Past Graduate and Post-Graduate Students

  • James Stewart joined the lab in the Fall of 2018 where he pursued an MS degree in Vector-borne Disease Biology.  He completed his Bachelor’s at SUNY Plattsburgh in Spring 2018, with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry, Ecology, and Biological Anthropology.  During this time he worked as technician at the Lake Champlain Research Institute where he was involved in various long-term ecological monitoring projects, and was also responsible for mosquito trapping and identification for the Clinton County Health Department.  A lifelong interest in infectious diseases combined with his experiences in Plattsburgh sparked a passion for vector biology. James interests included mosquito ecology, behavior, and spatial modeling of vector habitats and associated infection dynamics.
  • Ethan Degner joined the lab in the fall of 2013. He hails from south-central Minnesota, and he earned his B.A. in Biology from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. He After graduating, he spent 3 months in Panama investigating leafcutter ant foraging behavior. During this time he became excited about entomology. He also became aware of many insect-borne diseases and parasites. He chose to study medical entomology in the hopes of conducting research that will improve human health. Ethan started as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Wisconsin Lutheran College in July 2019.
  • Yassi Hafezi joined the lab in April 2016. She investigated the reproductive fitness of insects that are genetically engineered for pest management. She earned her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from U.C. Berkeley in 2011. Her past research was on mechanisms that regulate tissue and cellular growth and cell competition in the Drosophila ovary and larval imaginal discs. Yassi recently joined the Clark lab working on Drosophila full time.
  • Susan Villarreal joined the lab in July, 2013. She earned her PhD at Cornell in Entomology. Susan is interested in insect mating behavior, specifically in how males and females find and chose a mate, as well as the consequences of those decisions once they’ve parted. Her work in the lab focus will on identifying various male seminal fluid proteins and how those proteins affect female post-mating behavior. In her free time Susan enjoys screen-printing t-shirts and participating in various outreach endeavors. Susan is now on the faculty at Grinnell College, IA.
  • Phanidar Kukutla joined the lab in March 2015.  Phani is interested in pursuing research that addresses questions related to biology/physiology of disease vectors, host-microbe-pathogen interactions, molecular genetics of host-associated bacteria, and engineering microbes to devise resistance against diseases or for pharmaceutical applications.  Phani now conducts research at Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Catalina Alfonso earned her PhD from Texas A&M and joined the lab in June 2012. Catalina’s main research in the lab was  to decipher the role of Aedes seminal fluid proteins (SFPs) and the processes they affect in females after copulation. Catalina accepted a position at Instituto Colombiano de Medicina Tropical, Universidad CES.
  • Nick Ledesma earned his PhD as part of the dual degree (DVM/PhD) program in 2014. Nick earned his B.S. at Cornell in Animal Science and Entomology, and was introduced to the subjects of public health and vector-borne disease after taking Medical and Veterinary Entomology, taught by Dr. Harrington. He is interested in the epidemiology and disease ecology of vector-borne zoonoses, especially those involving wildlife and livestock. He  investigated mosquito vectors of dog heartworm in the United States. Nick is now a Veterinary Medical Officer in the Serology Section at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Ames IA.
  • Prasit Deewatthanawong joined the lab as a graduate student and completed his MS degree in 2013. He is originally from Bangkok, Thailand where he completed a BSc. in Entomology and MSc. in Biotechnology. He is interested in applying molecular techniques to advance our understanding of the mating biology and reproductive success of the mosquito vector Aedes aegypti. Prasit’s research focused on mosquito mating behavior including the frequency of multiple mating. He was also involved in a project on male accessory gland proteins (Acps) of dengue vectors.  Prasit returned to Thailand after several months of travel in the USA.
  • Michelle Helinski joined the Harrington lab in 2008 as a postdoc and then a Research Associate. She performed her graduate work at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, where she studied the effects of radiation on male biology and mating competitiveness in the African malaria mosquito Anopheles arabiensis. This thesis was defended at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, where she is from. At Cornell she studied the fitness of genetically modified vectors of Dengue and mating strategies, both in the laboratory and in the field. In 2012, Michelle accepted a position with the Malaria Consortium working in Uganda.  Today, Michelle is a Project Officer at The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), The Hague.
  • Lauren Cator completed her PhD in the Harrington Lab in 2011. Lauren is interested in mating biology and its possible applications in disease control. She is interested in characterizing the roles of female choice and competition in the mating systems of medically important mosquitoes. Her dissertation work focused on flight tone and its role in mating behavior (for more click here). Lauren is originally from Virginia, but received a B.A. in Biology from The Colorado College in Colorado Springs. As an undergraduate she conducted research on the host seeking behaviors of tsetse flies in Taragire National Park, Tanzania. She has returned to Tanzania fall semester 2008 to conduct research in the Kilombero Valley. (She now has much bigger net than the one pictured on the left). Lauren is currently on the faculty at Imperial College, where she continues to investigate mosquito biology and behavior.
  • Diego H. Ruiz-Moreno joined the Harrington lab as a postdoc in July 2009 as part of the project “Forecasting Disease and Economic Consequences of Climate Change”, an Academic Venture Fund Research Project funded by Cornell Center for Sustainable Future. Diego, a computer scientist from Argentina, obtained his Ph.D. from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at the University of Michigan, USA, where he studied spatial and temporal patterns of infectious diseases. His dissertation focused on cholera dynamics including climate and socio-economic factors. Diego continues his modelling work including the spatial dynamics of dengue and Chikungunya virus in Argentina.  Diego now works as a Data Scientist at CASE on IT
    in Madrid, Spain.
  • Mari Kimura joined the Harrington lab in 2009 as a postdoc. She earned a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell in 2008. Her PhD research investigated the influence of mosquito vectors on the evolution and ecology of avian malaria parasites. She conducted mosquito-feeding trials to test hypotheses related to parasite-mosquito evolution. She also examined field data to explore patterns in the distribution of avian malaria lineages in their mosquito hosts. Her research combines her interests in disease ecology, birds, and phylogeography. Mari is now a Program Officer in the Healthcare Delivery and Disparities Research program at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Washington, DC.
  • Sander Koenraadt joined the Harrington lab as a postdoc in February 2006. After working for 2.5 years in the tropical heat of Thailand as a postdoc in the Scott lab (University of California, Davis), he quickly adjusted to the cold, severe winters of Ithaca, New York. His research interests include the ecology of dengue and malaria vectors, disease control and the impact of climate change on public health. Sander is currently a faculty member at the University of Waginingen . He maintains a personal website (in Dutch) with many pictures of his Thai and US adventures (
  • Wieteke Tuiten joined the lab in June 2006 as a research assistant. In 2001 she obtained her Masters degree at Wageningen University in The Netherlands in development economics. Before coming to the US, she lived in Thailand with her husband (Sander Koenraadt) for 2.5 years. There she did a study on what people know, think and do about dengue and the mosquitoes that transmit this disease. In Ithaca, she worked on a similar study concerning West Nile virus. Wieteke moved to Wageningen in March 2008 with her husband, Sander, and daughter, Veerle.
  • Hong-Fei Gong received a B.S. from Zhejing University,China, then he became a research assistant at Biotechnology Institute of the same university. He went to Instituto Superior Tecnico, Technical University of Lisbon as a RA and then started his PhD study at Computer Engineering Department of IST-UTL in 2001. He joined the lab in March 2006, where his research focused on WNV mosquito vector development. He collaborated with Dr. Art DeGeatano and Harrington on a an climate based population dynamic model. His research interests include simulation and modeling,computational biology, computational intelligence, artificial life, evolutionary algorithms, and bioInformatics. In March 2008, Hongfei accepted a position at Oxitec in the United Kingdom, where he is a Senior Mathematical Modeler.
  • Alongkot Ponlawat, or Boy as we know him, has just completed his M.S. under the guidance of Dr. Harrington in 2004 and his PhD in 2008. His research topics included blood feeding patterns and insecticide susceptibility of Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus in Thailand. His PhD research focused on mating biology and male reproductive success of Ae. aegypti. In February 2008, Boy accepted a position as Head of the Vector Biology section in the Department of Entomology, USAMC Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Thailand.
  • Jonathan Darbro earned his PhD in 2007 from the Harrington Lab. Jon was a member of the improv group “the Whistling Shrimp” at Cornell and is a board game designer – developing the game Chez Geek when he was at the University of Chicago.  Jon is now an Advanced Medical Entomologist at Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Brisbane, Australia. 
  • Becky Poulson was a technician in the Harrington Lab from April 2004 to December 2006. After graduating from Cornell University in 2001 with a B.S. in Biology, Becky worked for several years as a technician in the ecology department studying diatom assemblages in the sediments of embayments along the shores of Lake Ontario. Her main responsibilities in the Harrington lab were just about everything, from undergraduate research counseling and PCR data analysis, to running ELISAs and maintaining mosquito colonies. Becky is now a postdoc in the Department of Population Health at the University of Georgia.
  • Caitlin McKenna was a member of the Harrington Lab from June 2003 to November 2008. Caitlin graduated from Cornell University in 2006 with a B.S. in Biology and Society (with a Pre-Med focus) and a minor in Nutrition. As an undergrad research assistant, Caitlin gained a wealth of experience in molecular work, including DNA extraction, PCR, agarose and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and silver staining. She was a part of summer field collection teams, helped in the set-up and carrying out of many ELISA’s, and has played an integral role in many lab projects. Caitlin works at Weill Cornell Medical School.

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