Garnas Lab updates: 2019 – today

August 30, 2023

It’s been a while since we’ve posted any news on the Garnas Lab site . . . so here’s a big update to catch you up on the last FOUR years! We plan to post to the site more often, and we just transitioned the site over to WordPress so it is even easier to edit.  


In early 2019, Bre Aflague defended her master’s thesis focused on emerald ash borer, and Caroline Kanaskie defended her master’s thesis focused on southern pine beetle community ecology on Long Island, New York. Around that same time, Dr. Todd Johnson joined the lab as a postdoc, working on emerald ash borer biocontrol. Todd came to us after completing his PhD in Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Casey Coupe joined the lab as a technician. In fall 2019, Caroline & Bre officially began their PhD journeys in the lab through the NRESS PhD program, and Ken Windstein continued his masters work on beech bark disease. 


Most of the lab attended the 2020 Northeast Forest Pest Council (NEFPC) meeting in Portland, Maine in late February, not knowing it would be one of the last times we’d be together in person for a while. Unsurprisingly, not too much else of note happened in the lab in 2020—but Chris Ziadeh did decide to join the lab as a master’s student after several years as a technician during his undergrad. 


In fall 2021, Santiago Rivera-Reyes joined the lab as a masters student. Santi’s work focuses on beech bark disease from a molecular biology standpoint. 


Ken wrapped up his masters in early 2022. Caroline passed her comprehensive exam in the spring, becoming a PhD candidate. In the fall, we welcomed Dr. Carrie Fearer to the group as a postdoc and Erin Reilly as a masters student. Carrie earned her PhD at the Ohio State University, studying beech leaf disease. Carrie’s postdoc work involved FIA data and carbon storage as forests change over time. Erin’s masters work focuses on beech bark disease, building on Ken’s masters. 


In spring 2023, we welcomed Dr. Liz Clifton to our group. Liz earned her PhD from the University of Connecticut, studying termites. In the Garnas lab, Liz is working on a project with the USDA focusing on emerald ash borer biocontrol in the Midwest. Also in the spring, Bre passed her comprehensive exam (yay, candidacy!!) and Chris Ziadeh successfully defended his masters and wrapped up his tenure here in the Garnas Lab. Chris has been involved with the lab since very early days. We will miss him! In summer 2023, Santi defended his masters thesis.  


As another school year rolls around, Santi is continuing on to the PhD program in Microbiology!  We also welcome a new masters student, Patrick Lemis, and a new postdoc, Dr. Carl Bascom Jr. Patrick is focusing on beech leaf disease, and Carl is continuing Carrie’s postdoc work since she accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech! Eric Morrison has concluded his time as a postdoc and is now a Research Scientist—still in our lab, with a snazzy new title. Jeff is on sabbatical in Switzerland at the University of Lucerne, diving deep into theories of ecology & evolution. Caroline is teaching Forest Health (NR782/882) while Jeff is away. Erin is TAing Forest Health and wrapping up her masters field work. Casey is managing and assisting with field and lab work for several projects involving a suite of subjects, including browntail moth, beech bark disease, loosestrife beetle, and ticks. Liz has organized a lab writing group, and she is working on summarizing and analyzing three years of USDA data on EAB parasitoid populations. Bre has entered the writing stage and is teaching middle school science.  

We are a large group, and clearly, we study many different aspects of forest insect ecology & evolution. In future updates, we hope to dive into some of our projects in more detail. If we’ve piqued your interest, drop us a line! You can get in touch with us at 

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