Researchers

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Jim Cronin

Jim is an evolutionary ecologist who works on the interactions between plants, herbivores, and their natural enemies. He also studies the ecology of invasive plants like Phragmites and maintains a common garden of Phragmites varieties from across the US.

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Rodrigo Diaz

Rodrigo studies the biological control of exotic pests and invasive species ecology. He is responsible for coordinating statewide surveys Roseau cane, documenting changes in plant communities in the lower Mississippi River, and recording the population dynamics of the exotic scale.

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Scott Schneider

Scott studies scale insect and whitefly systematics at USDA ARS Systematic Entomology Laboratory, and curates the Smithsonian's Coccomorpha and Aleyrodomorpha collections. He is responsible for identification and molecular characterization of Roseau cane scale populations.

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Andy Nyman

Andy is a wetland wildlife ecologist who works on the management and restoration of coastal marshes and bottomland hardwood forests in the southeastern US. His research deals with coastal issues such as the response of coastal marshes to sea-level rise and petroleum pollution, and marsh restoration techniques.

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Rodrigo Valverde

Rodrigo is a plant pathologist. He specializes in plant diseases caused by viruses and diseases of unknown etiology. His current research focuses on interactions between viruses, the host, plant pathogens, and herbivores.

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Laura Meyerson

Dr. Meyerson is a professor at the University of Rhode Island and the Associate Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal, Biological Invasions. She studies invasive alien species at the regional and global scales with a focus Phragmites australis as a model species, and uses genetic tools to distinguish among P. australis populations.

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Xuelian (Shelley) Meng

Shelley is a geographer who utilizes various remote sensors such as aerial/satellite sensors, LiDAR, and drone cameras to extract targeted features and investigate morphological changes, plant dynamics, disturbances from disease or natural disaster, wetland biomass, inundation and 3D reconstruction. She is responsible for multiscale mapping and monitoring of Roseau cane distribution and disease infection assessment through various remote sensing platforms.

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Vinson Doyle

Vinson is a systematic mycologist. He studies the evolution and population biology of plant- and animal-associated fungi. He is investigating the potential role of soil, root, and rhizome microbial communities in Roseau Cane survival and fitness to determine opportunities for restoration efforts.

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Tracy Quirk

Tracy is a wetland ecologist who’s research is focused on plant and soil interactions including nutrient and carbon cycling. She is interested in how environmental conditions influence these processes in both natural wetlands and restoration sites.

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Hannah Broadley

Hannah is a biological scientist and entomologist with USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine. Her research focuses on the development and implementation of biological control of invasive insects. She coordinates the foreign exploration on roseau cane scale across Asia and is studying candidate biological control agents to aid in the management of roseau cane scale populations.

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Ana Salgado-Maldonado

Dr. Ana Salgado-Maldonado joined the team in November, 2020 as a postdoctoral associate. She earned her PhD earlier in the year from the University of Helsinki (Finland) with a specialty in plant-herbivore interactions. Ana’s research will focus on the chemical underpinnings of roseau cane resistance to the roseau cane scale and other herbivores that are likely playing an important role in the observed dieback in the Mississippi River Delta.

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Austin Lynn

Austin is a plant ecologist who focuses on biological invasions and species interactions. He is working with Dr. Tracy Quirk to explore environmental stressors contributing to die-off and scale insect susceptibility in Phragmites australis.

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Andrea Glassmire

Andrea is a postdoctoral associate in the Cronin lab. She is a plant ecologist whose research focuses on linking biochemical mechanisms to the community ecology and management of insect herbivores and natural enemies

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Aaron DeVries

Aaron has wide-ranging interests in plant biology, including their molecular development, pathology, evolution, and taxonomy, all of which have roots in his early experiences with the Boy Scouts. After graduating with a B.S. in Botany from Iowa State University in 1999, he worked various research assistant positions for several years with a prominent seed company before picking up an interest in genetics, which eventually led to a Ph.D. in Plant Biology at the University of California, Riverside, in 2015. Since then his post-doctoral research has focused on the microbiome of the common reed (Phragmites australis), beginning with the US Geological Survey in Michigan and then continuing at Louisiana State University.

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Jonathan Richards

Jon studies molecular host-pathogen interactions, population genomics, and genome evolution of fungal plant pathogens and their respective hosts. He is investigating the population genetics of Phragmites in the Mississippi River Delta and the transcriptional response of Phragmites to various biotic and environmental stresses.

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Mike Stout

Mike studies insect-plant interactions in crop agroecosystems. His research focuses on understanding the role of roseau cane volatiles and defensive chemistry on the resistance to the scale insect.

Research Associates and Graduate Students

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Hamilton Crockett

Hamilton is a current M.S. graduate student working under Dr. Vinson Doyle. She completed her B.S. at Virginia Tech in Crop and Soil Science--with the Agronomy option. At LSU, she will study how the soil microbiome affects the current Phragmites die-back in the MRD by comparing soil microbes in healthy vs die-back sites.

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Herie Lee

Herie received her Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences from LSU in December 2017, and is currently a masters student working with Dr. Jim Cronin on a project monitoring CPRA restoration sites in the Pass-a-Loutre WMA. Specifically, she is investigating the multi-factorial causes of the Phragmites die-off in the Mississippi River Delta in order to establish restoration protocols for the Phragmites variety. In doing so, she hopes to uncover how different abiotic and biotic conditions may be important in determining the revegetation success in the Delta.

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Madeline Gill

Madeline is in her second year as a research associate with the LSU Department of Entomology and her second semester as a graduate student with the LSU Department of Renewable Natural Resources. She received her Bachelor’s degree (Spanish & Latin American Studies) from Western Washington University in 2016.

Madeline is a member of the roseau cane team working on understanding what will happen to the wetland vegetation if roseau cane is lost. Her project consists of three research sites located in the Mississippi River Delta, the Atchafalaya Basin, and Rockefeller Wildlife Management Area where she will be removing vegetation and monitoring areas in which the cane is able to recover and where loss of cane results in conversion to open water. The implications of this work will be to better understand the severity of roseau cane die-off and the predictability of wetland plant succession.

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Keyla Pruett

Keyla is an undergraduate student worker. She will graduate in May of 2021 with a major in Wildlife Ecology and a minor in Entomology. Her research focuses on the parasitoids of the roseau cane scale.

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Derek Jacobs

Derek is a graduate student in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science working under Dr. Tracy Quirk. He is interested in better understanding the Roseau cane die-back, and the implications for vegetation restoration, through field work and a corresponding greenhouse study.

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Matthew Berry

Matthew is a Research Associate with the LSU Department of Entomology in Dr. Diaz’s Lab. He received his Bachelor of Science from LSU in Biological Sciences with a marine science concentration. He oversees the organization and completion of surveys and collections of Phragmites in the Mississippi River Delta and in the surrounding areas of southeast Louisiana. This is accomplished in order to better determine the health of the Phragmites as well as the abundance of roseau cane scale insects.

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Nan Shang

Nan Shang is a PhD student working with Dr. Xuelian Meng. He received a MS degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research will focus on a multiscale study of the roseau cane die-off through combination of UAV, moderate/high resolution satellite imagery, and field surveys at the Mississippi River Delta.

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Josh Snook

Joshua received his Bachelors of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Science from Paul Smiths College in 2009 where he documented the effects of coniferous canopy cover on abiotic variables such as temperature, wind-speed, snow depth, and sunlight in relation to wintering white-tailed deer in the Adirondacks of New York state. He has since worked on projects involving forest management, urban tree management, endangered salmonids, tropical plant-insect interactions, harlequin duck breeding surveys, urban red-tailed hawks, golden eagle banding, and sage grouse habitat restoration. He completed his Master’s of Science degree in Entomology at Michigan State University in 2020 where he identified the effects of heat waves on the interaction and development of potato plants, early blight, and the Colorado potato beetle. He is currently a Research Associate at Louisiana State University studying the invasive Roseau cane scale and its role in the Phragmites “Roseau cane” die-off in the Mississippi River Delta.

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Tanner Sparks

Tanner studies the ecology of parasitoid wasps associated with Roseau Cane Scale. These wasps are specialist biocontrol agents for the invasive scale- potentially limiting the pest population and damage to Phragmites stands in southern Louisiana.

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Emilie Ann Eastman

Emilie Ann assists with Phragmites research, including field surveys in the Mississippi River Delta, colony maintenance, and lab processing of samples.In addition, she aids in research about the biological control of giant salvinia.

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Mike Martinson

Mike received two Bachelors of Science degrees from Michigan State University: one in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and another in Forestry. There he studied the biological control of Emerald Ash Borer. After graduating in 2020, he worked in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service on the biological control of Elongate Hemlock Scale.Mike is currently a member of the biological control team at the USDA APHIS PPQ Forest Pest Methods Lab where he assists in research into the biological control of Roseau Cane Scale and maintains Phragmites and scale colonies to conduct this work.

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Basant Awasthi

Basant is a current M.S. graduate student working under Dr. Xuelian Meng. He received his Bachelor of Engineering in Geomatics Engineering from Kathmandu University, Nepal. His research will focus on multiscale study of the Roseau cane die-off through combination of UAV, satellite imagery, and field surveys at the Mississippi River Delta.

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