Lab members

Dr. Cassandra L. Swett

Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist-Vegetable and Field Crop Pathology
Department of Plant Pathology
University of California, Davis
Phone: 530-752-3377



Ph.D., Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis
M.S., Tropical Plant Pathology, University of Hawaii, Manoa
B.S., Plant Science (Philosophy minor), UC Santa Cruz

Areas of interest: Ecosphysiological interactions of fungal symbionts with plant hosts across the endophyte-pathogen-saprophyte continuum; overcoming pathogen-related barriers limiting adaption to increased scarcity of high quality water; Fusarium ecology.

Publications via Research Gate

Dr. Johanna Del Castillo Munera

Assistant Project Scientist

Ph.D., Plant Pathology, Michigan State University
M.S. Biological Sciences, Univ. de los Andes
B.S. Microbiology, Univ. de los Andes

Dr. Kelley Paugh

Postdoctoral Research Scientist, NIFA postdoctoral Fellow


Ph.D., Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis
B.S., Biological Sciences, Fungal Biology and Ecology minor, University of California, Davis

Areas of interest: Soilborne plant disease, cultural practices for disease management, fungal biology and ecology, extension plant pathology.
Primary research focus: Investigating cryptic infections by Fusarium oxysporum, survival biology of soilborne fungal pathogens, and the effect of deficit irrigation on fungal and oomycete disease risk in greenhouse and field crop production.

Megan McCaghey

Postdoctoral Research Scientist, NIFA postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D., Plant Pathology (Plant Breeding minor), University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.S., International Agricultural Development (Plant Pathology concentration), University of California- Davis
B.A., Environmental Studies (Social-Cultural emphasis and Biology minor), Hendrix College

Areas of interest: Broadly, I am interested in translational, lab-to-field research questions and extension pertaining to host-fungal pathogen interactions; fungal ecology and epidemiology; integrated disease management strategies; and developing crop disease resistance through breeding and biotechnological approaches.
Primary research focus: Developing information systems and integrated strategies to manage Southern blight, caused by the fungal pathogen Sclerotium rolfsii, with applications to conventional and organic vegetable production.

Justine Beaulieu

PhD Student, Western SARE Graduate Fellow


M.S., Plant Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park
B.S., Environmental Science and Policy (Environment and Agriculture), University of Maryland, College Park

Areas of interest: Soil borne fungal and oomycete ecology, fungal-root interactions, water management and drought stress as relates to plant disease, plant disease predisposition, vegetable crop pathology, diagnostics, extension

Primary research focus: Elucidating the relationship between drought stress and soil borne pathogens in processing tomatoes.


Beth Hellman

Diagnostic Research Assistant

B.S., Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park

Areas of interest: Fungal ecology, fungal-plant interactions, plant pathogens, water resource management, sustainable agriculture, scientific outreach.


Alyssa Brackrog

Master’s Student
B.S., Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry, University of California, Davis
Areas of interest: Field and greenhouse crop cultivation, plant pathology diagnostics, plant-fungal interactions, disease management, sustainable agriculture, scientific outreach and extension.
Primary research focus: Identifying new genetic material with potential for genetic resistance and evaluating cultivar-based management strategies for Fusarium falciforme on tomatoes.


Aimee Hopkins
Junior Research Specialist

B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior from University of California, Davis

Areas of Interest: Ecological relationships between fungi and plants, finding sustainable and
safe disease management practices.

Emma Centeno

Field and Greenhouse Manager
Education: B.S.,Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, UC Davis
Area of Interest: Permaculture-based systems, sustainable food production systems, carbon sequestration, agroecology, and water management


 Research interns

Harison Powell. GDB Thesis. Fusarium falciforme on cowpea: first report. Mentor: Dr. Swett

Annaliese Divney. GDB Thesis. Fusarium falciforme on pepper: first report. Co-mentors: Drs. Swett and Del Castillo

Elver Lopez Raymundo. Effect of deficit irrigation on root microbe colonization. Co-mentor: Dr. Swett and J. Beaulieu

Mrinalini Narayan. GDB Thesis. Changes in southern blight epidemiology in California. Co-mentors: Drs. Swett and McCaghey

Jesica Calderon. GDB Thesis. Sclerotinia sclerotiorum on ornamentals-first report. Mentor: Dr. Del Castillo

Ana Calderon. GDB Thesis. Effect of compost amendments on pathogen-suppressive microbes. Co-mentors: Drs. Swett and Paugh

Current undergraduate student technicians

Megan Kozel

Harrison Powell

Mrinalini Narayan

Anni Divney

Alijca Bednarska

Cooper Calvin

Emma Centeno

Gregory Sugawara

Elver Lopez

Ana Calderon

Jesica Calderon

Ana Chavez

Kelly Flores

Alma Orellana

Past Members

Alicja Bednarska, Melanie Belk, Karla Espinoza, Erin Helpio, Heather Johnson, Andi Bourquin, Emily Hain, Rino Oguchi, Alexa Soto, Sydnie Koontz, Nyny Vu

Past Visitors

Sophia Callahan (University of Melbourne)