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” msu.edu
Jackie received her M.S. in Entomology from Michigan State University in 2018 studying pesticide exposure of honey bees during tart cherry and apple pollination. Additionally, she has prior research experiences working with pest insects in apple and cherry orchards, as well as studies involving native bees and wildflower habitat enhancements on farms.
She joined the Isaacs lab in 2018 and is involved with a number of projects related to both pest management and pollinator health. Additionally, she assists with general lab management and project coordination. Primary areas of focus involve the economically important pests spotted-wing drosophila, blueberry stem gall wasp, and grape berry moth. Jackie is also involved with projects seeking to improve blueberry pollination and overall bee health.
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!
Dr. Zhaorigetu Hubhachen received his Ph.D. from Department of Entomology, Oklahoma State University studying how rearing temperature affects fatty acid metabolism in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. He has trained broadly in insect biochemistry, insect physiology, insect molecular biology, insect endocrinology, stored product pest management and insect taxonomy. He is an expert in the development of molecular markers for the fast detection of phosphine resistant populations of stored grain pests. His research has helped to shorten the date for the determination of a given population in a grain storage by at least two weeks compared to the normal bioassay, resulting in significant reduction in the amount of economic loss for the grain storage industries. Recently he joins Dr. Isaacs research group to develop a new method applying phosphine fumigant to control the blueberry maggot.
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.
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.
Lauren joined the Isaacs Lab in May 2021 as an M.S. student. She is currently involved in the USDA SCRI project aiming to improve blueberry pollination. She is also investigating different methods of assessing honey bee colony strength. Lauren has broad interests in bee health and colony performance, and hopes her graduate research can be used to inform management strategies for beekeepers and growers in order to improve pollination services.
Dr. Maxime Eeraerts was born and raised in Belgium, Europe. At Ghent University he obtained his Master’s degree of Bioscience Engineering in Forest and Nature Management in 2013, and a Master’s degree in Environmental Sanitation and Environmental Management in 2014. Afterwards Maxime worked on multiple projects about applied entomology in fruit cultivation, landscape ecology and ecotoxicological studies focused on wild bees. In 2020, Maxime obtained a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences at Ghent University. During his PhD project he studied how landscape structure and the diversity of pollinating insects mediate crop pollination in sweet cherry orchards. In 2021 Maxime, joined the team of Dr. DeVetter at WSU to focus on improving the use of honey bees to enhance blueberry pollination and yield.
Maxime joined the Isaacs lab in November 2021 as a BAEF post-doctoral fellow. His research will focus on evidence-synthesis of different insect pollinators and their contribution to pollination in fruit crops (apple, blueberry and sweet cherry). This includes a specific focus on the functional significance of pollinator functional diversity and also a focus on how the pollination service of insects varies across production regions and cultivars.
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.