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" msu.edu


Jackie Perkins

Lab Manager and Research Technician

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.

In the Isaacs lab, Jackie is  involved with a number of projects related to both pest management and pollinator health and she also 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. 

Contact: albertj9@msu.edu


Steve Van Timmeren

RESEARCH TECHNICIAN

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!

Contact: vantimm2@msu.edu


Dr. Kelsey K. Graham

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr. Kelsey Graham received her Ph.D from Tufts University (Medford, MA) in 2017. She joined the Isaacs Lab in May 2017 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate working on a USDA NIFA funded project targeting the focus areas highlighted in the federal Pollinator Research Action Plan. A major focus of this project included longitudinal assessments of pollinator communities in agricultural and natural landscapes to assess short and long-term population changes in Michigan pollinators.

Currently, Kelsey is a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellow (awarded in 2019). Her research focus for this project is to better understand how farm scale management decisions by blueberry growers impacts the insect community. This includes assessing pesticide exposure of both wild and managed bees and assessing the role of wildflower plantings in promoting natural enemy suppression of key crop pests.

For more information please visit: https://www.kelseykgraham.com 


Dr. Zhaorigetu Hubhachen

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATE

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. Hi 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. 


Gabriela Quinlan

PhD Student

Gabriela's research interests lie broadly in pollinator ecology and conservation. She is interested in the community ecology of native bees, mutualisms between plants and their pollinators on a large scale, and how to apply the research to ecosystem management and habitat restoration. Specifically, she is eager to ask questions about how floral communities influence bee health.

Currently Gabriela is working on a USGS-funded project aimed at understanding the landscape level effects of pollinator habitat on honeybee health. Her previous research as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University focused on pathogen prevalence of native bees in urban environments. Gabriela's professional goal is to combine research, teaching and outreach through a career in academia. 

Jenna Walters

M.S. Student

Jenna is a M.S. 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.


Henry Pointon

Professional Aide

Henry received his BA in biology from Kalamazoo College working with endangered butterflies in prairie fen wetlands in southern Michigan. Henry joined the Isaacs lab in June 2019 working with integrated pest management in blueberry and grape crops as well as pollinator health. His time is spread out over many of the projects in the lab. Currently Henry is focusing on blueberry stem gall wasp parasitoid interactions, drosophila insecticide resistance, and management strategies, and effects climate change on pollinator health and nutrition.

Department of Entomology

http://www.ent.msu.edu
288 Farm Lane
243 Natural Science Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824
Phone 517-355-4633
Fax 517-432-7061

Dr. Rufus Isaacs

isaacsr@msu.edu
Berry Crops Entomology Lab
Department of Entomology
Michigan State University
578 Wilson Rd, Room 202
Center for Integrated Plant Systems
East Lansing MI 48824