Principal Investigator

Dr. Francesca Peduto Hand, Associate Professor

Where I am from: Florence, Italy
PhD, Plant Pathology, University of Florence, Italy
MS, Agricultural Science and Technology, University of Florence, Italy
About myself: I am committed to quality graduate and undergraduate education and to supporting green industry stakeholders in producing healthy plants using sustainable practices. I am passionate about agriculture and women leadership in STEM.
Twitter: @PrettyPlantsDoc


Graduate Students

Isabel Emanuel, PhD student, NIFA-AFRI Predoctoral Fellow (2018-present)

Where I am from: Baltimore, MD
M.S., Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University
B.S., Microbiology, University of Maryland, College Park
My research: My research aims to develop integrated disease management strategies for an emerging disease affecting ornamental holly.
Something about myself: In my free time, I enjoy attending group fitness classes and participating in intramural sports.
Twitter: @IsabelBEmanuel


Daniela Gutierrez Yanez, MS student (2021-present)

Where I am from: Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Education: B.S., Agricultural Sciences and Production, Escuela Agricola Panamericana Zamorano, Honduras
My research: My research focuses on identifying soilborne pathogens of cut flowers and the potential use of anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) for disease management.
Something about myself: I’m a black belt in Taekwondo, I love science and in my free time I enjoy reading and learning new things.
Twitter: @daniela_dgy


Nicolle Omiotek, PhD student (2020-present)

Where I am from: The Greater Chicagoland Area, IL
B.S., Biology, Honors Program, Elmhurst College
A.S., Honors Program, Elgin Community College
My research: My current research focus is on understanding the genomic diversity of the English Ivy pathogen Xanthomonas hortorum pv. hederae (Xhh). 
Something about myself: I love to participate in community science by going mushroom hunting to help document the diversity of mushrooms in the world.


Yesenia I. Vélez-Negrón, PhD student (2020-present)

Where I am from: Puerto Rico
B.S., Crop Protection, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (UPRM)
My research: My current research focuses on the diagnosis of specialty cut flower diseases and on studying bacterial pathogens of cereal such as barley and wheat.
Something about myself: I love having a good cup of coffee and spending time with my cat. I love new experiences and I firmly believe that everyone has to take care of their mental health.
Twitter: @YeseniaIVelNeg8 


Research Associates & Postdoctoral Researchers

Dana Martin, Research Associate 1B-H (2022-present)

Where I am from: Seville, OH
M.S., Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University
B.S., Plant Health Management, The Ohio State University
About myself: I am passionate about science and agriculture and am excited by working with plant pathogens and plant disease diagnosis. In my free time, I enjoy reading and spending time at the lake with my family, friends and dog, Louis.


Rachel Capouya, NIFA-AFRI Postdoctoral Fellow (2022-present)

Where I am from: Atlanta, GA
Ph.D., Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University
M.S., Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University
B.S., Genetics, University of Georgia
My research: My current research project is focused on improving methods of diagnosing Phytophthora Root Rot in woody ornamentals using whole genome sequencing technology.
About myself: I am an avid soccer player and fan of the Columbus Crew. I also love reading sci-fi and fantasy books and hanging out with my cats.



Undergraduate Students

Aleacia Laird (2021-present)

Where I am from: Springfield, OH
Education: Global Impact STEM Academy High School, 2019
About myself: I am a 3rd year student at Ohio State majoring in Plant Pathology with a minor in Horticulture. I enjoy being a CFAES ambassador and working with prospective students and my ambassador team. I am passionate about OSU Extension and have spent the past two summers working with Master Gardener Volunteers in Clark County Ohio. In my free time I enjoy gardening, going to coffee shops, and spending intentional time with my family and friends.


Former members

Coralie Farinas
PhD student (2015-2020)
Current position: Plant Pathologist, Ball Helix
Cristian Olmos
MS student (2019-2020)
Shan Lin
PhD student (2014-2018)
Current position: Applied Research Supervisor, Driscoll’s Inc.
Dana Martin
MS student (2015-2017)
Current position: Research Associate, Ornamental Crops Pathology Lab, OSU.












Caterina Villari
Postdoc (2016-2017)
Current position: Assistant Professor, University of Georgia
Veena Devi Ganeshan
Postdoc (2017-2018)
Current position: Research Associate, ABRC, OSU