Fall semester brings six new faculty to college

The College of Agriculture has welcomed six new faculty members for fall semester 2014.

  • Thorsten Knappenberger, most recently a postdoctoral researcher at Washington State University, has joined the crop, soil and environmental sciences department as assistant professor of soil physics. He received his Ph.D. in agricultural engineering and soil physics from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2009. At Washington State, his research focused on the transport of insoluble contaminants through soil and water.
  • Jessica Starkey is the new assistant professor of nutritional skeletal muscle biology in the Department of Poultry Science. She was awarded the Ph.D. degree in molecular cell developmental biology from the University of Connecticut in 2008, served on the animal and food sciences department faculty at Texas Tech University from 2009 to 2012 and, most recently, held adjunct appointments at both Texas Tech and the University of Georgia.

The four other new faculty members are in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

  • Alana Jacobson received her Ph.D. degree in entomology from North Carolina State University in 2012 and worked as a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellow at NC State before arriving at Auburn as assistant professor of insect ecology and row crops pest management. Her previous research has focused on thrips as vectors of tomato spotted wilt virus and on insecticide resistance in thrips.
  • Jeffrey Coleman, assistant professor of mycology, comes to Auburn from Providence, Rhode Island, where he was assistant professor at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, research scientist at Rhode Island Hospital and consultant in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 2008 and then was employed four years as a research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
  • Sang-Wook Park is the new assistant professor of plant-pathogen interactions at Auburn. A native of Korea, he received his Ph.D. in plant biochemistry from Colorado State University in 2004. From 2004 to 2008, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University’s Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research and, in 2008, was named a senior research associate at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech.
  • Derrick Mathias, most recently a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health postdoctoral fellow studying the biology of malaria transmission, has filled the position of assistant professor of medical entomology. He was awarded his Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Oregon in 2006, and in 2010 received a master’s of public health from Bloomberg with a concentration in infectious diseases from Bloomberg.

All six have appointments of 60 percent research and 40 percent teaching.



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<p><a href="https://agriculture.auburn.edu/author/mcb0005auburn-edu/" target="_self">Mary Catherine Gaston</a></p>

Mary Catherine Gaston

Mary Catherine Gaston is a freelance writer who specializes in agricultural and rural topics. She finds time to write in the midst of homeschooling two children and helping her husband Wes on their row crop and cattle farm near Plains, Georgia. MC holds degrees from Auburn University and Virginia Tech.

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