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 Assistant 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 (former postdoc, now Research Assistant Professor)

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. https://savannahlynnbartel.com/

Dr. Diego Rincon

Diego is evaluating the population dynamics and dispersal ecology of aphids in legume crop systems using a combination of field studies and modeling. He received his BS in Biology from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (in Columbia) and his PhD from Ohio State University. He is interested in riding his bike around the Palouse hills.

Dr. Owusu Aidoo

Owusu’s research focuses on understanding the biology and ecology of invasive species. At WSU, he seeks to predict the potential distribution of bees and their predators using ecological niche modeling. He holds MS in Entomology from University of Ghana (Ghana) and PhD from University of Bonn (Germany).

Graduate Students

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)

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.

Taydin Macon
PhD Candidate in Entomology

Taydin received his BS in Physics and BA in Philosophy from Loyola Marymount and joined the lab in 2023. Their work will focus on honey bee health, pest management, and ecology.

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.

Jesse Trammel
Decision Aid System Developer

Jesse is a developer for the WSU Decision Aid System. In this role he works with Stefano to develop our tree fruit and potato platforms and improve the overall system over time. He is currently based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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.

Anna Rodgers
Biological Science Technician

Anna joined the lab in summer 2020 and continued as a technician after graduating in 2023. She helps manage the molecular lab and assists with all of our molecular projects

 

 

Undergraduate Students

Izzy McDonald
Pursuing BS in Data Analytics

Izzy joined the lab in 2023 to assist with research on codling moth population dynamics modeling

Ian Ellard
Pursuing BS in Wildlife Conservation and Ecology

Ian joined the lab summer of 2023 and is assisting with field collection of pea aphids and an experiment studying development rates within different generations of pea aphids

Ari Espinosa
Pursuing BS in Biology with an Entomology minor

Ari joined the lab summer of 2022 and is assisting with various molecular ecology projects

Kate Prophet
Pursuing BS in Data Analytics

Kate joined the lab in 2023 and is working on modeling population dynamics of potato pests

Lab Alumni (Graduate Students and Postdocs)

Olivia Shaffer
MS in Entomology (2023)

Olivia worked on the behavioral ecology of bees and how the stability of plant-pollinator networks is affected by landscapes surrounding cropping systems. She is currently an aspiring data scientist living in Spokane, WA.

Dowen Jocson
PhD in Entomology (2023)

Dowen worked on mate disruption using substrate borne vibrations as a pest management strategy for pear psylla. She was the 2023 John Henry Comstock Award Winner during her PhD. She currently works for the WSU Pesticide Education Program.

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. She currently works for the USDA-ARS in Wapato, WA.

Megan Blance
MS in Entomology (2022)

Megan worked on understanding factors affecting outbreaks of insect pest populations in cereal crops. Specifically, she studied interactions between cereal aphids on weedy non-crop hosts to better inform management decisions. She is currently a data scientist in Seattle, WA.

Dr. Vera Pfeiffer
Postdoc (2019-2022)

Vera used 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. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the USDA-ARS in Pullman, WA

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 Calgary

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 currently an Agroecologist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Pooja Malhotra
MS in Entomology (2021)

Pooja conducted research on the influence of rhizobial bacteria on interactions between aphids, pea plants, and aphid-borne viruses. She currently works as a technician in the WSU bee program.

Dr. Robert Clark
Postdoc (2016-2020, Research Assistant Professor 2020-2023)

Rob studied how host plant variation and predator effects impact aphid-virus vector biology in legumes. He currently lives in Connecticut where he runs his own data science consulting company (https://www.ecodata.tech/)

Liesl Oeller

Liesl Oeller
MS in Entomology (May 2020)

Liesl’s MS thesis focused on understanding and managing Lygus pest communities in quinoa crops. After a stint in Michigan they looped back to Pullman to become the lab manager.

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 currently 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 Cornell

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 is an Assistant Professor at WSU 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 for the Citrus Commission in California.

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 Cornell 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