Past Cornell students

Current Lab Past Groups Past Students University Of South Carolina

Post Docs

Derek Artz (2005-8): Derek came to us fresh from his PhD at the University of Miami. He coordinated three heroic field seasons in Moab, UT and Jackson, WY studying the pollinators and enemies of the tufted evening primrose, Oenothera cespitosa, and bridged our move from USC to Cornell. Derek later worked with Brian Nault on pumpkin pollination in NY state and currently coordinates field studies of commercial almond pollination at the USDA Bee Lab in Logan, UT, using Osmia bees as managed pollinators.

Cristian Villagra (2006-8): Cristian joined us after completing his PhD on tritrophic interactions involving aphids and their parasitic wasps at the Universidad de Chile. Cristian contributed behavioral analytical expertise to our long term study of Oenothera cespitosa, especially identifying Mompha moths as key selective agents potentially driving floral polymorphism. Cristian mentored a student project by Jessica Walden on the production of flower bud galls by Mompha caterpillars. Cristian transferred his training in this system to a postdoctoral project in Chile with the endemic and highly plastic Oenothera acaulis, working with Mary Kalin de Arroyo. He is currently an assistant professor at the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educacion, Chile

Rainee Kaczorowski (2007-9): Rainee joined us after completing her doctoral studies at the University of Missouri. At Cornell, she measured the innate and learned foraging behavior of Manduca sexta hawkoths to an entire clade of Nicotiana (sect. Alatae) tobacco species, exploring the causes of ethological isolation, and mentored a student project by Alison Seliger on one aspect of this topic. During summers, she worked in collaboration with Candace Galen in a manipulative study of the fitness consequences of nectar scent variation in a classic model system, the alpine sky pilot (Polemonium viscosum). Since leaving Cornell, she has studied multi-modal flower learning by bumblebees with Dan Papaj and Anna Dornhaus at U. of Arizona, and sunbird responses to toxic nectar in Nicotiana glauca with Shai Markman at the Univ. of Haifa, Israel.

Anne Gaskett (2008-9): Anne came to Cornell after finishing her doctoral thesis on sexually deceptive orchidsat Macquairie University, Australia. Anne managed an Intensive schedule of field research on the wine-red guild of flowering plants native to southeastern North America (trilliums, pawpaws, star anise), addressing hypotheses on floral mimicry and defense. Anne also trained with Paul Marino at Memorial University, Newfoundland, in a study of dung and carrion mimicry by mosses in the Splachnaceae. Anne left Cornell to take a faculty position at Aukland University, New Zealand.

Martin von Arx (2009-11): Martin came to us from the PhD program at the Universite de Neuchatel. Martin established a new laboratory colony of the white lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata), with which he studied how moths respond to relative humidity gradients produced by newly opening Oenothera flowers. He also mentored two student projects, one by Cornell undergraduate Kayleigh Sullivan on the fitness benefits of nectar meals to Hyles females, the other by Marine Levy, an exchange student from the Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, on the use of UV contrast in flowers by probing hawkmoths. Martin has continued his work on Relative humidity and hawkmoth performance with Goggy Davidowitz at the univ. of Arizona.

Mascha Bischoff (2011-12): Mascha joined us after postdoctoral studies with Diane Campbell at UC Irvine on floral scent in the Ipomopsis aggregata x tenuituba hybrid zone, at the Rocky Mt. Biological Lab in Colorado. Mascha's field work focused on the experimental manipulation of floral volatiles (pinenes and indole) to determine their effects on fitness through floral visitation by the pollinator (Hyles lineata) and seed predator (Hylemya flies). In Ithaca, Mascha mentored a student project by Kristen Haynes measuring the innate and learned behavioral preferences of Hyles moths for both floral color and scent. She currently works as an environmental consultant in her native Germany.

Joaquin Goyret (2011-13): Joaquin returned to Cornell after two years postdoctoral study at Lund University, Sweden, to manage an NSF funded project on relative humidity that he conceived and co-wrote. He coordinated undergraduate projects by Noah Kaminsky and Brian Worthington to measure humidity gradients (and moth responses to them) in wind tunnels and greenhouses. He mentored two additional undergraduates, Curran Reddy and Michael Yuang, in studies of hawkmoth visual discrimination. Joaquin is now an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, Martin.

Graduate Students

Holly Summers (grad. May 2013): Holly joined the Raguso lab from the Plant Biology Graduate Field, after a rotation in spring 2008. Holly's thesis explored the mechanisms governing floral display in self- vs. mixed-mating populations of Oenothera flava plants. She used a common garden to score heritable differences in floral development, nectar tube length and visual display, scent production, and behavioral assays to measure the attractiveness of selfing vs. outcrossing morphs to hawkmoths as pollen vectors. A key aspect of her thesis was a collaborative residence at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, in the department of Jonathan Gershenzon. Since graduating, she has begun a postdoctoral fellowship studying the evolutionary genetics of herkogamy in Petunia flowers with Cris Kuhlemeier at the Univ. of Bern, Switzerland.


L to R: Holly measuring floral volatiles wth the zNose in Jackson Hole, WY, with Jay Emerick (2008), with members of her PhD Committee (Anurag Agrawal, Andre Kessler, Jocelyn Rose)

Joaquin Goyret (grad. May 2009): Joaquin moved with the Raguso lab from the Univ. of South Carolina to complete his PhD in the Dept. of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell. His thesis explored the inputs of no less than 4 sensory channels (vision, olfaction, touch and CO2 perception) in guiding complex nectar foraging behavior by hawkmoths. Joaquin's special talent for experimental design allowed him and his students to dissect the relative contributions of different stimuli to feeding behavior. His successful student exchange experience at Lund University opened the door to a two year postdoc with Almut Kelber, during which Joaquin explored color vision in several species of moths. He returned to Cornell in 2011 to manage an NSF funded project on relative humidity that he conceived and designed. He has since moved on to a tenure track professorship at the Univ. of Tennessee, Martin.


L to R: Joaquin participating in the Sensory Ecology course at Lund University, Sweden (Oct. 2004), Nurturning a greenhouse full of doomed tobacco plants for an experiment on visual pigment (summer 2006) and shown with his doctoral thesis committee, Tom Seeley, Tom Eisner and Andre Kessler (May 2009).

Undergraduate Students

Noah Kaminsky , Class of 2013: Noah spent two years in our lab as the beneficiary of a funded NSF project, whose primary "broader impact" was to cross-train a student of earth sciences and geo-chemistry in autecology and animal behavior. He initially apprenticed with Stephanie Topp, our lab manager in moth care and choice behavior, then helped to design an honors project involving relative humidity gradients in a greenhouse, testing the behavioral responses of Manduca sexta moths. He is shown here presenting his poster at CURB. Noah developed his love of science education as an annual participant in the Insectapalooza outreach event at Cornell, and since graduation has begun a Master of Arts in Teaching program at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Kristen Haynes, Class of 2013: Kristen's honors project involved measuring the innate and learned floral preferences of Hyles hawkmoths for red vs. white, scented vs. unscented flowers of Ipomopsis. Kristen worked closely with Mascha Bischoff, who had studied similar questions in the plants' native Range in western Colorado. She presented her work as a poster at CURB before graduating in May 2013, and will be a coauthor on the publication to follow. Kristen has begun her PhD studies at SUNY-ESF, in Syracuse, NY.

Sally Hartwick, Graduated Dec. 2012: Sally performed several research projects in our lab over two years, measuring the effectiveness of an automated plant volatile collection device and assisting Holly Summers in measuring allometric bud growth in selfing vs. outcrossing populations of Oenothera flava. Sally's senior honors project was to measure scaling differences between flower size and the emission of CO2 by opening flower buds in these same populations, using a Licor IR detector. Sally also worked with Bryan Danforth's apple pollination team at the Cornell Orchards, and is currently applying to medical schools.

Rebecca Earl, Class of 2012: Rebecca first worked with us as a volunteer caterpillar keeper, but later developed a project as part of a Hatch Grant shared with Drs. Michael Hoffmann and Jeffry Gardener in Cornell's Dept. of Entomology. The project explored how tiny egg parasitic wasps (Trichogramma) respond to differences in relative humidity. Since graduation, Rebecca has worked as a wildlife monitor on Alcatraz Island and is applying to graduate schools.

Govind Krishnan, Class of 2011: Govind did an honors thesis working with Holly Summers on pollen tube competition, using Oenothera flava as a model system and working on our new fluorescence microscope. Govind presented his work at CURB and graduated from Cornell in only 3 years! He is now a medical student at the Univ. of Texas, Southwestern Medical School.

Kayleigh Sullivan, Class of 2011: Kayleigh joined the lab as a work-study student (and varsity polo player!) and developed an honors thesis on the fitness benefits of nectar meals to Hyles lineata hawkmoths, working with Martin von Arx. She discovered that nectar meals allow female Hyles moths to live significantly longer and lay many more eggs after a single mating. Kayleigh presented her findings at CURB and has published them in the Journal of Insect Physiology. Kayleigh continues to play polo, and is now a student at Boston University School of Medicine.

Rong Ma , Class of 2010: Rong came to our lab after hearing a lecture on chemical communication by honey bees in our BioNB2210 Animal Behavior course. Rong did an honors thesis on heritable differences in floral dimensions of Oenothera cespitosa between geographically isolated populations using a common garden experiment, which he presented at CURB (shown) and hopes to publish. Rong spent a year teaching chemistry at Cornell - Quatar (and won a poetry slam in Chicago!) before beginning his doctoral studies at the University of Texas, Austin.

Jessica Walden, Class of 2009: Jessica joined the Raguso lab after working as a field assistant with Charlie Walcott in Wisconsin, studying loon vocalizations. Jess began by surveying floral scent composition in local populations of skunk cabbage, then developed a Howard Hughes Cornell "Design your own Internship" project investigating the fitness effects of floral parasitism by Mompha moths on Oenothera cespitosa plants, at our Grand Teton field site in WY, with the guidance of Cristian VIllagra. Jess presented her work at CURB and the Howard Hughes mini-symposium, then graduated and worked for two years as a lab manager at Tufts University. She is currently a masters student in science education at NC State University.

Alison Seliger, Class of 2009: Alison joined the lab after taking BioNB/EE/Ent 3690, our class in Chemical Ecology. Her initial project was to survey floral emissions of CO2 from plants related to Oenothera flava, using a Licor IR detector. Her senior honors project was mentored by Rainee Kaczorowski, and centered on quantifying differences in floral contour between species of wild tobacco (Nicotiana) pollinated by hummingbirds vs. hawkmoths. Alison created artificial flowers modeling these differences and tested the innate preferences of Manduca moths for different models. Alison presented her research at CURB and published it in Functional Ecology since her graduation. She has just completed her education at Harvard Dental School.