Project Team

Below is a diagram of the project teams workflow. Click to enlarge the image.

Project Team Members

Elizabeth Beers is a Professor of Entomology with Washington State University based at the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee, WA. She has published on a diverse array of tree fruit pests and natural enemies in her 35+ years of experience working with tree fruit growers. She recorded the first occurrence of SWD in eastern Washington in 2010, and the first occurrence of the Asian parasitoids of SWD in 2021.  She is collaborating on the objectives in biological control, parasitoid releases, screening SWD populations for resistance, and behavioral control in cherries and blueberries (Objectives 3 and 4).

Hannah Burrack is a Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist for specialty crops at North Carolina State University. She is also the Platform Leader for Education & Outreach at the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative (NC PSI). Dr. Burrack’s research focuses on understanding the ecology of insect pests in tobacco, industrial hemp, and small fruits and utilizing this information to enhance pest management. She is particularly interested in landscape scale management issues, host preference behavior, and invasive species biology. Dr. Burrack will co-lead Objective 1.

Joanna Chiu is a Professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of California- Davis. Dr. Chiu’s research focuses on the regulation of circadian rhythms in animals using a combination of molecular genetics, biochemical, and proteomic approaches. Dr. Chiu’s research team is working to develop molecular markers that will enable us to detect and describe long distance SWD movement. Her research will provide us with tools to track SWD movement and produce off season management strategies. Dr. Chiu will lead the insecticide resistance monitoring and management component of the project (Objective 4).

Kent Daane is an extension specialist at the University of California- Berkeley. Dr. Daane’s research focuses on the development of ecologically-based insect pest management systems. Research studies include classical biological control, augmentation programs, insect-plant interactions, use of least-disruptive insecticides and the biology of natural enemies. Dr. Daane is leading a team to identify and quantify resident parasitoids and screen exotic parasitoids for their potential to be biological control agents against SWD. Dr. Daane will co-lead the biological control component of the project (Objective 3.1).

Philip Fanning is an Assistant Professor of Fruit Entomology at the University of Maine. He has 3 years of experience with SWD as a postdoc under Dr. Rufus Isaacs at Michigan State University. He currently works closely with lowbush blueberry growers in Maine to develop and implement sustainable IPM programs for economically important insect pests. Dr. Fanning will lead the implementation of BMPs work in lowbush blueberries in Maine.

Karina Gallardo is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the School of Economic Sciences at Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems at Washington State University. She has extensive experience in working with fruit growers in WA. Her work particularly focuses on understanding the profitability and factors affecting growers’ adoption of new technology. She has an extensive record of research and extension publication with over 50 peer reviewed publications and numerous extension presentations and publications to help farmers adopt new technologies to enhance profitability. Dr. Gallardo will co-lead Objective 2.

Miguel Gomez is the Robert G. Tobin Professor and faculty director of the Food Industry Management Program in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. Dr. Gómez’s research focuses on economic and marketing issues in food supply chains, and their intersection with economic, social and environmental sustainability. Dr. Gomez is working with our team to develop bioeconomic models to predict SWD impacts and to develop grower tools to identify profit-maximization strategies. Dr. Gomez co-leads Objective 2.

Kim Hoelmer is a research entomologist with the USDA-ARS in Newark, DE. His research focuses on introducing beneficial insects for the management of invasive insect pests. Dr. Hoelmer is working with Dr. Daane and Dr. Wang to establish exotic Asian parasitoids and, if needed, augment resident North American parasitoids, as part of an integrated pest management program for SWD. Dr. Hoelmer will co-lead the biological control component of the project.

Gwen Hoheisel is an Extension Specialist at Washington State University based at the Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Prosser, WA. She has extensive experience working with fruit producers to adopt novel technologies in production systems to enhance profitability and sustainability. She will work with blueberry and cherry growers in WA to enhance implementation of BMPs along with Dr. Beers and Dr. Northfield.

Rufus Isaacs is a Professor and Extension Specialist at Michigan State University. Dr. Isaacs’ research focuses on the ecology and behavior of insects in perennial fruit crops. His research group studies insects that are pests, natural enemies, and pollinators within these agricultural systems and in the surrounding landscapes. Additionally, his applied research-extension program develops and implements insect management programs for small fruit industries. Dr. Isaacs is leading our research focused on reducing reliance on insecticides for SWD management. Dr. Isaacs will co-lead the insecticide resistance monitoring and management component of the project (Objective 4).

Hannah Levenson is a postdoctoral research scholar and lead of the Specialty Crops IPPM lab at North Carolina State University. She is a community ecologist interested in investigating human impacts on the environment and exploring ways to mitigate those impacts. She has a broad research background and extension experience, but typically uses pollinators in agricultural settings with concepts of integrated pest and pollinator management as tools for her research. Since 2021, she has worked closely with blackberry growers in North Carolina to develop more sustainable management programs for SWD. Dr. Levenson will co-lead Objective 1.

Kay Kelsey is a Professor and Evaluation Specialist at University of Florida. She is a renowned qualitative research methodologist and program evaluator with over 25 years of experience, has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and has won over 31 national and international awards for outstanding achievements in the field of program evaluation. Dr. Kelsey will lead the evaluation of progress and socio-economic impact of this project (Objective 5.2).


Greg Loeb is a Professor of Entomology at Cornell University with research and extension responsibilities for grape and small fruit crops. His research interests focus on how host plant traits and other environmental factors influence interactions between plants and their herbivores, and herbivores and natural enemies with the specific applied goal of developing novel approaches to pest management. His more applied research program focuses on the ecology and integrated control of specific arthropod pests of grapes and small fruit crops. In addition to providing input on the overall direction of the project, Dr. Loeb is working on several objectives including Implementation of best management practices in NY (objective 1), development of economic-based decision tools (objective 1), alternatives to insecticides with specific emphasis on testing approaches to manipulating SWD behavior (objective 3), and extending actionable management recommendations for NY growers (objective 5). 

Tobin Northfield is an Assistant Professor of Fruit Entomology at Washington State University based at the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee, WA. His research focuses on the ecology and biology of insect pests and has experience working with specialty crop producers in Australia, Indonesia, and the US. He currently works closely with fruit growers in Washington to develop and implement sustainable IPM programs for economically important insect pest. He will lead the implementation of BMPs work in WA cherries and berries. Dr. Northfield will co-lead the development of economic decision aid tools component of the project Obj. assist Economists on the team.

Cesar Rodriguez-Saona is an Extension Specialist in Entomology at Rutgers University. Dr. Rodriguez-Saona’s research program works on the development and implementation of cost-effective reduced-risk IPM practices for blueberries and cranberries. This goal is achieved through the integration of chemical, behavioral, and biological methods in insect control and a better understanding on the ecology of pests and their natural enemies. Dr. Rodriguez-Saona’s team is working on developing an SWD-specific lure to enable better timing of treatment of SWD based on local risk. Dr. Rodriguez-Saona will co-lead the behavioral control component of the project (Objective 3.2).

Ash Sial is an Assistant Professor in Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia. Dr. Sial is the blueberry entomologist and IPM Coordinator for Georgia. His research program investigates the biology and ecology of major arthropod pests of blueberries in order to develop sustainable IPM programs, and disseminates that information to all stakeholders including commercial blueberry producers in a timely and convenient manner. Dr. Sial is working with our team to monitor for field resistance of SWD to insecticides. Additionally, Dr. Sial is the Project Director for an OREI-funded project on the organic management of SWD. Dr. Sial will lead the entire project as project director, and will co-lead Objective 5.1.

Vaughn Walton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. Dr. Walton’s research focuses on economically important pests, with the aim to provide environmentally sustainable and minimal impact pest management strategies for agriculturalists in Oregon and further afield. Multiple techniques are used in a whole-system approach to obtain sustainable means of production. Dr. Walton is working with our team to validate currently available SWD population models and create an interactive online decision aid using population models and real-time weather data to predict SWD population size and damage risk. Dr. Walton will co-lead Objective 1.

Xingeng Wang is a USDA/ARS Research Entomologist at the Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit in Newark, DE. He has been working for several years to develop biological control for SWD initially as a postdoc with Dr. Kent Daane at UC Berkeley and now as a Research Entomologist at the USDA. He has an extensive record of publications on SWD natural enemies. Dr. Wang will work with Dr. Hoelmer on the biological control component of the project.

Frank Zalom is a Distinguished Professor of Entomology at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Zalom’s research focuses on integrated pest management for tree, small fruit, and specialty crops. Dr. Zalom is participating in several aspects of our program focused on developing IPM tools for SWD and managing insecticide resistance. Dr. Zalom will work with California berry and cherry growers to monitor insecticide resistance (Objective 4) and implement behavioral controls (Objective 3.2).

Project staff

Arun Babu is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Georgia. His current research focuses on the behavioral and chemical management of spotted-wing drosophila in small fruit crops. Besides this, he has extensive research experience in insect ecology, insect sampling, insecticide resistance management, and Bt resistance management. He received a M.S. degree in Entomology from Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, and a Ph.D. in Entomology from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

Dylan Beal is a postdoc at Washington State University with Dr. Elizabeth Beers and Dr. Tobin Northfield at the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee, WA. Dr. Beal earned his PhD in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management at the University of California-Berkeley. He is collaborating on projects that adapt and optimize integrated pest management practices for SWD in Eastern WA cherry and blueberry with a focus on cultural, behavioral, and biological control. 

Bingyan Dai is a Ph.D. student in Applied Economics at Cornell University. She is interested in bioeconomics, analyzing the dynamic interaction between farmer behavior and complex environmental and ecological systems, using mathematical models and theory, and available observational data. Currently she works with Dr. Gomez on developing bioeconomic models to evaluate cost-effectiveness of monitoring-based SWD control strategies.

Beth Ferguson is a postdoc at Rutgers University with Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona. Dr. Ferguson earned her Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Arkansas. She is interested in integrated pest management, behavioral control, and pollinators.

Megan Carter is a Research Associate at the University of Maine. Megan’s research background is on agricultural entomology, with a focus on biological control and beneficial insects. Her M.S. thesis investigated population effects of a neonicotinoid insecticide on Binodoxys communis, a biological control agent of the Soybean Aphid, Aphis glycines. She joined the Fanning Lab at the University of Maine in July 2023, focusing on extension efforts and biological control efforts of spotted-wing drosophila.

Binita Shrestha is a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Greg Loeb at Cornell AgriTech, Cornell University. She received her PhD in entomology from the University of Florida. She has worked with trap crops in the cabbage cropping system, tri-trophic interactions in citrus, and behavioral manipulation in berries. She is interested in biological control, integrated pest management, and plant-insect interactions.

Amanda Stout is a Biological Science Technician working in Newark, DE for USDA-ARS. Throughout her career she has been focused on investigating biological control methods for various insects including mile-a-minute weevil, brown marmorated stink bug, and SWD. Currently she is the lead technician for SWD in Kim Hoelmer’s lab and is working closely with Dr. Wang and Dr. Daane to establish several colonies and rearing methods for SWD parasitoids.

Steve Van Timmeren is a research technician working with Rufus Isaacs at Michigan State University on various projects with a primary focus on two important pests, the SWD and blueberry stem gall wasp. Steve earned his MS at Eastern Illinois University where he studied emergence and reproduction behaviors of Japanese beetle.