Team Members

My laboratory research teams include a number of talented individuals serving as graduate assistants, research associates and post-docs, and research assistants.

Team Photos



  • Olufemi Ajayi, Ph.D. Student (Graduate Research Assistant, Started Fall 2015). Tentative Dissertation Title: Mechanisms of ant-parasitoid interactions.
  • Basu Kafle, Ph.D. Student (Graduate Research Assistant, Started Fall 2017). Tentative Dissertation Title: Mechanisms of plant-insect interactions.
  • Gamze Mertoglu, M.S. Student (Started Spring 2018). Tentative Thesis Title: Management tactics against spider mites in tomato.
  • Chelsea Smith, Ph.D. Student (Graduate Research Assistant, Started Fall 2019). Tentative Dissertation Title: Parasitoid-cockroach interactions.
  • Sanower Warsi, Ph.D. Student (Graduate Research Assistant, Started Fall 2019). Tentative Dissertation Title: Biological control of Kudzu bug.


  • Elly Maxwell, M.S. (Completed Fall 2005). Current position: Entomologist, Dow Gardens, Midland, Michigan.
  • Ebenezer Onagbola , Ph.D. (Completed Fall 2007). Current position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Florida, Citrus Research & Education Center, Lake Alfred, Florida.
  • Yingfang Xiao, Ph.D. (Completed Fall 2009). Current position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Florida, Mid-Florida REC, Apopka, Florida.
  • Timothy Nafziger, M.S. (Completed Spring 2010). Current position: Education & Outreach, South Carolina.
  • Clement Akotsen-Mensah, Ph.D. (Completed Summer 2010);Current Position: Research Scientist. University of Ghana, Acrra.
  • Rammohan (Rao) Balusu, Ph.D. (Completed Summer 2011);Current Position: Research Fellow, Auburn University, Alabama.
  • Esther Ngumbi, Ph.D. (Completed Summer 2011); Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Georgia Tech., Atlanta
  • Kate Nangle, M.S. (Completed Spring 2012). Current Position: Entomologist. Bayer, Raleigh, NC.
  • Prithwiraj Das, Ph.D. (Completed Fall 2012). Current Position: Postdoctoral Researcher, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO.
  • Jill Piorkowski, M.S. (Completed Spring 2014). Thesis Title: Morphological mechanism of rhizobacteria induced cotton-insect interactions.
  • Tolulope Morawo, M.S. (Completed Fall 2013). Thesis Title: Behavioral response of parasitic waps to host-related odor. Current Position: Ph.D. student, Auburn University.
  • Olufemi Ajayi, M.S. (Completed Summer 2015). Thesis Title: Sugar feeding effects on longevity, fecundity and ovigeny index ofPseudacteon phorid flies. Current Position: Ph.D. student, Auburn University.
  • Matt Burrows, M.S (Completed Spring 2016). Thesis Title: Plasticity of olfactory response to host-related plant volatiles in the parasitoid Microplitis croceipesCurrent Position: Entomologist, Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA.
  • Blessing Ademokoya, M.S. (Completed Fall 2016). Thesis Title: Alternative strategies for managing Megacopta cribraria (Fabricius) (Hemiptera: Plataspidae) in soybean. Current Position: Ph.D. student, University of Nebraska Lincoln.
  • Joseph Disi, Ph.D. (Completed Fall 2017). Dissertation Title: Effects of plant growth rhizobacteria on induction of maize volatiles and consequences for maize herbivores and their natural enemies. Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Georgia.
  • Tolulope Morawo, Ph.D. (Completed Fall 2017). Dissertation Title: Chemical ecology of some underexplored aspects of plant-herbivore-parasitoid tritrophic interactions. Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Auburn University.




  • Vincent Umeh, Ph.D. Visiting Scholar. (March 2005-November 2005); Current position: Chief Research Entomologist, National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan, Nigeria.
  • Hongyi Wei, Ph.D. Visiting Scholar. (September 2006-September 2007); Current position: Professor, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang, China.
  • Li Chen, Ph.D. Research Fellow. (March 2004-December 2008);Current position: Associate Professor, Beijing Forestry University, China.
  • Xiaofang He, Ph.D. Visiting Scholar. (February 2008-February 2009); Current position: Associate Professor, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China.
  • Kavita Sharma, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (December 2008-April 2011) Current position: Research Associate, University of California, Riverside, CA.
  • Joseph Anikwe, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar. (February 2011-August 2011). Current position: Principal Research Entomologist, Cocoa Research Institute, Ibadan, Nigeria.
  • Clement Akotsen-Mensah, Ph.D., Research Fellow (August 2010-July 2012). Current position: Lecturer, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana.
  • Yuan Yuan Song, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar (2012-2013). Current position: Associate Professor, South China Agricultural University.
  • Esther Ngumbi, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2014). Current position: Research Fellow, Auburn University.
  • Eunice Ajayi, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar (2012-2014). Current position: Senior Lecturer, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigera
  • Martin Mbai, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar (2013)
  • Simon Zebelo, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-2015). Current position: Assistant Professor, University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
  • Olalekan Soyelu, Ph.D., Visiting Research Scholar (2016-2017). Current position: Senior Lecturer, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigera.



  • Bryce Abbot, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2019-Present


  • Stinson Ellis, Field Research Assistant, 2003-2004.
  • Akin Morakinyo, Field Research Assistant, 2004.
  • Stephen Troth, Field Assistant, 2006.
  • Blane Stokley, Directed Undergraduate Research Student, 2006.
  • Brandon Wall, Directed Undergraduate Research Student, 2007.
  • Shelia Boyt, Research Assistant, 2003-2007.
  • Maggie Jordan, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2007-2009.
  • Nicole Meyer , Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2007-2008.
  • Jennea Ollie, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2008-2009.
  • David Appel, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2009-2010.
  • Wykita Johnson, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2009-2010.
  • Zachary Jones, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2010.
  • Allison Tyler, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2010-2011.
  • Gregory Bryant, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2011.
  • Erica Williams, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2010-2012.
  • Gregory Bell, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2011.
  • Alfa Shuaibu, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2012.
  • Omotola Ajayi, Research Assistant, 2012-2013
  • Mathew McTernan, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2012
  • Angela Dobson, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2011-2013
  • Golpar Garmestani, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2013
  • Chelsea Graff, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2013-2014
  • Thelma Quansa, Research Assistant, 2013-2014
  • Tunde Awolumate, Field Assistant, 2013-2014
  • Heather Leyva, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2013-2014
  • Savannah Duke, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2013-2014; Current position: Entomologist, Alabama Department of Health.
  • Katherine Blastos, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2014.
  • Benjamin Reeves, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2014-2015; Current position: Graduate Student, University of Georgia.
  • Lindsay McMillan, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2015-2016; Current position: Graduate Student, University of Alabama Birmingham.
  • Brandice Kopishke, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2016-2018.
  • Jean Linn, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2018
  • Alex Moore, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2018
  • Bryant Byrd, Undergraduate Research Student, 2019; Current position: Graduate Student, Auburn University.
  • Olivia Duke, Undergraduate Student Intern, 2019
Tolulope Morawo
PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow (started January, 2018) My research is focused on the chemical ecology of plant-herbivore-parasitoid interactions, including biotic and abiotic factors affecting the fidelity of plant-insect communication systems. I am also interested in insect neurobiology and cognitive studies, which serve as a model for understanding more complex neural mechanisms in higher animals. Applied aspects of my research involve Integrated Pest Management for emerging pests of field crops in southern US, including cotton, soybean and corn. I graduated with a B.S. in Biology from FUTA, Nigeria in 2009, obtained a Master’s degree (2013) and a Ph.D. in Entomology at Auburn University in 2017. I like going to new places and making connections. My favorite sports are soccer, tennis and ping pong. Weblinks: Google Scholar, Researchgate

Olufemi Ajayi
PhD. Student (started Fall, 2015) I am currently studying the chemical ecology of parasitoid-host interactions, using Pseudacteon phorid flies and Solenopsis fire ants as model system. I received my Master’s degree in Entomology at Auburn University in 2015. In addition to my dissertation research, I have spent the past few years conducting research on a number of invasive pests such as crazy ants, kudzu bugs and Mexican bean beetles. More specifically, I am interested in the biological control of insect pests, especially those of considerable medical importance. I am an amateur soccer player and l like outdoor activities.

Basu Kafle
PhD. Student (Started Fall, 2017) My research will focus on the chemical ecology of tritrophic interaction using Heliothis virescensMicroplitis croceipesCotesia marginiventris and cotton plant as the model system. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Institute of Agriculture and Animal Sciences, Tribhuvan University, Nepal and Master’s degree in Entomology from the University of Idaho. I like to explore new places.

Gamze Mertoglu
MS. Student (started, spring 2018). My research is focused on the evaluation of biorational acaricides such as microbials, botanicals, essential oils and horticultural oils against two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) in tomato. These biorationals can be applied as stand-alone treatments and in combination with predatory mites for effective management of pest mites in high tunnel production. I received my bachelor’s degree (2012) and master’s degree (2014) in the Entomology Department, Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey. I obtained a scholarship from the Turkish Government to pursue my master’s degree in the USA on Acarology (2015). I like to travel and explore new places. My favorite sports are volleyball and swimming.

Chelsea Smith
Ph.D. Student (started, fall 2019). My research will mainly focus on the mechanisms parasitoid wasps use to locate their cockroach hosts. My other research interests include insect behavior, IPM, and spiders. I earned my master’s degree in Biological and Environmental Science from Troy University in 2017. I really enjoy photography, games, and drawing.

Sanower Warsi
Ph.D. Student (started, fall 2019). My research is focused on the behavioral and chemical ecology of host-parasitoid interactions using the Kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) and its egg parasitoid (Ooencyrtus nezarae) as system system. I received my BS degree from Uttar Pradesh Technical University, India and MS degree in Biotechnology (2017) from Fort Valley State University, USA. My aim is to reveal how parasitoids deal with the enormous variation in host-related cues to find its host in complex environments. I like watching sci-fi movies, listening to songs, and hiking with friends. Besides, I enjoy being out in nature.