Our Team

Our goals are to conduct the highest quality research and to provide real-life solutions to intractable issues and grand challenges in forest health.  We are bound together on a scientific journey to better understand the ecology of forest insects in a constantly changing world.  Simply put, we want to achieve wise use, conservation, and stewardship of our natural resources.

Dr. Kamal J.K. Gandhi
Wheatley Distinguished Professor of Forest Health, Director

Kamal is a forest entomologist.  She's also a dancer, meditator, mother, hiker, and cancer survivor.  Kamal is a strong advocate of making every moment count, and living a full and creative life. 

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Brittany Barnes, M.S.
Research Professional

Brittany runs the day-to-day forest entomology program at the University of Georgia.  She enjoys yoga, camping, hiking, traveling, people, and her cute cat.

Dr. Chelsea Miller
Postdoctoral Researcher

Chelsea recently graduated with a PhD focused on insect-mediated seed dispersal, plant rarity & drivers of distribution of Trillium.  Her current work focuses on the effects of weather disturbances on forest beetle communities.

Dr. Christine Fortuin
Postdoctoral Researcher

Christine is assessing the impacts of hurricanes on forests and insects. She enjoys dancing, poetry, traveling, and spending time with her young daughter. 

Haley Ritger
Ph.D. Candidate

Haley is working on the interactions between longleaf pine physiology, bark beetles, and prescribed fire.  She's currently working at the Clemson University while writing her dissertation.

Ben Gochnour
Ph.D. Student

Ben will be working on the interactions between longleaf pine restoration, bark beetles, and associated fungal and bacterial symbionts.

Seth Spinner
M.S. Student

Seth is studying the impacts of severe wind disturbance on woodboring beetle populations in pine plantations. Seth is an avid hiker, gardener, and insect collector. 

Christine Favorito 
M.S. Student

Christine is investigating how working forests affect pollinator communities.  When not chasing insects, Christine enjoys hiking, exploring new places, and baking.

Katie O'Shields
M.S. Student

Katie is studying the chemical ecology of southern pine beetle.  She enjoys being outside and likes to spend her free time drawing.

Keith Caprio
M.F.R. Student

Keith is a MFR student looking to combine his interest in wood pests with background in communication degree. He's an avid hiker, biker, and loves spending time with his three cats.

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Emma Briggs
M.S. Student

Emma is studying the impact of herbicides on native bees in managed forests. When not thinking about bees, she enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and hanging out with her dog.

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Ourania Nikoliadis
Ph.D. Student

Ourania is focused on the effects of hurricane-force wind disturbances on arthropod communities. She enjoys hiking, camping, trail running, and spending time with her rabbit, Bun and bearded dragon, Fuego. 

Mitchell Green
M.S. Student

Mitchell is studying the biocontrol of emerald ash borer. He enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors and especially loves hiking, running, and exploring new places with his dog, Buckley. 

Previous Personnel

Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Researchers (current positions)

  1. Brittany Barnes, M.S. (University of Georgia - Research Professional)

  2. Nicholas Bolton, Postdoctoral Researcher (WestRock Company - Professional Forester)

  3. Jamie Bookwalter, M.S. (Barcelona University Autonoma, Spain - Ph.D. Student)

  4. Kayla Brownell, M.S. (Georgia Department of Agriculture - Agriculture Inspector)

  5. Jordan Burke, M.S. (University of British Columbia - Postdoctoral Researcher) - a brilliant star who left us too soon

  6. Lea Clark, M.F.R. (Georgia Forestry Commission - Community Forester)

  7. David Coyle, Postdoctoral Researcher (Clemson University - Assistant Professor)

  8. Christine Fortuin, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Researcher - University of Georgia)

  9. Bailey McNichol, M.S. (University of Nebraska - Ph.D. student)

  10. Angela Mech, Ph.D. (University of Maine - Assistant Professor)

  11. Holly Munro, Ph.D. (NCASI - Senior Research Scientist, starting in 2022)

  12. Derek Robertson, M.S. (Athens, Georgia)

  13. Ashley Schulz, M.S. (Mississippi State University - Assistant Professor)

  14. Ansley Silva, M.S. (University of Washington - Yoga Instructor)

  15. Jenny Staeben, Ph.D. (Lawyer, Wyoming)

  16. Thomas Whitney, Ph.D. (Davey Tree Company - Entomologist)

International Exchange Students

Danyang Fu, Ph.D., China

Jiangming Yao, Ph.D., China

Christiane Helbig, Ph.D., Germany

Undergraduate Students & Technicians (select, >25)

Joel Adair

Jackson Audley

Jamie Botsch

John Doyle

Madeleine Dupuy

Shawn Harrington

Steven Hughes

Sarah Klinect

Danielle Sank

High School Students (select)

Eduardo Ricome

Mauranda Upchruch

Nakia Lee