Graduate Students

NameDegreeAreas of InterestAdvisor
Jacob BotkinPhDMy research focuses on developing an assay for the detection and quantification of Aphanomyces cochlioides, the causal agent of damping off and root rot of sugarbeet; using RNA-Seq to evaluate host-pathogen interactions, and genome sequencing to look at oomycete effectors and the genetic diversity of A. cochlioides isolates; and developing a remote sensing technique to detect Aphanomyces root rot of sugarbeet.Ashok Chanda
Davy DeKreyPhDMy graduate research is focused on morphological and genetic identification of endophytic and pathogenic fungi of cold hardy grapes grown here in the Midwest. The ultimate goal of my graduate research is to help determine and establish best practices for viticulturists that grow in our particular growing climate.Robert Blanchette, Matthew Clark
Ryan FrankeMSI will be investigating native canker-rot, wilt and root rot fungi for their potential to act as biological agents of control for Frangula alnus and Rhamnus cathartica (Glossy Buckthorn and Common Buckthorn, respectively). I will also develop technologies for the field application of the fungal agents. Robert Blanchette
Pranaya KakiPhDMy research is focused on mechanisms of microbial interactions in the synthetic microcosm designed for corn rhizosphere with the goal of reducing pathogen pressure and nitrogen fertilizers.Devanshi Khokhani
Ji Hyun (Jay) KimMSMy research focus is in molecular interaction between soybean and its pathogen Screlotinia screlotiorum. I will be looking into different components of plant and microbial extracellular vesicles and how these vesicles interact with each other. Ashish Ranjan
Yoonjung LeePhD
My research focuses on small grain resistance genes, specifically examining diverse barley germplasm and studying bacterial leaf streak resistance caused by Xanthomonas translucens pv. translucens in barley. My goal is to identify resistance genes related to BLS in barley. Additionally, I will explore the characteristics of various disease resistance genes and seed traits in barley using diverse germplasm.
Brian Steffenson
Kay LerohlMSI am assessing the genetic diversity of Verticillium spp. in Minnesota, and identifying resistant potato lines. I am interested in investigating the molecular interactions between the plant host and pathogen to identify genes related to virulence and resistance.Ashish Ranjan
Austin LienPhDMy research focuses on Cercospora leaf spot, caused by the fungus Cercospora beticola; specifically the identification of fungicide interactions that impact disease control, relative root yield, and quality for future recommendations in fungicide management strategies. My research improves fungicide decision-support systems while providing insights into epidemiology, population biology, aerobiology, and disease prediction.Ashok Chanda
Andrew MannPhDMy research will investigate fungi associated with bark and wood-boring beetles that are invasive in the U.S. and China. I will study potential functions of these fungi and use sequencing to understand how these fungi may have changed during invasion.Robert Blanchette, Kathryn Bushley
Alisha MildenbergerMSMy research will focus on understanding soybean structural linkages to Sclerotinia stem rot development also known as white mold of soybean. Specifically, I am going to look at plant architecture along with the amount of light that reaches the apothecia and how it affects disease development.Megan McCaghey
Colin PetersPhDMy research focuses on the effectiveness and application of using fungi as biological control for the emerald ash borer. I will also characterize the relationship between these several species of entomopathogenic fungi with their beetle host across its various stages of development.Robert Blanchette
Kevin PropstMSMy research analyzes the effects of abiotic stress in maize using hyperspectral imaging and the plant's nutritional composition after being exposed to these stressors.Cory Hirsch
Nick RajtarPhDMy research is focusing on invasive forest pathogens in Minnesota with emphasis on detecting Phytophthora species as well as Heterobasidion irregulare.Robert Blanchette
Nisha Paneru RegmiMSMy research focuses on enhancement and diversification of stem rust resistance in wheat. I will also characterize the races of the stem rust pathogen, ๐˜—๐˜ถ๐˜ค๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ข ๐˜จ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ด f. sp. ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ช,  from the international collection.Pablo Olivera Firpo
Sam RudePhDMy research focuses on developing a DNA-based diagnostic tool for identification and quantification of Aphanomyces cochlioides, the causal agent of Aphanomyces root rot of Sugarbeet, in field and soil. I will also be investigating the genetic and pathogenic diversity in isolates of Aphanomyces spp including Aphanomyces euteiches and identifying genes involved in pathogenicity and host-pathogen interactions.Ashok Chanda
Alexis ShatrauMSMy research will be centered around brown stem rot (BSR) in soybeans. I will investigate more detailed molecular diagnostic techniques for detecting BSR, as well as finding a current host range for BSR in Minnesota among other potential projects.Dean Malvick
Sofia SimetoPhDMy research will focus on the fungal community associated with Emerald Ash Borer and the role those fungi play in ash decline and mortality. I also will study the entomopathogenic fungi associated with EAB as potential biocontrol agents of the pest.Robert Blanchette
Connor SlawinMSMy research is focused on fusarium head blight of barley, a disease caused by Fusarium graminearum which produces the mycotoxin DON.  I am investigating how F. graminearum infects barley, how to improve barley's resistance to the pathogen, and how DON is produced.Brian Steffenson, Mitch Elmore
Josรฉ SolรณrzanoPhDMy research will focus on understanding the distribution and factors that contribute to spread and establishment of tar spot of corn; expanding knowledge of the host range, etiology, and detection methodologies for tar spot and the pathogen; and investigating the potential for management of tar spot with fungicides and/or resistant hybrids.Dean Malvick
Nick TalmoPhDMy research will be focused on characterizing phenylpropanoid pathway genes involved in soybean resistance and susceptibility to S. sclerotiorum. Following characterization, we will explore manipulation of expression of these genes as a means of imparting enhanced resistance to this fungal pathogen.Ashish Ranjan
Molly Veregge PhDMy research focuses on rust diseases of cereal crops, particularly wheat stem rust caused by the fungal pathogen Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt). We are using phenotypic and genomic data of a sexually recombining population of Pgt to uncover avirulence genes in the pathogen population.Pablo Olivera Firpo
Hsuan Fu WangPhDMy research will be focused on characterizing aggressiveness determinants of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and using gene silencing strategies to target these determinants.Megan McCaghey