CAHNRS – Department of Entomology

Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture

A natural approach to food safety?

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Biodiversity and Natural Pest Control

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Helping Potato Farmers Fight Disease

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Do Birds Help Farmers?

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Balancing Biocontrol Through Organic Farming

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Welcome to the Snyder Lab

We are a diverse group of ecologists, joined by our common interest in finding natural solutions to problems in species conservation, sustainable agriculture, and human health. Ecological problem-solving can be a particularly powerful way to uncover basic knowledge about species interactions, and all of our work contributes to a fundamental understanding of how ecosystems function. Our goal is to reduce the conflict between species conservation and feeding a growing human population. In fact, we find that restoring and maintaining natural biodiversity is often the key to managing pests while providing safe and healthy food.

Field work, often on the farms of collaborating growers or in nearby natural areas, is a key part of every project in the laboratory. Our research focuses on organisms ranging from wild birds, to predatory insects and insect-killing pathogens, to mosquitoes. Several newer projects examine the ecology of insect-transmitted human, animal, and plant pathogens. Our new molecular lab is helping us dive head-first into the world of eco-genomics, while some lab members add statistical, modeling, or GIS components to their projects.

Join us! We are always interested in adding new lab members interested in joining one of our ongoing projects, or wanting to explore new related areas. Explore existing projects here, learn about student and postdoc openings here, or contact Bill at

Snyder Lab News

PhD student Olivia Smith has published a series of outreach articles discussing the varied roles of wild birds on organic farms.

Congratulations to Karol Krey, who won first place in the PhD student paper competition at this spring’s PBESA meeting in Portland.

Undergrad researcher Elizabeth Magill stars in this video describing her experiences as a woman in STEM, in honor of International Women’s Day.

Congratulations to new PhD student Jessa Thurman, who just received ARCS and Fulbright Fellowships! Jessa will spend her Fulbright year studying biological control in Australia.

Bill recently co-led a “how to get your paper published and cited” workshop at the Oikos Meeting in Denmark, and one of the graduate students that participated wrote a nice description of what we discussed.

Congratulations to undergraduate researchers Elizabeth Magill and Sabrina Judson, who shared first place at the BIOAg poster competition. Carmen Blubaugh mentored poster prep.

Joseph Taylor‘s predator ecology work was featured in the Seattle Times. Changing the world, one beetle at a time!

Congratulations to postdoc Carmen Blubaugh and PhD student Matt Jones, who received prestigious USDA-NIFA Fellowships. Carmen will examine how soil characteristics impact plants’ ability to attract beneficial predators, while Matt is studying natural means to lower human-pathogen contamination of fresh produce.

Matt Jones is featured in this promotional video for New Zealand’s Fulbright program. Matt just finished a Fulbright year studying dung beetles in NZ. Who knew Matt had a suit??

Our ABIRDS crew was featured in the Full Belly Beet, the newsletter of a cooperating grower (it is an amazing farm).

Congratulations to the new Drs. Meadows and Castillo Carrillo, who graduated this spring.

Congrats to lab alum Ricardo Ramirez who just received tenure in the Biology Department at Utah State.

Congratulations to PhD students Joseph Taylor and Matt Jones for winning NSF Predoctoral (GRFP) and Fulbright Fellowships, respectively. Joseph will study predator niche breadth on organic farms, and Matt is studying dung beetle ecology in New Zealand.

Press releases on our new, $2 million songbird agroecology grant are here and here. More info on the research objectives is here.

Press releases on our new, $2.7 million potato disease ecology grant are here and here. More info on the research objectives is here.

PhD student Matt Jones’s food safety research has appeared in Food Safety News, the Capital Press and a WSU news release.

PhD student Lessando Gontijo’s use of flowers to conserve natural enemies was featured in Western Farm Press.

Dave Crowder’s postdoctoral research in the lab was featured in the NY Times, Seattle Times, and Nature News, among many others.

WSU’s magazine did a nice story on Debbie Finke’s Science paper.

A few other Snyder lab stories appear here, here, here and here.

Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6382, 509-335-5422, Contact Us
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