Lab members


Lab photo, Summer 2016


Rachel Vannette, PI                                                                                                                               Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2011 Bachelor’s degree, Calvin College, 2006

Postdoctoral scholars

Robert Schaeffer, USDA ELI Postdoctoral Fellow

co-advised by R. Vannette, D. Crowder, N. Williams and T. Fukami

Ph.D. Dartmouth College 2014; B.S. University of Pittsburgh 2007

Robert is a community and evolutionary ecologist interested in cross-kingdom interactions involving plants, insects and microbes. As a member of the Vannette lab, Robert is studying floral microbiome assembly and function in tree fruit and nut systems. His Google Scholar page

Caitlin Rering, Research Chemist at USDA

*Coadvised with John Beck, UDSA-ARS Gainesville, FL


Graduate students

Alexandria Igwe,  PhD Student in the Microbiology Graduate group

A. Igwe

Email: aigwe at ucdavis dot edu

Allie is interested in understanding how microbial community composition and functions contribute to plant phenotypes. She finished her undergraduate degree in Biology at Howard University where her honor’s research focused on the role of nickel as a defense against herbivory. While studying at Texas A&M, Allie focused on microbial community dynamics in hydrocarbon-contaminated soil as a function of plant root exudation and earned a MS in Soil Science. Her current PhD work focuses on understanding how plant growth promoting bacteria contribute to the survival of California wildflowers on serpentine and non-serpentine soil.

Junior specialist


Undergraduates in the lab

Cody Kiniry

Cody Kiniry is an undergraduate Animal Biology student with a strong interest in entomology. Her favorite insects tend to be pollinators, such as Apis mellifera, or as they are commonly called, honey bees! She hopes to pursue a higher education to study colony collapse disorder as well as work with outreach groups to educate the public about the importance of pollinator species. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, photography, and gaming.



Anthony Chan

Details to come!

Previous affiliates

Megan Morris,  visiting graduate student from Liz Dinsdale’s lab at San Diego State University Vannette lab 2015-2016

604112_10100544053773917_73194324_nI am a joint doctoral student of San Diego State University and University of C
alifornia Davis with the Graduate Group in Ecology. I am a microbial ecologist, interested in studying the interactions between microbial communities and their hosts. During my year at UCD i
n the Vannette lab, I will research the temporal variation in nectar-associated microbes, and will integrate microbes into plant-pollinator dynamics





Griffin Hall, junior specialist  2015-2017

Bachelor’s degree, UC Davis, 2015IMG_3242

I study ecology to better understand the interconnectivity of life, especially with plants. I graduated from UC Davis in 2015 with a BS in Biological Sciences, and am grateful to now work in the fascinating area of plant-microbe-insect interactions. With this experience, I hope to narrow down my study focus for when I pursue an advanced degree. Aside from ecology, I also deeply enjoy backpacking, surfing, traveling, art, and speaking Spanish.




Ariana Nagainis (Spring 2016-Fall 2016)

Chela Owens (Spring 2016)

Tim Rei (2016-2017)

Wendy Melendez (2016-2017)