Meet the Lab

Randa  Randa Jabbour

  Assistant Professor Agroecology

My overall goal is to conduct research and teach classes that help us all to design sustainable agricultural management practices – encompassing environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainability. I started at University of Wyoming in 2013, and it is great fun learning about new cropping systems and working in these challenging semi-arid, high elevation conditions. I have a special place in my heart (and research program) for biological pest control, the interface between crop and non-crop habitats, and better understanding the factors that drive management decisions. My teaching utilizes active learning techniques to engage students – I love when I can watch my students actually learn. When I’m not working, I am most happy playing with my kids, cooking with seasonal produce, laughing with friends, and taking some time for myself through yoga and hiking.

zoe_pic  Zoe Nelson


I have had a particular interest in agriculture since my undergraduate studies at Western Washington University where I took a course in agroecology. This course inspired me to start volunteering weekly for an organic garden outback a local restaurant, which provided all of the produce for said restaurant in Bellingham, Washington. My interests in organic farming took me across the globe in 2009 when a friend and I embarked on a three month adventure volunteering on organic farms across Thailand (WWOOFing). More recently, I have spent the past three years working various field jobs in Wyoming covering a range of research topics. From raptors, to wolves, to wolverines- insect agriculture is a new and exciting field and research experience to add to my repertoire.

2  Makenzie Benander

  Masters Student

My research is focused on biological control of alfalfa weevil, a major pest for alfalfa hay growers. In particular I’m interested in how landscape characteristics and floral habitat might reduce pest populations by supporting a parasitoid wasp. I became interested in agroecology while earning my bachelors in environmental science at the University of New Hampshire. After graduating from UNH I worked on a small farm for a couple of years before coming to Wyoming. When I’m not doing research I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking and exploring.

Jemma  Jemma Woods

  Student Intern

I am from Cheyenne, Wyoming. I transferred to the University of Wyoming in the fall of 2014 from Laramie County Community College. While at L.C.C.C. I played volleyball and studied to become an Education Major. Both of my parents are teachers so I decided to follow their footsteps and become one myself. However, the further I advanced into my major the more I realized that teaching wasn’t for me. So I took some time off from school and got a job working for the City of Cheyenne in the Urban Forestry Department. I noticed that working for the City never felt like a job, and through this realization I discovered a new path that I wanted to take career wise, which lead me to the University of Wyoming, where I am studying to become an Agroecology Major. I am currently a senior at UW, and am looking forward to finishing up my degree in the next couple of years. My interests include horticulture, arboriculture, landscaping, music and movies. In my spare time I enjoy listening to all kinds of music, hiking, reading, and playing intramural volleyball and basketball. I am excited to see where my new career path will take me!

Alanna Elder

Student Intern

I am a junior at the University of Wyoming studying Agroecology, Environment and Natural Resources, and Spanish. Although I have lived in Wyoming for most of my life, I have always been sort of disconnected from crop and livestock production. This will be my first research experience since my fifth grade science fair, when I played music to bean plants to see which tunes might help them grow. Now, am curious about the ways that our management of land effects natural ecosystems, the factors that influence farmers’ and ranchers’ decisions, and the practices that could protect natural and agricultural landscapes. I am hopeful that this summer will answer some of these questions, inspire better ones, and help me master the basics of effective research.

AJonesBioPic2[1]Allison Jones

Research Intern

I’m an alumna of the University of Maine, where I first learned about the significance of both pest and beneficial insects in agricultural. My interest in entomology led me to working with Randa and a graduate student, Sonja Birthisel, to learn about the role of carabid beetles on Maine farms. Since that time, I’ve been busy teaching nature and outdoor skills as a camp counselor, working as an apple harvester, managing a backcountry hut and most recently living abroad in the South of France. I’m excited to be back in the States and to continue learning about the important roles insects have in our world.

Lab Alumni

We’ve had great students help us with research and then head on their way to their bright futures!

  • Kymbre Skersies & Sarah LeTempt (2014-2015) were year-long work study students who helped with everything that we needed, from sewing insect bags made out of bridal veil fabric
  • Jackson Bassett (2014) was a summer intern and weevil counter extraordinaire. Jackson graduated from the University of Wyoming in May 2015 and is currently farming in Lovell.
  • Matthew Cozzens (2014) was a summer intern and sweep netting jedi. Matt is continuing his education at Casper College.
  • Seth Gill (2014) worked part-time on a farmer focus group project and continues as a student here at University of Wyoming.
  • Alex Foulk (2014) worked part-time on analyzing data about student learning and continues as a student here at University of Wyoming.

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