Anjel Helms

Anjel Helms
Assistant Professor of Chemical Ecology
Department of Entomology
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program
Texas A&M University

Graduate Students

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Natalie Aguirre
Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Natalie graduated with a B.S. in biology from Pepperdine University. During this time, she completed an honor’s thesis conducting research on the interaction of drought stress and pathogen infection in a chaparral shrub species, Malosma laurina. She then spent a year as a Fulbright scholar at the Universidad Politecnica in Madrid, Spain, where she studied effect of water stress on Dutch Elm Disease. Most recently, Natalie worked for the Everglades Foundation in Miami, Florida, creating educational programs and materials about the Florida everglades.

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Morgan Thompson
Ph.D. student in Entomology
Morgan graduated with a B.S. in biology from The College of William and Mary in 2016. It was there that she developed a love for insects and scientific research. She then headed to the University of Maryland and graduated in the spring of 2019 with a Master’s of Science in entomology. Morgan’s research interests include plant-insect interactions, agroeclogy, and insect community ecology, and she is excited to learn more about chemical ecology and multi-trophic interactions in the Helms Lab. Outside of lab life, Morgan enjoys spending time with friends and family, teaching group fitness classes, and being outdoors and hiking. Please check out her website or Twitter to learn more.

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John Grunseich
Ph.D. student in Entomology
John graduated from Texas A&M University in fall 2018 with bachelor’s degrees in Soil and Crop Science and Entomology. He is originally from Bellevue, Texas and is interested in plant-insect interactions and their implications in ecology and integrated pest management. After completing his master’s degree in Spring 2021, he has begun his Ph.D. in entomology (co-advised by Julio Bernal) researching plant responses of root-feeding herbivores in corn. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Adriane Fifield
My name is Adriane Fifield and I graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Microbiology in 2021. During undergrad I researched the behavioral ecology of the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) at the USDA in Manhattan, Kansas which sparked my interest in chemical ecology. I’m excited to follow this interest to the Helm’s lab where I will be co-advised by Dr. Suh and begin research on plant-nematode interactions in a cotton agroecosystem.

Undergraduate Students

Laura Marmolejo
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 22′
Howdy! My name is Laura Marmolejo and I am a fourth-year entomology major at Texas A&M University in College Station. I have been working under Dr. Anjel Helms as an undergraduate research assistant since early 2019. Aside from my daily tasks, I have conducted research on the striped cucumber beetles’ attraction to cucurbit VOCs. My most recent research has focused on determining plant priming through multiple cucurbit pests on the zucchini squash. I am currently wrapping up experiments and data analysis in order to publish my findings this summer. I also hope to begin finding graduate programs for my Masters by establishing connections in the entomological world! Follow her on Twitter.

Aggie Research Program Team

Jayda Arriaga
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 22′
Howdy! My name is Jayda Arriaga and I am a fourth-year Biomedical Sciences major at Texas A&M University in College Station. I have been working under Dr. Anjel Helms as an undergraduate research assistant under Graduate Researcher Morgan Thompson since August of 2021 as part of our entomology lab’s ARP undergraduate research team. Our most recent research has focused on determining whether belowground herbivory modifies aboveground plant defenses in neighboring plants using striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum), squash bugs (Anasa tristis), and zucchini squash plants (Cucurbita pepo). We’ve been discussing possibilities for future experiments, and I’m excited to see what all we can discover as a team.

Rachel Kurian
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 25′
Howdy! I’m Rachel Kurian, a freshman engineering major at Texas A&M University. I’m currently a member of the Aggie Research Scholars Program (ARP) under (soon to be Doctor!) Morgan Thompson in Dr. Helms’ lab. Our ARP team has conducted experiments on the impact of belowground herbivory on aboveground herbivory and VOC emission throughout the past school year, and I’m looking forward to continuing this research and branching out to other topics in the Helms lab next semester!

Gage Strozier
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 25’
Howdy! My name is Gage Strozier and I am a Horticultural Sciences major from Floresville, Texas. I work in Helm’s lab through the Aggie Research Program under Morgan Thompson where we have been analyzing VOC and Phytohormone production caused by below-ground herbivory. I hope to pursue further research in Astrobotany in hopes of sustaining life beyond Earth!

Jack Bradford
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 25’
Howdy! My name is Jack Bradford and I’m a sophomore electrical engineering student at Texas A&M University. I’ve been a part of the Aggie Research Program team at Helms labs since fall of 2021. I work with other undergraduate researchers on a shared project led by Morgan Thompson. Our research focuses on plant defenses induced by above and belowground herbivory. I will continue working at Helms over summer of 2022!

Lab Alumni

Danelle Merrell
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 21′
Horticulture and Entomology 

Emma Manuel (now M.S. student at Oregon)
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 21′
Entomology

Andreísa Fabri Lima
Ph.D. student Entomology (graduated fall 2021)
Universidade Federal de Lavras

Allison Hay
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 21′
Bioenvironmental Science and Wildlife and Fisheries

Tammy Starr (now M.S. student at Purdue)
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 19′
Forensic and Investigative Sciences and Entomology

Caroline Burks
Undergraduate Researcher
Texas A&M University 19′
Bioenvironmental Science

William Grisales
Undergraduate Researcher in Ali Lab
Penn State Chemical Engineering

Maggie Kuzemchak
Undergraduate Researcher in Ali Lab
Penn State Earth Science and Chemistry

Nina Matulis
Undergraduate Researcher in Ali Lab
Penn State Forensic Science