PI and Lab manager

Research Technologist

  • Rebecca Higgins, October 2018 to present.

    Becky is responsible for the Sclerotinia sclerotiorum bean line evaluation research and maintains the culture collection.

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Margarita Marroquin-Guzman, Ph.D., June 2017 to present.

    Margarita is currently working on the meta-community analysis of the microbial communities associated with different cover crops in Nebraska. This research aims to improve our understanding of whether cover crops are serving as a green bridge for detrimental/beneficial microbes in the soil.

Graduate Students

  • Nikita Gambhir, Doctoral student, August 2015 to present.

    Nikita’s doctoral research is in genome analysis of S. sclerotiorum mutational lines to improve our understanding of the microscale evolution of this pathogen. She is also characterizing the population structure and fungicide sensitivity Rhizoctonia zeae that she has collected from Nebraska.

  • Edgar H. Nieto-Lopez, Doctoral student, August 2016 to present.

    Edgar is conducting a project to assess fungicide sensitivity and population structure of S. sclerotiorum from soybean, potato, and dry bean in the North Central States and Mexico. This is much needed work to improve our understanding of the “hidden epidemiology” of this pathogen.

  • Karen F. Da Silva, Doctoral student, June 2018 to present.

    Karen’s research is focused on improving our understanding of the Clavibacter michigainensis pv. nebraskensis interaction with the fall armyworm on corn. She will also conduct a meta-analysis of previous S. sclerotiorum population genetic studies. Complementary to her scientific inquiries, she also aims to assess leadership needs and training of graduate students in the agSTEM sciences across the United States, to increase professional skill development in our students.

Undergraduate Lab Assistants

  • Rachel Persson, undergraduate in Biochemistry, May 2018 to present.

    Rachel received competitive research funding from the UNL UCARE program. Her research is focused on development of a set of DNA standards for S. sclerotiorum genotyping studies to enable data from previous published studies to be combined.

Past Members

Listed in reverse chronological order:

  • Audrey Vega, lab assistant and Biological Systems Engineering Major, Nov. 2017 to May 2018
  • Isabel Chavez, lab assistant and undergraduate in Biological Systems Engineering Major, November 2017 to May 2018
  • Zhian N. Kamvar, Postdoctoral Scholar January 2017 to April 2018. Zhian is now working with Thiabaut Jombart in the UK.

  • Thomas J. J. Miorini, Postdoctoral Scholar April 2016 to April 2017; January 2018 to April 2018. Thomas is now working with Dr. Michael Wunsch at North Dakota State University.

  • Alex N. Johnson, Lab Assistant July 2017 to January 2018. Alex will be attending medical school this fall.

  • Jimin Kamvar, Digital Communications Liaison and content manager for UNL Department of Plant Pathology website, September to December, 2017.

  • Anthony Pannullo, undergraduate in Biological Sciences and former lab assistant / honors thesis student from March 2016 to July 2017. Anthony is now a graduate student in the microbiology program at the University of Iowa.

  • Morgan Thompsen, undergraduate in Biological Sciences and former lab assistant from March 2016 to December 2016.

  • Josh Hanson, undergraduate in Biological Systems Engineering and former lab assistant from September 2014 to December 2016.

  • B. Sajeewa Amaradasa, postdoctoral scholar from August 2014 to July 2016 and now a postdoc with Nick DuFault at the University of Florida

  • Sarah Campbell, undergraduate in Biological Sciences and former lab assistant from September 2014 to May 2016. Sarah is now a graduate student in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia, co-supervised by Drs. Phil Brannen and Harald Scherm.

  • Flavio Nunes Da Silva, Agronomic Engineering major at Federal University of Sao Carlos, Araras, Brazil and lab intern during the summer of 2015 as part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility “Science without Borders” Program.


Active research collaborators

  • Guido Schnable, Clemson University

  • Jim Steadman, University of Nebraska

  • Anthony Adesemoye, University of Nebraska WCREC

  • Amauri Bogo, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Brazil

  • Gerard Adams, University of Nebraska

  • Denita Hadziabdic-Guerry, University of Tennessee