Agroecology and Plant Interactions

Banner image - collage of insects clinging to plant stems

The fundamental interactions between plants and the organisms that they interact with as well as the application of chemical ecology to solve problems in agriculture. By better understanding the evolution and interactions between plants, insects, microorganisms and the metabolites that connect them, we find potential sustainable strategies for pest management and agricultural practices.


  • Plant-Herbivore interactions
  • Insect Agroecology
  • Insect Ecology
  • Predator-Prey Interactions
  • Mating Disruption
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Evolution of Chemical Defenses

Flor Acevedo

Assistant professor of Entomology (Penn State Behrend)

Jared Ali

Acting Chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology; Director of the Center for Chemical Ecology; Associate Professor of Entomology
Behavior and chemical ecology of multi-trophic interactions, including plant responses to below-ground herbivory and nematode. Insect community ecology, chemical ecology, and coevolution. Trophic cascades, above- and below-ground interactions,…

Tom Baker

Distinguished Professor of Entomology and Chemical Ecology

Dave Biddinger

Research Professor; Tree Fruit Research Entomologist

Surinder Chopra

Professor of Maize Genetics

Regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis during plant development and plant-pathogen interaction. Epigenetic regulation and allele specific patterns.

Francisco Dini-Andreote

Assistant Professor of Plant Science

Microbiome, plant-microbe interactions, and community ecology. Harnessing the plant microbiome to enhance protection against biotic and abiotic stresses.

Gary Felton

Professor and Department Head of Entomology

Plant-herbivore interactions. Adaptive responses of herbivores to plant defenses. Herbivore cues recognized by plants with specific focus on biochemical and molecular analysis of salivary secretions.

David Geiser

Professor of Mycology

Molecular evolutionary genetics of pathogenic and toxigenic fungi.

Christina Grozinger

Director of the Center for Pollinator Research; Director of the Insect Biodiversity Center; Publius Vergilius Maro Professor and Huck Scholar of Entomology

Genomics of social behavior and health in bees

Sara Hermann

Assistant Professor of Arthropod Ecology and Trophic Interactions

Kelli Hoover

Professor of Entomology

Invasive species of forest insects; plant-insect-entomopathogen interactions; impacts of plants on pathogenesis; biological control of hemlock woolly adelgid

Seogchan Kang

Professor of Plant Pathology & Environmental Microbiology

Genetic and cellular mechanisms underpinning plant-fungal interactions with Arabidopsis thaliana and Fusarium oxysporum as a model system. Molecular genetics and comparative genomics of fungal plant pathogens. Bioinformatics.

Jessica Kansman

Postdoctoral Scholar

Monica Kersch-Becker

Assistant Professor of Entomology

Greg Krawczyk

Extension Tree Fruit Entomologist, Research Professor

Gretchen Kuldau

Associate Professor of Plant Pathology

Erika Machtinger

Assistant Professor of Entomology

Veterinary entomology, including vector-borne diseases. Focus is on ecology and behavior associated with host-parasite interactions to improve or develop new control methods.

James Marden

Associate Director of Operations, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences; Professor of Biology

How physiological variation within species affects their ecology and evolution. Primarily with insects, but recently also with plants, and a particular interest in allelic variation in the pathogen resistance genes of tropical trees.

Harland Patch

Assistant Research Professor; Research Associate of Entomology

Tanya Renner

Assistant Professor of Entomology

Evolution of chemical and structural defense. Molecular evolution, evolutionary genomics, and transcriptomics. Origins and evolution of carnivorous plants.

Rudolf Schilder

Associate Professor of Entomology and Biology

Comparative & ecological physiology of insect and mammalian locomotion.

Ming Tien

Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Characterization and biochemical analysis of cellulose synthesis in a variety of organisms. Mechanism and regulation of fungal degradation of lignin. Dissimilatory Iron reduction.

Julie Urban

Associate Research Professor

Yinong Yang

Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Signal perception and transduction in rice-pathogen interactions. Molecular and genomic strategies for increasing disease resistance and drought tolerance in cereal crops.

Fang (Rose) Zhu

Assistant Professor of Entomology

Understanding the mechanisms and evolution of insects’ adaptation to chemical stresses in their environment.