Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.  – Amy Poehler

Current Team

Professor of Forest Entomology

Brian Aukema

Brian moved the lab to the University of Minnesota in 2010 after a few years as a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service at the University of Northern British Columbia. He has degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in forest entomology (MS, PhD) and biometry (environmental statistics, MS). In 2011, he was awarded a University McKnight Land-Grant Professorship. As a transplanted Canadian, his favourite type of stick is a hockey stick.


Talia Michaud

From the foothills of Connecticut, Talia discovered ecology at Mount Holyoke College before moving to Peter Kennedy's lab at UMN, studying fungal responses to historical environmental change for her PhD. She is excited to learn more about forest entomology and emerald ash borer as a new postdoctoral researcher in the Aukema Lab. Talia enjoys convening with parrots, reading a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and searching for mushrooms.

PhD Candidate

Emily Althoff

Following an undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois and a Masters at the University of Missouri, Emily arrived to help elucidate the chemical ecology of eastern larch beetle and study its natural enemies. Emily has completed the Preparing Future Faculty track for a career in teaching and outreach. She hails from Belleville, Illinois and is a Swiftie.

PhD Student

Jessica Rootes

Following a six-year stint in the US Air Force as a linguist working in intelligence, Jess arrived to study the dynamics of eastern spruce budworm in Minnesota and on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. She remains the only lab member past and present with a course on her transcripts entitled "Predictive Battlespace Awareness." Jess is an accomplished photographer and also enjoys all things crafty.

MS Student

Rose Picklo

Rose came to us with a strong biomedical and microbiology background, including several years overseeing the quality control lab for a local brewery (need a beer recommendation? Rose can help!).  Rose is now unraveling the secrets of diapause in eastern larch beetle. Her dedication to learning and experiencing as much about forestry and forest health for a career change continues to inspire to all of us.

MS Student

Grace Graham

Grace is studying resin production in eastern larch, which grows from here all the way to the state of Alaska that she calls home. Grace has certainly lived in some interesting places, such as on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea and at the McMurdo research station in Antarctica. Grace spent six years working as a science educator at The Anchorage Museum prior to joining our team. Her work is co-advised by Prof. Marcella Windmuller-Campione.  

PhD Student

Sayesha Khanna

Sayesha joined us Fall 2023 after completing her Masters as India's representative to the Erasmus Mundus joint MS program in Plant Health sponsored by the European Union. She gained a strong background in Integrated Pest Management from studies in Spain, Italy, France, and the Netherlands and was elected valedictorian of her graduate cohort. She is working on adapting management of spongy moth with Btk to Minnesota's climate.

Master's Student

Ella Maddi

Ella comes to Minnesota from the great pine state of Maine where she attended Colby College for undergrad and spent the past few years working in quality control at breweries. She is excited to be a part of the Aukema lab and will be investigating the endemic niche of mountain pine beetles. Outside of playing with bugs, Ella enjoys frolicking through the woods with her dog and eating her way through the wonderful Twin Cities food scene.

Research Technician

Ian Grossenbacher-Mcglamery

Ian graduated last year from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor's in Biology and is entering his third year of work with us. Ian's experience across a variety of projects continues to be invaluable to the team. He is an avid runner and skier and has a strong beard game.

Research Technician

Clarissa Moore

After an undergraduate degree at Wellesley College in Boston that included semesters in the Caribbean and South Africa, Clarissa returned home to MN. She is leading the project studying the cold tolerance of the elongate hemlock scale. Clarissa enjoys road trips and outdoor adventures, where she often pauses to identify plants that no one asked about.

Research Technician

Emma Hans

Stay tuned! More details to be unveiled very soon.

Undergraduate Summer Research Assistant

Nadia Phillips

Going into her senior year in Plant Science, Nadia joined the team to gain research experience in forest entomology this summer. Nadia hails from the North Shore, so is happy to work with us on issues affecting her home forests. We appreciate Nadia's skills in plant identification. There's not much she doesn't know about plants, and if she's making it up, we're believing her.

Undergraduate Summer Research Assistant

Jo Evans

Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, Jo is in their senior year as a plant science major at the University of Minnesota. Interested in a career that involves the outdoors, Jo has moonlighted as a gardener at the UMN landscape arboretum, and as a research assistant in a plant pathology lab. Now, they hope to assist in clarifying pest-host-pathogen interactions on a number of projects led by their graduate student coworkers. Outside of entomology, Jo is passionate about music and plays the cello, guitar, and piano.

Undergraduate Summer Research Assistant

Ella Hanhan

Check back for Ella's picture and bio soon.

Voice of Wisdom / Best Lab Assistant Ever

Val Cervenka

Val retired from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 2023 and decided to... come volunteer with us for a few hours every week!? How did we get so lucky! She helps process field samples, provides artistic advice, proofreads paragraphs, dispenses career guidance, identifies insects, embellishes stories, and much, much more.

Recent Visitors

Visiting Scientist

Etsuro Takagi

An old familiar friend, Etsuro, was back with us this winter! Etsuro is an Assistant Professor at Tokyo Metropolitan State University where he works on the selection of oviposition sites by seed-feeding insects and speciation by host shifting. Brian and Etsuro enjoyed talking baseball, too.

Scientist in Training


Etsuro's daughter accompanied dad on this sabbatical trip, and she brought a special type of Japanese candy to share with us! She was an expert in teaching us how to mix, mix, mix the packages; add water; stir, stir, stir, eat! We are not so good at reading the Japanese, but she helped. And laughed with us when we make mistakes!


Graduate Students