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Lab Members

Dr. Rufus Isaacs

Professor & Extension Specialist

Dr. Isaacs directs the Berry Crops Entomology program, with a focus on the ecology and management of insects in perennial fruit crops. Research projects are on pests, natural enemies, and pollinators within vineyards and berry farms. The current pest projects include blueberry stem gall wasp, spotted wing Drosophila, post-harvest control of blueberry maggot, and grape berry moth. We are also studying native plants for supporting beneficial insects, and climate change-driven disruptions of blueberry pollination.

As an Extension Specialist, Dr. Isaacs evaluates current and new pest control options and integrates them into IPM programs where appropriate. Findings are extended to small fruit industries through presentations, extension publications, websites, and on-farm evaluation and demonstration trials providing real-world experience with new practices.

For a full CV, please contact Dr. Isaacs.

Email: isaacsr “at”

Lauren Goldstein

Lab Manager and Research Technician

Lauren received her B.S. in biology from the University of Florida in 2021, and her M.S. in entomology from Michigan State University in 2023. Her graduate research in the Isaacs lab was on the assessment of honey bee colony strength for commercial pollination of northern highbush blueberry.

Currently, Lauren is involved with a number of projects related to both pollinator health and pest management in berry crops systems. Her primary research areas of focus involve the improvement of blueberry pollination and the management of economically important pests of blueberry farms and vineyards. Additionally, she assists with general lab management and project coordination. 


Steve Van Timmeren


Steve received his B.S. in Biology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI in 1997 and his M.S. in Biological Sciences from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL in 2000. His Master’s research was on the emergence and reproductive behaviors of the Japanese beetle, studying when male and female beetles emerged from the soil and how emergence related to specific mating and egg laying behaviors.

As a research technician in the Berry Crops Entomology laboratory, Steve is involved in various projects with a primary focus on two important pests, the spotted wing Drosophila and blueberry stem gall wasp.  

In their spare time, Steve and his wife enjoy doing just about anything outside. This includes everything from cross-country skiing in winter to running all year round. They also try to keep up with their two daughters who always keep them busy!


Jenna Walters

PhD Student

Jenna is a PhD student studying the influence of extreme heat conditions on blueberry pollination and bee nutrition. Her work draws from an applied ecology background as she studies the entire blueberry crop system- pollen physiology and chemistry, fruit yield and quality, and bee health and diet preference. Jenna has broad interests in pollination ecology across natural and managed systems and is particularly interested in understanding the ramifications of climate change on crop and bee health. Jenna’s work is supported by the Michigan Blueberry Commission.

Sharron (Ronnie) Miller

PhD Student

Ronnie received her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Nevada, Reno and A.S. at Truckee Meadows Community College. She is currently a PhD student studying native bee communities in urban to agricultural landscape transitions. This includes how pesticide exposure and pollen use vary across these landscapes, bee health, pollinator perception from stakeholders, and opportunities for conservation and outreach.  

Ronnie’s work aims to inform current and future conservation practices. Some of her research is in collaboration with the Rusty Patch Recovery Plan (Bombus affinis) to study existing bumble bee communities in areas where Rusty Patch has not been seen for some time. Community science, pollinator perspective, and outreach/extension are additions to her research that hope to encourage the general public to learn about and care for our native bees.  



Dr. Marwa Farouk Kamel Aly

Postdoctoral researcher

Dr. Marwa Aly is an Assistant Professor at Plant Protection Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Minia University, Egypt. She received her phD through Joint Supervision mission at 2010 to 2012 between Minia University and Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana State, USA with Dr. Steve Yaninek studying ecological and biological studies on leafminers (Liriomyza trifolii). Also, she was a postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State University at 2016 to 2018 worked with Dr. Hannah Burrack (she is chairperson now of Entomology Department College of Natural Resources at Michigan State University). Dr. Marwa Aly worked with Dr. Hannah on Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in rearing colony and doing research on postharvest cold storage on the development and survival of SWD. Also, she has a great experience in rearing SWD on artificial diet and done research on social signals mediate oviposition site selection in SWD. Additionally, she worked in a project for SWD females reproductive system dissection to know how different baits affect SWD eggs maturity.

Dr. Marwa Aly joined the Isaacs Lab in March 2022 as a postdoctoral researcher. She is interested to work on using a parasitoid wasp for biological control of SWD. As a result of this wok, we expect lower populations of SWD, thereby also reducing SWD infestation in crops and supporting the further improvement of IPM programs for this invasive pest. This work could decrease relying on pesticides which harmful for benefit organisms. 

Rekha Bhandari


Rekha is a Ph.D. student in the lab since August 2023. Her research interests are focused on monitoring and managing insects in agroecosystemS by utilizing existing IPM tools and by developing innovative IPM strategies. She is fascinated by research related to understanding insect behavior, insect ecology, and chemical ecology. Her Ph.D. research will focus on understanding insect vector dynamics in the grape sour rot complex and developing IPM tactics for its management in vineyards.

She strives to contribute to outreach and extension by providing information about insect pests to growers and other stakeholders in an engaging way through educational videos, factsheets, and hands-on activities.