CAFNR Welcomes New Faculty

Our college introduces 23 faculty members this fall 

Each fall the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources welcomes new faculty members to fulfill teaching, research and extension missions. This fall, CAFNR’s 23 new faculty members are at the forefront in a breadth of fields, including wildlife population modeling, nutrient metabolism in cattle, animal well-being, structural biology of viral/host interactions, collective entrepreneurship, water resources planning, genome editing and basic understanding of molecular interaction of host/microbe, using green technology to add value to ag waste, connecting farmers to high-value markets, the role Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) play in the regulation of different biological processes, uterine stem cells, behavioral economics, invasive insect species movement patterns, whole genome comparative methods to examine genetic adaptation events, environmental, conservation, natural resource, energy and transportation law, policy and justice, and more. CAFNR is proud to introduce the new faculty members for fall 2018:

Portrait of Kaitlyn BissonnetteKaitlyn Bissonnette
Assistant Extension Professor, Plant Sciences

Bissonnette joins Mizzou from Iowa State University, where she served as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology. Her research has focused on applied research of current and emerging field crop pathogens, the use and limitations of using chemical and biological compounds to control various field crop diseases, and evaluating the efficiency of integrated management practices for disease control and management of field crops. Bissonnette is an active member of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and the Soybean Cyst Nematode Coalition. She received second place in the Graduate Student Paper Competition at the Pacific Division meeting of APS in 2012 and was a plenary speaker at the 2016 Soybean Cyst Nematode Conference. She received her Ph.D. in crop sciences from the University of Illinois. You can reach Bissonnette at

Portrait of Thomas BonnotThomas Bonnot
Assistant Research Professor, School of Natural Resources

Bonnot served as a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist in the School of Natural Resources before taking on this faculty position. He is also a Fellow of the Northeast Climate Science Center, Department of Interior. Bonnot’s research has focused on conserving viability of wildlife populations in response to landscape and climate change, including evaluating conservation and climate change scenarios on wildlife species using different population models. He has been part of grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to research conservation planning under climate change. Bonnot received the Carl Morrow Graduate Scholarship from the Conservation Federation of Missouri, and is a member of the Society of Conservation Biologists and The Wildlife Society and a board member of its Climate Change and Wildlife Working Group. He was a review editor for the Midwest Chapter of the 4th National Climate Assessment, U.S. Global Change Research Program. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in Natural Resources, with a minor in Statistics. You can reach Bonnot at

Portrait of Derek BrakeDerek Brake
Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences

Brake joins Mizzou from South Dakota State University, where he served as an assistant professor. Here he will concentrate on research and teaching in ruminant nutrition with research efforts focusing on nutrient metabolism throughout the gastrointestinal tract, and the interface among nutrient metabolism and performance of cattle. Brake is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, the American Society of Animal Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Dairy Science Association. He received the American Society of Animal Science Young Scholar Award in 2013. Brake has been a project director or co-investigator on grants from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. He received his Ph.D. from Kansas State University in animal sciences, focusing in ruminant nutrition, nutritional biochemistry and digestive physiology. You can reach Brake at

Portrait of Nichole ChapelNichole Chapel
Assistant Teaching Professor, Animal Sciences

Chapel received her Ph.D. in animal science from Purdue University in August 2018, with an emphasis in animal welfare. Her focus at Mizzou will be on teaching in animal behavior and well-being. Her research focuses on environmental impacts on animal behavior and quantifying animal well-being via behavioral measures. Chapel was the recipient of the first Grand Challenge Assistantship at Purdue University, which she used to increase internal and external recognition of the department’s work in animal well-being, and determined the need for a professional master’s program focused on animal behavior and welfare. She has also received the Graduate Teaching Award at the North American Teachers and Colleges of Agriculture National Meeting, the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award from the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue, won the National Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest as part of a graduate team, and finished first in the Graduate Research Summary oral competition at the American Association of Bovine Practitioners national meeting. You can reach Chapel at

Portrait of Michael ChapmanMichael Chapman
Chair and Wurdack Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry

Chapman joined Mizzou from Oregon Science and Health University, where he was the Richard T. Jones Professor of Structural Biology and interim chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He also served as director of the Quantitative Biosciences and Biomedical Engineering Training Program at OHSU. Chapman is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research uses a variety of biophysical and other methods to examine structural biology of viral/host interactions and enzyme dynamics. He has served as chair of the Gordon Research Conference: Diffraction Methods in Structural Biology, and for the National Institutes of Health on Macromolecular Structure and Function panels and chairing reviews of National Centers. Chapman is currently principal investigator on the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award, “Adeno-Associated Virus Gene Therapy Vectors: Molecular Interactions on Cell Entry.” Chapman’s research on this topic has been published in Nature, among other journals. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. You can reach Chapman at

Portrait of Kerry ClarkKerry Clark
Assistant Research Professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences

Clark served as a research associate in DASS and a project manager for the USAID Soybean Innovation Lab, before accepting this faculty position in rural sociology. Her research interests are in developing crop production systems that diminish environmental degradation and will allow natural resources to continue to support population growth into the future. Clark is the co-founder of the organic research program at the University of Missouri and, through the USAID Soybean Innovation Lab, works with a multi-disciplinary team conducting research for development of soybean production systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Clark served in the Peace Corps in Mali. She is a member of the Missouri Soil Health Consortium and is currently part of a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture looking at soil quality on organic farms. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in soil science. Contact Clark at

Portrait of Jasper GrashuisJasper Grashuis
Assistant Research Professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences

Grashuis served as a postdoctoral fellow and adjunct professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics for two years before accepting this faculty position. His research interests include collective entrepreneurship, spatial economics, choice experimentation, imperfect competition, food and drink innovation, intellectual property protection, industrial organization and strategic management. He has also served as a consultant for Land O’ Lakes, and as a research associate for the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership and an adjunct professor in the Trulaske College of Business, both at Mizzou. He received his Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Missouri. Contact Grashuis at

Portrait of Damon HallDamon Hall
Assistant Professor
School of Natural Resources, College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
Biomedical, Biological & Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering

Hall joins Mizzou from Saint Louis University, where he was an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and Center for Sustainability. He was hired as part of the College of Engineering’s Pillars of Pursuit cluster “Sustainability inFEWSed (Food, Energy, Water, Smart Cities).” His research examines interactions between social and ecological systems where science, policy and culture meet. His work involves stakeholders in environmental policy and sustainability planning. At Mizzou, he heads the Sustainability Science Lab, which includes projects in water resources planning, urban pollinator conservation and communicating social-ecological systems models. Hall has received grants from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Science Foundation and the Missouri Department of Conservation. Hall’s paper, “The city as a refuge for insect pollinators,” was one of the top 20 most downloaded in 2017 and received the highest Altmetric score of all papers published in 2016 for the journal Conservation Biology. He has received a teaching honor from Saint Louis University and a partnership award from the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. Hall is a member of the International Society for Sustainability Science, the American Water Resources Association, the International Association for Society and Natural Resources, and the International Society for Ecological Modeling. He received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in wildlife and fisheries sciences. Contact Hall at

Portrait of Megan HallMegan Hall
Assistant Research Professor, Plant Sciences

Hall received her Ph.D. in plant pathology and plant-microbe biology from Cornell University in 2018, where her research focused on understanding the etiology and epidemiology, as well as developing management strategies, for sour rot on grapes. She has also worked as a viticulturist for vineyards in Oregon. At Mizzou, Hall will serve as viticulturist for the Grape and Wine Institute. She has received presentation awards from the American Phytopathological Society and the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, both of which she is a member, in addition to the prestigious Frederick Dreer Award for International Research from Cornell’s Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. You can reach Hall at

Portrait of Kiruba KrishnaswamyKiruba Krishnaswamy
Assistant Professor
Food Systems and Bioengineering, College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
Biomedical, Biological & Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering

Krishnaswamy joins the University of Missouri from the University of Toronto, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. While at the University of Toronto, she organized the first UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Youth Leadership Training Session, “Sustainable Development by 2030: From your doorstep, to the world.” There she also managed three salt fortification projects, developing micronutrient-fortified salt technologies that resulted in pilot-scale production reaching 60 million people in India. Her research addresses two interrelated challenges of food security: using green nanotechnology to add value to agricultural waste; and fortifying food with micronutrients to address problems of hidden hunger. She has received awards including the Best Ph.D. Thesis Award from the Canadian Society for Bioengineers for using green nanotechnology to synthesize gold nanoparticles from grape waste. Krishnaswamy is a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering and the Institute of Food Technologists. Krishnaswamy received the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship to conduct her Master’s research at McGill University, where she also received her Ph.D. in bioresource engineering. You can reach her at

Portrait of John KruseJohn Kruse
Associate Extension Professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences

Kruse joins Mizzou from the World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services (WAEES), where he was principal and director of quantitative analysis. He has spent about half of his 30-year career in the public sector with the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and half in the private sector, mostly developing his own analysis firm. His extension, applied research and teaching is focused on finding ways to enhance farm income by connecting farmers to high-value markets and helping develop these markets, finding ways for Missouri farmers to gain competitive advantage through innovation, empowering farmers with the knowledge and confidence to market their crops in top third of the price distribution, and helping farmers manage risk using marketing, crop insurance, and farm programs. Kruse is working on several new projects including measuring the performance of grain marketing techniques; identifying valued-added marketing opportunities for Missouri fruit, vegetable, and tree nut growers; measuring the value of technology; and evaluating global food demand and supply to 2050. He is a member of the Agricultural and Applied Economic Association. Kruse received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in agricultural economics. You can reach him at

Portrait of Sarah A. LowSarah A. Low
Fred V. Heinkel Professor in Agriculture and Associate Professor in Regional Economics, Division of Applied Social Sciences

Low will provide leadership for the Division of Applied Social Sciences’ extension and research efforts that will focus on enhancing rural economic development, improving local community viability, developing effective policies and studying issues from a local or regional perspective. She comes to Mizzou from the USDA Economic Research Service in Washington, D.C., where she has worked as an economist for the Rural Economy Branch and the Farm and Rural Business Branch. There her research focused on rural economic development, including topics related to rural manufacturing, financial capital availability, innovation, entrepreneurship, local and regional food marketing, agritourism, socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, broadband internet, ethanol, and unconventional oil and gas. She was the Data and Research Team Lead for the Rural Infrastructure Group on detail to the USDA’s Office of the Secretary for six months in 2017-18. She has received awards from the Economic Research Service and the USDA. She has been honored by the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with the Superior Achievement for Early/Mid-Career Alumni award and by the Iowa State Alumni Association with the STATEment Maker award. She is currently part of a USDA-AFRI grant to study “Developing a Research-Based Entrepreneurial Curriculum for Rural Firm Entry & Survival,” among other sponsored research projects. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. You can reach Low at

Portrait of Ritcha Mehra-ChaudharyRitcha Mehra-Chaudhary
Assistant Teaching Professor, Biochemistry

Mehra-Chaudhary joins CAFNR from The Molecular Interactions Core in the Mizzou Office of Research, where she was a senior research specialist. In this position she provided service and training on protein structure determination. She has worked on a diverse range of organisms and research topics during her research career, including role of alternative pathway of respiration in senescence and adaptation in field crops, to structural studies of bacterial enzymes and to transcriptional regulation of muscle cell differentiation in mammalian cell lines and mice. Mehra-Chaudhary was a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Lesa Beamer, professor of Biochemistry, from 2006-10. During that time, she taught a variety of undergraduate laboratory courses. She received her Ph.D. from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, in plant physiology, with minors in biochemistry and molecular biology and biotechnology. You can reach Mehra-Chaudhary at

Portrait of Ron MittlerRon Mittler
Professor, Plant Sciences

Mittler joins Mizzou from the University of North Texas, where he was a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and in the BioDiscovery Institute. Here at the University of Missouri, he will be part of the Bond Life Sciences Center. He is an editor of The Plant Journal, a member of the American Society of Plant Biologists, and has received awards for being a highly cited researcher and for teaching. Mittler is currently involved with three NSF grants: “Ultrafast Omics Reveals Key Players in the Response of Plants to Abiotic Stress,” “Regulation of Mitochondrial Functions by Iron and Ceramides in C. elegans” and “Integrating ROS, redox and cell metabolism across plant and animal cells.” His research has been on the cover of various journals, including Plant Physiology, Science Signaling, New Phytologist and Trends in Plant Science. Mittler’s research interests are focused on the role Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) play in the regulation of different biological processes, using Arabidopsis thaliana plants and human epithelial breast cancer cells as model organisms. He received his Ph.D. from Rutgers University. You can reach Mittler at

Portrait of Amanda PattersonAmanda Patterson
Assistant Professor
Animal Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
Obstetrics & Gynecology, School of Medicine

Patterson joins Mizzou from Michigan State University, where she was a research assistant professor and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. Here her focus will be on research in reproductive biology. Her research interests include uterine stem cells, uterine fibroids, and early pregnancy and implantation biology. She is a member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction and the Society for Reproductive Investigation. Patterson has received first place in the Trainee Oral Presentation at the Michigan Alliance for Reproductive Technology and Science. Her funded research projects have included a Society for Reproductive Investigation and Bayer Discovery/Innovation Grant and a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Fellowship. She received her Ph.D. from Washington State University in animal sciences, with a focus on mechanisms of endometrial regeneration. While at Washington State she was named Outstanding Doctoral Student for the Department of Animal Sciences. Patterson’s start date is Nov. 1.

Portrait of Tom ReillyThomas Reilly
Assistant Teaching Professor, Biochemistry

Reilly joins the Department of Biochemistry from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mizzou, where he served as quality control/assurance office for diagnostic services and as clinical associate professor for Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory Bacteriology. His research focuses on isolation and characterization of bacteria and enzymes. He is a member of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Reilly has worked on grants for the USDA and holds patents in three countries for a protein mutation. He received his Ph.D. in veterinary pathobiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. You can reach Reilly at

Portrait of Kevin RiceKevin Rice
Assistant Professor, Plant Sciences

Rice joins Mizzou from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Appalachian Fruit Research Station, where he served as a postdoctoral researcher. He has monitored invasive species movement patterns in field crops and orchards using mark-release-recapture techniques, quantified the distance of attraction for pheromone traps, and quantified landscape factors associated with damage in agricultural settings. Using UV lasers, Rice developed a novel detection technique for fluorescent-marked insects and is currently collaborating with engineers at Marquette University and the USDA to combine this technology with unmanned aerial vehicles. Additionally, he is collaborating with a private laser company to develop new methods to quantify insect fitness using laser ablation tomography. Rice has received grants from Northeast Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education, and the Ministry for Primary Industries, Wellington, New Zealand. He was part of a team of researchers who received an IPM award of excellence at the International IPM Symposium in 2015, and received the Delong Research Award during his doctoral studies for excellence in research. Rice is a member of the Ecological Society of America and the Entomological Society of America. He received his Ph.D. in entomology from The Ohio State University. You can reach Rice at

Portrait of Robin RotmanRobin Rotman
Assistant Professor, School of Natural Resources

Rotman joins Mizzou from the Washington, D.C., law firm of Van Ness Feldman LLP, where she was an attorney focusing on energy, environment and natural resources law. She was also an adjunct professor of science, technology and international affairs at the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service. Her research and teaching interests include land conservation, sustainable energy, environmental justice, and water and wastewater infrastructure finance. Rotman began her legal career as special assistant to the director and assistant general counsel for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. She holds a B.S. in geology from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee; an M.S. in water science, policy and management from The University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar; and a J.D. from Yale Law School. While in law school, Rotman was managing editor of the Yale Journal on Regulation, student director of the Yale Environmental Law Clinic, and received a variety of fellowships, including the Yale Law Public Interest Fellowship and AmeriCorps JD Equal Justice Works Fellowship. You can reach Rotman at

Portrait of Michelle SegoviaMichelle Segovia
Assistant Professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences

Segovia received her Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics from Texas A&M University in August 2018. Her dissertation combined experimental methods with biometric tools to analyze food-related behavior. During that time, she was also the laboratory administrator in The Human Behavior Lab, which uses biometric technology to understand, predict and change decision-making processes. Her research areas include experimental and behavioral economics, consumer behavior, food economics and food marketing. Segovia received the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Best Thesis Award in 2015. She is a member of the American Economic Association and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, as well as a graduate fellow of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. You can reach Segovia at

Portrait of Christine SpinkaChristine Spinka
Assistant Teaching Professor, Plant Sciences

Spinka most recently worked for the state of Missouri, at both the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, where she performed research and statistical analysis of corrections, immunizations and electronic health record data. She also has served as an assistant professor in the University of Missouri Department of Statistics, where she collaborated with College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources faculty on projects needing statistical analysis, in addition to teaching and research activities. Spinka’s research interests involve logistic regression and statistical genetics, including genetic epidemiology, association studies, population genetics and molecular phylogeny. She has served as the secretary for both the Mid-Missouri Chapter and the South East Texas Chapter of the American Statistical Association. Spinka earned her Ph.D. in statistics from Texas A&M University, where she received the William C. Connor Memorial Award for outstanding Ph.D. candidate. You can reach her at

Portrait of Jordan ThomasJordan Thomas
Assistant Extension Professor, Animal Sciences

Thomas served as a senior research specialist in the Division of Animal Sciences for four years before taking on this Extension faculty role in beef cattle reproduction. His Extension and research program focuses on fertility, estrous cycle control, and timed artificial insemination. He has conducted field trials with more than 15,500 animals since 2012 and played a key role in coordinating the F.B. Miller Reproductive Management Internship in Animal Sciences. He has received funding for researching applications for sex-sorted semen, methods of estrus synchronization, and novel timed AI strategies. During his graduate training, he received the American Society of Animal Sciences’ Agri-King Outstanding Graduate Student award and Midwest Section Young Scholar honor. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in animal sciences – reproductive physiology. You can reach Thomas at

Portrait of Wes WarrenWesley Warren
Animal Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
Surgery, School of Medicine

Warren joins Mizzou from the Washington University School of Medicine, where he was an associate professor of genetics and molecular microbiology and the assistant director at the McDonnell Genome Institute. Here his appointment is primarily in research and will involve the use of whole genome comparative methods to examine genetic adaptation events within existing or newly discovered model organisms as a means to better understand human biology. He is a leader in the field of comparative genetics, with 27 years of research initiatives in both the biopharmaceutical industry and academia. Among other appointments, he has served as the Comparative Genomics Leader at Monsanto. He is currently part of two National Science Foundation grants and three National Institutes of Health grants. Warren’s research has been published in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in animal sciences with an emphasis in molecular endocrinology. You can reach Warren at

Portrait of Bing YangBing Yang
Professor, Plant Sciences

Yang joins Mizzou from Iowa State University, where he was an associate professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology. In his current position, he serves as a joint hire of the Bond Life Sciences Center and the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. His research interests lie in genome editing and basic understanding of molecular interaction of host/microbe. Yang works on bacterial blight in rice. He has received awards for research and innovation from Iowa State University, and has been a technical review panelist for the National Science Foundation, the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Academy of Science and Medicine. He is part of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates, USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Science Foundation. Yang received his Ph.D. from Kansas State University in plant pathology. You can reach him at