Current Lab Members

Welcome to the Rogers Lab!

Mary Rogers ProfileDr. Mary Rogers

Office: 428 Alderman Hall
             1970 Folwell Ave
             St. Paul, MN 55108
Contact: (612) 624-8871, roge0168@umn.edu

Please visit Mary’s Horticultural Science faculty page for more information about her. 



Andrew Petran Profile PictureDr. Andrew Petran

Postdoctoral Associate

Office: 422 Alderman Hall
            1970 Folwell Ave
            St. Paul, MN 55108
Contactpetra057@umn.edu

Andy is a specialist in determining best practices for horticultural production. His MS research focused on interspecific grafting (tomato x eggplant) to measure flood and drought response in tomato production, while his PhD explored season extension strategies for organic strawberries in the Upper Midwest. He is currently collaborating on a multi-University project to investigate the invasive spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) on small fruits, hoping to establish effective organic controls. More information on Andy and his research can be found on his website.


Heidi AndersonHeidi Anderson

Graduate Research Assistant

Office: 305 Alderman Hall
             1970 Folwell Ave
             St. Paul, MN  55108
Contact: ande9063@umn.edu

Heidi spent most of her growing up years in Minnesota, where her early interests in wildlife and nature were nurtured by parents who encouraged her to explore the life sciences. A love of animals eventually led Heidi to pursue a degree in Animal Science at Cornell University, and in the process she developed a keen interest in agriculture. After graduating, she spent time interning on farms then joined the Peace Corps for two years as an environment volunteer in the West African nation of Benin. Shortly after returning from Africa, Heidi began an intensive year-long farming program at The Farm School in Massachusetts to build her skill set in the many aspects of animal husbandry and commercial organic fruit and vegetable production. Heidi aspires to always be working with and for farmers to promote resilient agricultural production systems, both locally and around the world.

Jared RubinsteinJared Rubinstein

Graduate Research Assistant

Office: 320 Alderman Hall
1970 Folwell Ave
St. Paul, MN  
Contact:  rubin097@umn.edu

Jared grew up in Seattle, WA, a great place to cultivate a love for the natural world, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Grinnell College in 2010. He has a broad interest in organic agriculture, especially in the development of improved propagation and cultivation techniques, as well as the dissemination of new discoveries to local farmers. Jared has worked in environmental education, organic agriculture, greenhouse production, and the Parks Department in Minneapolis.

Nathan HechtNathan Hecht

Graduate Research Assistant

Office: 266 Alderman Hall
1970 Folwell Ave
St. Paul, MN  
Contact:  hecht072@umn.edu

Nathan's love for the land was seeded in the bluffs and rivers of his hometown in La Crosse, WI.   After graduating from Luther College in Decorah, IA with a B.A. in Biology, he worked as a farm intern at a local organic market garden.  He spent the next 3 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Andes of Peru, working on agroforestry, trash management, environmental education, and biological water quality monitoring projects.  He is interested in locally-adapted efforts to add functional biodiversity back into our agroecosystems in ways that can improve both sustainability and productivity.  His specific interests include farming for beneficial insects, soil conservation, and organic fruit/vegetable production.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing folk music on the mandolin/guitar/cello, hiking, and plant propagating.

Naxo Profile PictureIgnasi “Naxo” Riera Vila

Graduate Research Assistant

Office:   320 Alderman Hall
             1970 Folwell Ave
             St. Paul, MN 55108

Originally from Lloret de Mar, Catalonia (Spain), Naxo always felt interested in agriculture and the way we produce food. Due to this interest he decided to focus his education and career in horticulture. He studied agricultural engineering at the University of Girona and after graduation he had some hands-on experiences in different horticultural farms back in Spain and here in Minnesota, which helped him to have a background in practical farming skills and issues. His main goal for the future is to work helping farmers in the development and adoption of more sustainable techniques and practices that could possibly help create a more sustainable production of quality vegetables and agricultural production as a whole.


MattMatthew Gullickson

Graduate Research Assistant

Matthew’s interest in nature and plants began as a child helping in his father’s garden. This lead him to working at the student-managed organic garden while pursuing a B.A. in biology from Gustavus Adolphus College. After graduating in 2016, he worked for The Nature Conservancy, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, and the University of Minnesota as a field technician specializing in plant identification and prairie ecology. He is interested in the ecology of managed environments, horticulture, organic fruit and vegetable production, and plant systematics.  


Samantha VillellaSamantha Villella

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Samantha is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing her studies in plant science. She grew up in the beautiful Twin Cities gardening in her backyard and kayaking in some of the many lakes of Minnesota. Her aspirations include gaining as much experience as possible in the world of horticultural botany, studying abroad, and visiting every zoo in the country.





 

Melissa Trent pic

Melissa Trent

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Melissa grew up in both rural and urban areas of Minnesota. Upon leaving the city, and moving to a small hobby farm, Melissa discovered the exciting world of fresh fruits and vegetables, and developed an appreciation for her natural surroundings. After high school Melissa worked at a variety of local restaurants, trying to figure out where she fit into the food system, while attending Minneapolis Community and Technical College. At MCTC she studied Biology and volunteered at the school’s urban farm. Interested in Biology and Nutrition, and wanting to make a greater impact on our local food system, she transferred to the University of Minnesota to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in the Organic and Local Food Production track of Food Systems. Melissa spent last summer teaching a Children’s Garden Curriculum in the Twin Cities, and interning at Frogtown Farm. She is interested in strengthening our local food system by educating children about nutrition and gardening, getting involved in local policy, sustainably intensifying urban agriculture, and strengthening the relationships between urban farmers and community members. Melissa will be conducting an undergraduate research project (UROP) in the summer of 2017 titled "Evaluating Pollinator Abudance and Diversity in Response to Floral Resources in an Urban Landscape".

Nina


Nina Wagner

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nina is a freshman at Stanford University planning to study biology. Prior to Stanford, she grew up near the Twin Cities and attended Minnetonka High School. When she’s home, she loves spending time out on the beautiful Minnesota lakes and exploring new restaurants throughout the Twin Cities. She hopes to be able to explore several areas of biology through her studies as well as hands on experience and wishes to someday study abroad and travel as much as possible.

Truong

“Truong” Nguyen Viet

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am a 26-year-old person who always willing to learn new skills and knowledge, and who never afraid to work hard. I was born in Nghe A province, in the middle part of Viet Nam. Hungry soil and harsh climate contribute to forming the way people in my hometown, live; we must either work hard or study hard. I participated in scientific researches as a Research Assistant before I carried out a student project about nitrogen fixing bacteria from mangrove soil.

After graduating from Hue University in 2013, majored in Biotechnology, I worked at Tay Nguyen Institute for Scientific Research, Viet Nam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), as a Researcher in the Department of Microbiology. I found myself interested in organic agricultural production, and I believe that organic practice is the sustainable way of farming, which helps to promote the health of ecology system, the health of soil, and the health of human. I worked as a technician for an agricultural company which produce hydroponics vegetables. I also worked as a farm intern for an organic farm in Hastings, MN before attending a Spring semester at the University of Minnesota.

I think that while an experience may difficult to deal with, you can always get something from it. My goal in the future is to become a consultant to help farmers to get involved in sustainable agriculture, especially in organic practice.

Former Members

Aimee Talbot Profile PictureAimee Foster, MS

Graduate Research Assistant

Office: 358 Alderman Hall
            1970 Folwell Ave
            St. Paul, MN 55108
Contactfoste306@umn.edu

Aimee grew up on a small hobby farm in northern Minnesota, near Duluth, which cultivated her fascination with the natural world, yet she was also strongly drawn to the humanities through the many books that she devoured as a child. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in French at the University of Minnesota, Duluth in 2012. Her love of diversity, learning, and the natural world has steered her interdisciplinary education, for she has now started working on an M.S. in Applied Plant Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Aimee’s research project evaluates integrated pest management (IPM) strategies in which to control insect pests in the organic production of vegetables in the Brassicaceae (mustard) family. She believes in restoring, sustaining, and promoting the biodiversity of sustainable agroecosystems as well as evaluating the efficiency and environmental benefits of organic and small-scale farming. Aimee loves camping, reading, hunting, running, and yoga.

Anita Bio PicAnita Gorder

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Anita grew up in the Pacific Northwest with dogwoods, rhododendrons and peonies blooming outside every window.  After high school, she moved to Alaska where wild roses and blueberries are abundant, which broadened her curiosity about the natural world, both wild and cultivated.  She received a BA in Art from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is currently studying plant propagation and helping out in the Rogers Lab.

 

 

Hannah Bio PicHannah Hauan

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Hannah is a senior studying Plant Science with a focus on plant production. She grew up in Minnesota, about 30 minutes SW of the twin cities. As a child she loved gardening and outdoor activities of any kind. Currently, she is conducting a UROP comparing synthetic and organic fertilization with insect herbivory of cabbage worms (Pieris rapae) on broccoli (Brassica oleracea). She has a large interest in organic production, which is why she wanted to work under Dr. Rogers. Eventually, she hopes to spend some time working on an organic farm abroad or assisting with a CSA.  

Lauren Schmitt ProfileLauren Schmitt

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lauren worked in the Rogers lab during the summer of 2014. She primarily helped with the blueberry/spotted wing drosophila project and with grad student Aimee Talbot’s integrated pest management research. Lauren graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May of 2014 with a degree in Environmental Sciences and a second major in Anthropology. At Notre Dame, she was involved in a variety of research endeavors, including working in an evolutionary biology lab and doing research in sustainable agriculture in southern Uganda. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Applied Environmental Science at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland.

Aiden Shaughnessy ProfileAidan Shaughnessy

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Aidan comes to our lab as a research assistant and intern. As a undergrad student wrapping up a degree in Horticulture, Aidan is passionate about exploring the realm between ecological restoration and sustainable agriculture. His current work in our lab is rearing a colony of imported cabbageworms (Pieris rapae), a common Brassica pest, for an induced herbivory experiment in the greenhouse and for a genetic study on the parasitoid wasps, Cotesia glamarata and C. rubeckula, with the Entomology department. In a previous experiment, he assisted in the field monitoring of insect populations on broccoli that was inter-cropped with buckwheat, tillage radish, and sorgum x sudan grass. Aidan has had the opportunity to explore and work on ecologically sustainable farms in Mexico, Belize, Ecuador, and Guatemala, all of which were highly diversified and integrated agricultural systems. He has also worked on sustainable farms in the Midwest, including the Blackcat Farmstead and Dream of Wild Health.

Aaryn Wilson ProfileAaryn Wilson

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Aaryn joined our lab as a participant in the Multicultural Summer Research Opportunity Program (MSROP) for 10 weeks in the summer of 2014. His summer research project evaluated fitness of two herbivores, imported cabbageworm larvae (Pieris rapae) and flea beetles (Phyllotreta cruciferae), after induced herbivory on several species of vegetables in the Brassicaceae family. Aaryn is currently a junior, majoring in Food Systems at the University of Minnesota.

 

Connor MikreConnor Mikre

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Connor is a junior pursuing a Sustainable Systems Management degree with an emphasis in energy systems. While the study of energy systems and organic horticulture would conventionally be thought of as two distinct fields, Connor views them as fundamental extensions of one another, each with its own application as it relates to responsible stewardship of the planet. He was very happy to be able to broaden his experience in Rogers lab in spring 2016 with a UROP evaluating the role of mycorrhizal fungi in reducing the effects of drought stress in tomato transplants. He is currently working in the lab assisting on research projects.

Join Our Lab

We welcome individuals who are interested in pursuing positions as M.S. or Ph.D. graduate students as well as post-doctoral fellow positions, junior scientists, and undergraduate research assistants, or through the undergraduate research opportunities program (UROP). We highly recommend contacting Dr. Rogers to discuss current opportunities available, and we invite you to join events and seminars offered through the Department of Horticultural Science. We also encourage growers who are interested in collaborative projects to contact Mary Rogers.

Graduate Students

Acceptance to our lab as a graduate student is dependent upon available funds, and we require graduate students to have a source of funding, either through external funds or through a research assistant (RA) position with our lab. Interested individuals must apply to the Applied Plant Sciences (APS) graduate program through the University of Minnesota Graduate School. Information about the APS program, prerequisites, and application can be found on the APS website.

Undergraduate Students:

We are currently hiring several undergraduate student employees for summer research work.  Please click here for more information.