Welcome to the New Professionals at SBE

This semester we are privileged to welcome several new professionals that have joined us at SBE.

Elissa Ballman—Entomology

Elissa Ballman received her Master of Science in entomology from the University of California-Riverside. Before working here, she was living in the Midwest and working for North Dakota State University studying parasitoids of soybean aphids. Now, she works for Eleanor Groden and is studying the management of European fire ants. European fire ants are an invasive species in Maine with large populations in Acadia National Park where she is focusing control efforts.

Christine Lamana—Global Change

Christine Lamana received her Ph.D in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from University of Arizona, with an interdisciplinary minor in Global Change. She did her research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, in Crested Butte, Colorado studying the effects of climate change on the structure and function of subalpine plant communities. Now, she is affiliated with the Sustainability Solutions Initiative, working to determine what species, plants and animals, of ecological, economic and cultural concern in the state of Maine are at risk from climate change. She is examining what changes people have noticed and what they are concerned about for the future.

Alison Dibble—Insect Ecology

Alison Dibble runs a consulting firm called Stewards LLC, whose purpose is to conduct natural resource inventory on conservation lands. In junction with the US Forest Service, she researches how lichens, mosses and liverworts can improve air quality, with most of her research on Mount Katahdin above Chimney Pond. Dibble, along with SBE professor Frank Drummond, are principal investigators in the Pollination Security project, funded by the USDA, whose work focuses on sustainability of native bees, their habitats, and their role in pollination of the lowbush blueberry crop in Maine. She also acts as a liaison with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maine, and prepares Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plans for farmers in Maine.

Rabern Simmons—Bioscience

Rabern Simmons has been at the University of Maine since 2005, working with Dr. Longcore to obtain a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. In obtaining his degree, he researched aquatic fungi in the phylum Chytridiomycota, and learned how to identify, isolate, and characterize these chytrids using dissecting and compound microscopes, transmission electron microscopy, and genomic DNA sequences. Now as a postdoctoral research associate, he is using his experience with molecular phylogenetics and fungal taxonomy to assist Dr. Eleanor Groden with the description of a new fungal species infecting European fire ants, which are invasive to Maine.

Aaron Buzza—Entomology

Aaron Buzza has been an Agricultural Science teacher in the Presque Isle area for the past 18 years. For 12 of those years he was responsible for the Educational farm, a 38-acre farm growing apples, strawberries, blueberries, and market garden vegetables. While overseeing the Educational farm, an apple cider processing facility, and honeybee hives, Buzza was responsible for 85 students and 6 adults. He is now working for Dr. Alyohkin, conducting insecticide trials on potatoes at the Aroostook Research farm in Presque Isle. He is currently rearing three different types of aphids in the lab and in the greenhouse, to further research their contribution to potato disease.