Past Degree: 2016, B.S., Entomology, Cornell University
Current Degree Program: PhD student, Plant Pathology, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University
Research Focus: The Heck Lab studies a plant disease called Huanglongbing (HLB), possibly the most serious disease of citrus trees. It is currently incurable and has devastated the Florida citrus industry and is now threatening California. I study the insect vector, Diaphorina citri (Asian citrus psyllid), and how it interacts with the phloem-limited, non-culturable, bacterial pathogen "Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus" (CLas). One of the most promising ways to control HLB is by disrupting the vector's ability to acquire and transmit CLas to new, healthy plants. I am using bioinformatic methods to study transcriptomics and genomics of D. citri - CLas interactions. I aim to identify key molecular mechanisms or genomic regions associated with successful CLas transmission which can be used as disease interdiction molecules in various downstream applications.