Graduate Students

William Groover, Ph.D. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Dissertation Title: Evaluation of UAS equipped with multispectral cameras as a diagnostic tool for soil-borne diseases in warm-season grasses.

Key accomplishments: Has presented 7 conference oral presentations or posters and 2 extension presentations; Published 12 peer-reviewed papers; Published 13 extension publications; Published 3 conference papers and 2 conference abstracts.  Won 1stplace for the “Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation” at the Caribbean Division American Phytopathological Annual meeting in Cuba, May 2019.

Started: Fall, 2017; Projected to graduate: Spring, 2020.


David Dyer, Ph.D. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Dissertation Title: Evaluating the presence of Fusarium oxysporumf. sp. vasinfectumraces throughout a cotton growing season.

Key accomplishments: Has presented 5 conference oral presentations or posters; Published 1 refereed papers and 6 peer-reviewed paper.Won 2ndplace for the “Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation” at the Society of Nematology Annual meeting in Raleigh, NC, July 2019.

Started: Spring, 2018; Projected to graduate: Fall, 2020.


Marina Nunes Rondon, Ph.D. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Dissertation Title: Investigation of the Corynespora cassiicola pathogen and its interaction with soybean.

Key accomplishments: Has presented 1 conference oral presentations; Published 1 peer-reviewed paper; 1 conference paper; and won second place as “Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation” at the Beltwide Cotton Conference, San Antonio, Texas, 2018.

Started: Fall, 2017; Projected to graduate: Fall, 2020.


WinDi Sanchez, M. S. Plant Pathology /Entomology Co -Major Professor with Dr. Geoff Williams

Thesis Title: Entomopathogenic nematodes as part of an integrated pest management program for control of small hive beetles (Aethina tumida)

Key accomplishments: Has presented 1 conference oral presentations; Published 1 peer-reviewed paper;

Started: Fall, 2018; Projected to graduate: Spring, 2020.


Kara Gordon, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title:

Started Summer 2019; Projected to graduate Summer 2021.

Kaitlin Gattoni, M.S., Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Systemic induced resistance to M. incognita by Bacillus spp.

Key accomplishments: Has presented 3 conference oral presentations; Published 2 conference papers; and won first place as “Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation” at the Beltwide Cotton Conference, San Antonio, Texas, 2018 and first place as “Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation” at the Southern Soybean Disease Workers Conference, Panama City, Florida, 2019.

Current position: Ph.D. candidate Department of Plant Pathology. University of Florida


Ni Xiang, Ph.D. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Dissertation Title: Biological control of Bacillus spp. on Root-knot and Soybean Cyst nematode

Started Fall 2012; Graduate by Fall 2016.

Key accomplishments: Has presented 4 conference oral presentations or posters; Published 1 refereed journal article; 6 peer-reviewed papers; and 3 conference papers.       2016 International Student award, Auburn University;       2016 Graduate Travel Fellowship, Auburn University; 2015 Graduate Travel Fellowship, Auburn University; and            2013-2014 Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award, Entomology & Plant Pathology, Auburn University.

Current position: Nematologist, Indigo, Raleigh, NC


Daniel Dodge, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Development of an integrated pest management program for Root knot nematode management is soybeans in Alabama utilizing plant hormones, starter fertilizers, and nematicides.

Key accomplishments: Has presented 2 conference oral presentations or posters; Published 1 Peer-reviewed papers and 1 conference paper.

Started Summer 2015; Graduate by Spring 2017.

Current position: Nematologist Valent BioSciences, Libertyville, IL


Stephen Till, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: An integrated approach to improving corn plant health in Meloidogyne incognita  infested fields with nematicides, plant growth regulators, and starter fertilizers.

Key accomplishments: Has presented 2 conference oral presentations or posters; Published 1 Peer-reviewed papers and 1 conference paper.

Started Fall 2015; Graduate by Fall 2017.

Current position: AGRI-AFC Agronomist &Technology Manager for South Alabama, Florida and South Mississippi located in Headland, Alabama.


Meredith Hall, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) and fungal susceptibility of turmeric (Curcuma spp.) selections.

Key accomplishments: Has presented 2 conference oral presentations or posters;.  Won “Outstand Graduate Student Poster Presentation”  in the graduate student presentation contest at the Society of Nematology Meeting of the Americas in Montreal, Canada in July 2016.

Started Spring 2016; Graduated Summer 2017.


Justin Luangkhot, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Graduated Spring 2016. Thesis Title: Development of an integrated pest management program for plant parasitic nematode control on cotton in Alabama utilizing plant hormones, starter fertilizers, and nematicides.

Key accomplishments: Presented 8 conference oral or poster presentations; Published 4 Peer-reviewed papers  and 2 conference papers. Awarded the Outstanding MS Student in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University 2014-2015.

Current position: Research and Development with Bayer Crop Science located in Kennewick, WA.


Caroline Land, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Graduated Summer 2015. Thesis Title: The study of applied management options to enhance crop protection against Verticillium wilt in Gossypium hirsutum.

Key accomplishments: Presented 4 conference oral presentations or posters; Published 9 Peer-reviewed papers; and 1 conference paper.  Awarded the Outstanding MS Student in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University 2013- 2014. Won “First Place”  and “Second Place” in the graduate student presentation contest at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in 2014 and 2015.

Current position: PhD. Graduate student at GCREC (UF-IFAS) University of Florida.


Amber Smith, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Graduated Spring 2015  Thesis Title: Cotton Cultivar Response to the Fusarium Wilt Root-knot Nematode Disease Complex and the Identification of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum Races in Alabama.

Key accomplishments: Presented 4 conference oral presentations or posters; Published 2 Peer-reviewed papers; and 2 conference paper.  Won “Second Place”and  “First Place”  in the graduate student presentation contest at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in 2014 and 2015.

Current position: Research Scientist – Plant Pathologist and Nematologist with Bayer Crop Science located in Fresno, CA.


David Bailey, M.S. of Ag. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Graduated summer 2014. Key accomplishments: Presented 2 conference papers; Published 10 Peer-reviewed papers. Current position: CPS Agricultural Technology Specialist in North Alabama and Central Tennessee located in Huntsvilles, Alabama.


Drew Schrimsher, M.S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: The Studies of Plant Host Resistance to the Reniform Nematode in Upland Cotton and the Effects of Bacillus firmus GB-126 on Plant-Parasitic Nematodes. Graduated summer 2013.

Key accomplishments: Presented 5 conference papers; Publishing 1 paper from thesis; Published 10 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the Outstanding MS Student in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University 2011- 2012.

Current position: AGRI-AFC Agronomist &Technology Manager for South Alabama, Flordia and South Mississippi located in Slocomb, Alabama.


Scott R. Moore, Ph.D. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Dissertation Title: Evaluation of the Interactions of Soil Edaphic Characteristics and nematicides with Rotylenchulus reniformis and Developing Models for Prescription Management in Cotton. Graduated Summer 2012.

Key accomplishments: Presented 9 conference papers; Publishing 4 papers from dissertation; Published 42 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the 2012 Competitive Monetary Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, Alabama Cotton Commission; Awarded the 2012 Cotton Disease Council Graduate Student Paper Competition, 1st Place; Awarded the 2010 Society of Nematologists Student Paper Competition, 2nd Place; Awarded the Outstanding PhD Student in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University 2010-2011.

Current position: Syngenta Research and Development Scientist II, Biological Assessment- North America Product Evaluation located in Monroe, LA.


Juan David Castillo, Ph.D. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Dissertation Title: Biocontrol of the Reniform nematode (Rotylenchulus reniformis) with the fungi Paecilomyces lilacinus and the bacterium Bacillus firmus, and mix of PGPR strains on Cotton crops in Alabama.

Graduated Fall 2012.

Key accomplishments: Presented 5 conference papers; Published 1 book chapter; Publishing 4 papers from dissertation; Published 6 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the 2012 Nathan A. Cobb Nematology Foundation John M. Webster Outstanding Student Award;

Current position: Biointeractions and Plant Health, Wageninger UR, located in the Netherlands.


Tamara Z. Scott, M.S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Graduated Summer 2012.

Thesis Title: Cultivar Susceptibility to the Fusarium Wilt Complex and Race Characterization of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum.

Key accomplishments: Presented 2 conference papers; Publishing 1 papers from her thesis; Published 6 Peer-reviewed papers;

Current position: MD Anderson Hospital Histology Technician located at Houston TX.


Dustin M. Herring, M.S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Graduated Summer 2011.

M.S. Ag. Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology, Auburn University.

Key accomplishments: Presented 2 conference papers; Published 5 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the 2010 Cotton Disease Council Graduate Student Paper Competition 1st Place; Awarded a 2010 Bayer Crop Science Summer internship; Awarded the Outstanding M. S. Student in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University 2009-2010; Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology Graduate Student Council representative 2009 – 2010.

Current position: Monsanto Farm Research Associate located at the FTS Farm Winterville, MS.


Scott R. Moore, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Dimensional Movement of Rotylenchulus reniformis.

Graduated Fall 2009.

Key accomplishments: Presented 6 conference papers; Published 2 papers from his thesis; Published 37 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the 2009 Dow Agro Sciences Travel Award, Society of Nematologists; Awarded the 2009 Cotton Disease Council Graduate Student Paper Competition Top 3; Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology Graduate Student Council representative 2008 – 2009. Awarded the 2008 – 2009 Outstanding Master’s Student, Auburn University Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology.


Juan David Castillo, M.S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Bio control Studies of Rotylenchulus reniformis in Cotton Crops in Alabama. Graduated Fall 2009.

Key accomplishments: Presented 4 conference papers; Published 2 papers from his thesis;

Awarded the 2007 First Place in Poster Competition in Auburn Graduate School Symposium;

Awarded the 2009 Cotton Disease Council Graduate Student Paper Competition, 2nd Place.


Nicholas Sekora, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Identification of Nematode Species by FAME Analysis.

Graduated Summer 2009.

Key accomplishments: Presented 10 conference papers; Published 2 papers from his thesis; Published 17 Peer-reviewed papers Awarded Second Place in the American Phytopathological Society Southern Division Graduate Student Competition, February 2009; Awarded First Place in the Cotton Disease Council Graduate Student Competition, January, 2009; Awarded the Outstanding Masters Graduate Student in Plant Pathology, May 2008; Awarded First Place in the Auburn University Graduate Student Forum, Science Category, March 2008.

Current position: Syngenta Research and Development Scientist I located in Gainesville, FL.


Taylor B. Hatchet, M. S. 2009. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Survey of the biological activity of 7,10,12-trihydroxy-8-octadecenoic acid (TOD) from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and its potential use to control Magnaporthe grisea and other plant pathogenic fungi.

Graduated Spring 2009.

Key accomplishments: Presented 3 conference papers; Published 4 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the Outstanding Masters Graduate Student in Plant Pathology, May 2007.

Current position: Co-Owner of Hatchet Farms, Jamison, Alabama.


Amy Dismuckes, MS Ag. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Graduated Summer 2008.

M.S. Ag. Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology, Auburn University.

Current position: Horticulutre expension agent, Georgia.    


Stan R. Usery, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Rotylenchulus reniformis tolerant and/or resistant cotton varieties.

Graduated Spring 2005.

Key accomplishments: Presented 4 conference papers; Published 1 paper from his thesis; Published 17 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the Outstanding Masters Graduate Student in Plant Pathology, May 2005.

Current position: Co-owner of Usery Farms, and owner of Usery Nematode services in Elkmont, Alabama.


Jarrod R. Jones, M. S. Plant Pathology. Major Professor

Thesis Title: Cotton production utilizing winter cover crops for disease suppression and enhanced soil health.

Graduated Summer 2004.

Key accomplishments: Presented 2 conference papers; Published 2 paper from his thesis; Published 17 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the Outstanding Masters Graduate Student in Plant Pathology, May 2004.

Current position: Assistant Director of the Gulf Coast Research Center, Auburn University.


Nicholas W. Greer, M. Ag. Plant Pathology. Co-Major with Dr. Joe Kloepper

M.S. Ag. Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology, Auburn University.

Graduated Summer 2004.

Current position: Aphis, Shreveport, LA.


Aaron J. Palmateer, Ph.D. 2003. Plant Pathology. Co-Major with Dr. Morgan-Jones

Dissertation Title: Mycoflora relations and interactions with Rotylenchulus reniformis on cotton.

Graduated Summer 2003.

Key accomplishments: Presented 4 conference papers; Published 4 papers from his dissertation; Published 57 Peer-reviewed papers; Awarded the competitive Auburn University Harry Merriwether Fellowship (2000-2003) monetary award of $4000; Awarded the Auburn University Graduate Student Research Award May 2003; Awarded the Outstanding Ph.D. student in the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology at Auburn University May 2003; Awarded the Southern Division American Phytopathological Society travel award of $1000.

Current position: Associate Professor & Extension Specialist, Ornamental Plant Pathology, Tropical Research & Education Center of the University of Florida.

Jane Farr. M.S. of Ag. 2012. Major advisor, J. F. Kloepper, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Current position: Director of the Plant Science Research Center, Auburn University.

Alexander Klapp. M. S. 2012. The use of Anaerobic Fermentation Acids and Aldehydes to Control Nematodes and Improve Soil Health. Major advisor, R. Rodriguez-Kabana, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Santosh Shiwakoti, M.S. 2011. Management Effects on Yield and Flavonoid Content in American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). Major advisor, Dennis Shannon, Agronomy and Soils Department.

Cigdem Surmelioglu, M. S. 2011. Genetic Resistance to Reniform nematode (Rotylenchulus reniformis) in Upland Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Major advisor, David Weaver, Agronomy and Soils Department.

Marleny Cadena-Burkett, Ph.D. 2010. Studies on re-colonization of microbial populations in the rhizosphere of Chrysanthemum after soil steaming. Major advisor, J. F. Kloepper, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Current position: Research Scientist with Pathway Biologicals, Tampa, FL.

Carmilo Ramirez. 2010. Mechanisms of action in Bacilli PGPR for Plant Growth Promotion and Biocontrol. Major advisor, J. F. Kloepper, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Current position: Professor University of Columbia.

Vijay Kotamraju. 2010. Commercial Potential of Microbial Inoculants for Sheath Blight Management and Yield Enhancement of Rice. Major advisor, R.Muagala, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Current position: Extension Scientist India.

George Matusick, Ph.D. 2010. Pathogenicity and virulence of root-inhabiting Ophiostomatoid fungi to PINUS species of the southeastern United States. School of Forestry, Major advisor, Dr. Lori Eckhart Integrated Forest Pathology/Entomology, Auburn University. Current position: Postdoctoral Researcher, Australia.

Natosha Simpson, M. S. 2010. Functional Genomics of Reniform Nematode Interactions with the Cotton Species, Gossypium arboreum and Gossypium longicalyx. Major advisor: Dr. Ramesh Kantety Department of Plant and Soil Science Alabama A&M University.

Geraldine Nicole Moss, M. S. 2010. Genomics of the Reniform Nematode Interactions with Cotton Species: Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium barbadense. Major advisor: Dr. Ramesh Kantety Department of Plant and Soil Science Alabama A&M University.

Robert McEwan, M. S. 2010. Rapid Detection of Rotylenchulus reniformis DNA in a Soil Metagenomic Pool and Evaluation of Tomato Germplasm for Resistance. Major advisor: Dr. Ramesh Kantety Department of Plant and Soil Science Alabama A&M University. Current position: Research Assistant Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis

Yonathan Tilahun, Ph. D. 2009. Gene expression during early infection to reniform nematode in Gossypium species. Major advisor: Dr. Ramesh Kantety Department of Plant and Soil Science Alabama A&M University.

Tatu Nyaku, M. S. 2009. Tomato gene expression during reniform nematode infections. Major advisor: Dr. Ramesh Kantety Department of Plant and Soil Science Alabama A&M University.

Anthony Adesemoye, Ph. D. 2009. Major advisor: Dr. Joe Kloepper, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University.

Jessica Cofield, M. S. 2009. Identification of genes involved in the production of a novel antifungal agent (7, 10, 12-trihydroxy-8(E)-octadecenoic acid) in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Major advisor: Sang-Jin Suh, Microbiology Department, Auburn University.

Billy Hatcher, MS Ag. 2009. Major advisor: Dr. John Murphy, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University.

Sandeep Ready Marla, M. S. 2008. Evaluation of Crotalaria juncea populations as a summer covercrop to manage Meloidogyne incognita and Rotylenchulus reniformis. Major advisor: Dr. Robin Huettle, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University.

Marleny Cadena-Burkett, M.S. 2008. Suppressiveness of root-knot nematodes mediated by rhizobacteria. Major advisor: Dr. Joe Kloepper, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University.

Maria E. Rivas-Davila, Ph.D. 2005. Her research focuses on PGPR inoculation as alternative to nitrogen fertilization in turf grasses. Her major advisor is Dr. Joe Kloepper, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Chris da Paz, Ph.D. 2004. Her research focuses on induced systemic resistance elicited by PGPR on soybean infected by Rhizoctonia solani: anatomical and biochemical features. Major advisor: Dr. Joe Kloepper, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Chris Partridge, Ph.D. 2002. His research is a revisionary study of the Haplotrichum-complex (Hyphomycetes) with a consideration of morphologically similar Cladosporium-like taxa. Major advisor: Dr. Gareth Morgan-Jones, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

William Baker, Ph.D. 2002. His research is a revisionary study of several genera of lignicolous Hyphomycetes. Major advisor: Dr. Gareth Morgan-Jones, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Hernan Garcia-Ruiz, M. S., 2000. Mature plant resistance of pepper to Cucumber mosaic virus. Major advisor: Dr. John F. Murphy, Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology.