Carmen Blubaugh (carmen.blubaugh at uga.edu)
Biological Sciences, 460
Assistant Professor, University of Georgia
PhD, Entomology, Purdue University (2015)
MS, Environmental Science, Indiana University (2010)
BA, Environmental Studies, Florida Atlantic University (2006)
Carmen grew up in rural Indiana, went to college in South Florida, then did a wild variety of temporary field gigs (organic farming, wildland firefighting, invasive species management, emergency response, and of course, insect ecology research) in Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Arkansas, Montana, and Prague, CZ, before finally starting graduate school. After a postdoc at Washington State University, she joined the faculty at Clemson University for two years before being recruited by UGA to lead our undergraduate Entomology program, develop impactful service-learning curriculum, and chase down interesting research questions related to insect food webs in sustainable agroecosystems.
Lab Manager/Undergraduate Program Assistant
Katherine finished an MS in Entomology from UGA in 2020, where she studied the adaptive value of sexual promiscuity in honeybees, and was a well-loved TA for two years for Insect Natural History (ENTO 3140). In our lab, she’s getting her feet wet in agroecology, planning a collaborative school garden research network, and keeping all our ducks in a row, all while cultivating engagement and professional development among UGA’s undergraduate Entomology majors.
Julia graduated from SUNY Binghamton in 2020 with a BS in Environmental Science and is interested in how fertility resources and diet breadth mediate trophic interactions between plants, herbivores and predators.
Christiana Huss (MS Student)
Christiana finished her BS in Environment and Natural Resources at Clemson University in 2020. She moved with us to UGA after spending a summer working with our collaborators at Growing Green Family Farm, and started her MS in the lab in 2021! Christiana’s research focuses on the yellow-margined leaf beetle, an invasive pest of turnips that is rapidly expanding its range Northward. She is curious about what makes this invader so successful, how plant chemistry and plant diversity influence its suppression by predators.
Amy Sparer (MS Student)
Amy graduated from Dickinson College with a BS in Biology, and spent a year as an environmental educator with the Student Conservation Association before working on an organic farm through the pandemic! Amy is interested in how plant diversity and plant functional traits shape the structure of natural enemy communities. Amy is really really into cats.
Allison Stawara (MS Student)
Allison graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in Horticulture and spent four years managing MSU’s organic research farm at the Upper Peninsula Research and Education Center before joining us in 2021. Allison is interested in non-target effects of pesticide applications, and examines how living mulches might mitigate damage to natural enemies, stabilize pest control, and ultimately reduce reliance on pesticides in vegetable agroecosystems.
Melina joined us for an internship in 2018 as a high school senior through Clemson’s Summer Program for Research Interns. Melina is now an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina, and she’s back this summer for her FOURTH field season with us to sample bugs and weeds on organic farms all over GA, SC and NC. Melina examines relationships between weed diversity, predator diversity, and biological control of insect pests and weed seeds. She’s presented her work at three meetings, and her first paper came out in Environmental Entomology earlier this year!
Jon is an Entomology/Applied Biotechnology major at UGA and just won a CURO research assistantship to work with Christiana on using molecular tools to document predation of the invasive yellow-margined leaf beetle, and to examine how prey toxicity influences biological control.
Grace is a Biological Sciences major at UGA and received an undergraduate research grant from UGA’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and worked with Nick to examine how red-imported fire ant activity influences the abundance and diversity of pests and beneficial insects on organic farms.
Nick Lyon (PhD student: 2019-2021)
Nick came to us in August 2019 after finishing an MS at Iowa State University where he studied native bee community responses to prescribed fire and sustainable pasture management. Nick examined costs and benefits of weed diversity in agroecosystems, focusing on functional traits of non-crop plants that promote conservation biological control while protecting crop yields.
Mary-Frances Behnke (MFB)
Mary-Frances is a Plant and Environmental Sciences major at Clemson, and spent summer 2019 and 2020 measuring the pest management consequences of excess organic fertilizers. As our resident insect taxonomy expert, Mary-Frances completed insect surveys on thousands of squash, tomato, and bean plants. She’s analyzing her huge data set to examine relationships between soil fertility, plant chemistry, herbivore pressure, and natural enemy attraction.
Danielle Gray-Lewis (MS 2019)
Danielle is an MS student in the Blubaugh Lab (co-advised by Matt Cutulle and Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris), and came to us after completing her BS in Biology and Art at the College of Charleston. Danielle’s thesis grapples with the challenge of harmonizing mechanical, chemical, and ecological weed control tools in organic vegetable systems.
Ivy Widick (BS 2015, MS 2018, Lab manager, 2019)
Ivy is a wildlife ecologist who uses species distribution models informed by local adaptation and biotic interactions to forecast changes in distributions of endangered giant kangaroo rat populations under varying climate change scenarios. Ivy worked with us as an undergraduate at Purdue University to describe small mammal movement and microhabitat use under varying risk conditions. She joined us again three years later to help get the new lab rolling, and used video surveillance to examine antagonistic interactions between small mammals, invasive fire ants, and native insects. Ivy is now a landscape ecologist with the Wisconsin DNR
Andrew is a Plant and Environmental Sciences major at Clemson, and took Dr. Blubaugh’s IPM course in spring 2018, and was the first student to join the lab! Andrew’s joined us at UGA for a 3rd field season and will be measuring weed and pest management consequences of surplus organic fertilizers.
Annie is an Environmental and Natural Resources Management major, and joined us for a research internship this summer through Clemson’s EUREKA program, and examined effects of structural habitat complexity on seed consumption by small mammals, fire ants, and native insect granivores.
Although she’s very bad at following instructions, Rosie is an occasional field assistant and a placeholder for future amazing students! We’re currently recruiting students, so please check out my mentoring page if you’re interested in joining the lab.