Salazar Lab Team

Graduate Students



Maverick Calo Mariquit (Doctoral Student)

  • Home Country: Philippines
  • M.S. in International Horticulture. Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
  • B.S. in Agriculture major in Crop Science (Horticulture Option). Central Mindanao University, Bukidnon, Philippines

My interest lies on the study of fruits crops with a significant focus on fruit growth and development as well as production and physiology (fruit and plant physiology). I have substantial experience in handling pineapple plantation production where I address pineapple plantation problems through a science-based approach. I also have remarkable experience and knowledge in strawberry production and physiology in the greenhouse and field.

I am very passionate about studying fruit crops with a great desire to develop decision support tools that can help farmers and stakeholders improve crop yield. I am excited to join Dr. Salazar’s team in Spring 2024 as a Graduate Student Research Assistant with an emphasis on growth and development including the physiological responses of strawberries grown in hydroponics and in the field.

I really love to travel a lot and do some video documentations.



Erwin Burgos (Master Student)

  • Home Country: Belize
  • B.S. Agricultural Sciences at EARTH University, Costa Rica CA

I grew up working with plants, from small ornamentals, annual crops, to the great perennials and timber. In my home country, Belize, my work was focused on plant growth and reproduction in nursery systems.

Working with perennial fruits is my greatest interest so far. I joined Salazar’s Lab in August 2023 to pursue master’s degree in Horticultural Sciences.

My research at Auburn involves Nutrition in Peaches. Moreover, I am willing and eager to learn and participate in blueberry, strawberry, and watermelons research activities.

I have an undying passion for plant sciences!



Winfred Nziku (Master Student)

  • Home Country: Tanzania
  • B.S. Agricultural Sciences at EARTH University, Costa Rica CA

I have joined in Spring 2024, Dr. Salazar´s lab for my Master´s degree in the Horticulture Department at Auburn university. My research focus will be to develop efficient methods that reduce or prevent nutrient leaching in peach production. My passion for Horticulture comes from one of the important agricultural zone/areas in Tanzania, where I was born and raised, Njombe region.

In the year 2022, I did my internship at Clemson university, where I carried out research on nutrient dynamics of peach tree leaves. This opportunity fueled my interest in wanting to learn more about peaches, contribute to the research works and peach production at large.

My hobbies are listening to news and music, playing soccer/football, and singing.



Samjhana Wagle (Master Student)

  • Home Country: Nepal
  • M.S. in Agriculture Biotechnology, Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal
  • B.S. in Agriculture, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Previously, my experience revolved around working with rice and wheat crops, fueling my enthusiasm for continual learning and researching new crops. In Spring 2024, I joined Dr. Salazar’s lab as a Graduate Research Assistant.

Currently, my research focuses on phenological studies and comparing various blueberry and watermelon cultivars in both high tunnels and open field production. This opportunity aligns with my passion for exploring new crops and contributing to agricultural knowledge.

Beyond research, I enjoy spending my spare time engaging in activities like dancing, traveling, and making new friends.

Research Support

Caroline Blanchard - Research Associate II


Caroline Blanchard
Research Associate II
113 Funchess Hall

I coordinate research projects at the aquaponics research facility and help graduate students with experimental design and setup, data collection, and data analysis. In my spare time, I like to hike, read, and work on my crochet projects.

Visitor Scholars – Interns

Rommel Adrian Muñoz-Alvarado - Visiting Scholar

Rommel-Munoz-Alvarado-visiting-scholar in front of a helicopter

  • B.S. in Environmental and Development, Pan-American Agricultural School, Zamorano, Honduras (2015)

I joined the Horticulture Department at Salazar Lab, in February 2023. My background is based on harvest and post-harvest production of flowers, vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper), and bananas. I am currently working as an intern on strawberries, blueberries, and peaches projects looking to improve my skills and knowledge about the quality, physiology, and phenology of the cultivars and their acceptance at local growers and markets. In my spare time, I like reading, playing video games, and traveling.

Lab Alumni

Adriana Cifuentes-Carvajal - M.S.


Adriana Cifuentes-Carvajal (Master Student)

  • B.S. in Biology. University of Caldas, Manizales, Colombia (2011)
  • Especialist in Geographical Information Systems. University of Caldas, Manizales, Colombia (2016)

I have grown a great interest in physiology in perennial crops over the years. Previously, my research focused on dormancy, especially for cherries and grapes. I am enthusiastic about learning and researching new crops at every opportunity I get. I joined Dr. Salazar’s team in the Spring of 2022 as a Graduate Student Research Assistant. My research activities include dormancy, phenology, and growth development of different peach and blueberry cultivars.  I enjoyed hiking, reading, and sharing time with friends.

Nelda Raquel Hernández-Martinez - M.S.


Nelda Raquel Hernández-Martinez (Master Student)

  • B.S. in Agricultural Science and Production, Pan-American Agricultural School, Zamorano, Honduras (2019)

My research interest focuses on fruit crops physiology and phenology responses to different growth limiting abiotic factors, such as temperature, light, CO2, and humidity, and how to best manage them to get higher yields. My current research project focuses on strawberry performance under controlled environments. Outside of research, I enjoy outdoor activities, photography, and coffee time.  I joined Dr. Salazar’s Lab in January 2022.

Axel Ali Zimeri-Gomez - M.S.


Axel Ali Zimeri-Gomez 

  • M.S. in Horticulture (2023)
  • B.S. in Agricultural Science and Production, Pan-American Agricultural School, Zamorano, Honduras (2018)

I joined the Horticulture Master’s Program at Auburn University in the Fall of 2021, currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Salazar Lab. The focus of my research is small fruit production under protected cultivation, and I specialize in Blueberry production. My research group works to further the understanding of the physiological and phenological responses of small fruits under different methods of production. My thesis project emphasizes the comparison of Southern High Bush Blueberries cultivars under High Tunnels and open field production. In my spare time, I like to spend my time outdoors.








Assistant Professor
112 Funchess Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849