Dr. Yolanda Chen is a Gund Fellow in the Gund Institute for Environment as well as an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont. Through her research, Yolanda is working to understand the origins of insects as pests in agriculture. To do this, she investigates the origins of agriculture and crop domestication, and how these processes have changed biodiversity and the interactions between crops and insects. She is interested in understanding how insect pests have become so successful, including invasive insect pests like the swede midge that impacts local growers in Vermont. Much of Yolanda’s free time is spent with her family, including driving her 10 year old and 14 year old children to their rock climbing competitions, biathlons, and soccer games. Yolanda also enjoys running and cooking. In particular, she has been having fun trying new recipes and exploring the world through food with a local cookbook discussion group. Yolanda was awarded her B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Rutgers University and her Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley. Afterwards, she conducted postdoctoral research at UC, Berkeley as a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fellow. She then worked as an entomologist studying host plant resistance at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines before joining the faculty at the University of Vermont. In our interview Yolanda shares more about her life and science.
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