Category Archives: Employee

Jon Nemati – Ext. Demonstration Tech

Jonathan Nemati first joined the Six-legged Aggie team in early May of 2015 before returning to the center in April 2017. He graduated from LeTourneau University in 2016 with a B.S. in Biology.

He has had an interest in wildlife since he was little, collecting and observing a wide variety of wildlife as a hobby as well as studying to improve his knowledge of them. He also enjoys reading, hunting, hiking, fishing and a wide variety of sports. He intends to pursue graduate studies in ecology.

Jon’s role this summer will be to assist in data collection, analysis, and writing reports related to crapemyrtle bark scale, aphid, and thrips management.

Briton Grove – Ext. Demonstration Tech

Briton Grove is a graduate of University of Texas at Tyler with a BS in Biology and a minor in Biochemistry. 

She is interested in how the study of insects could help advance our understanding of antibiotics and disease. Her previous research experience including studying how CRISPRs grant acquired immunity to many viruses and how this tool could be used in autism research. She intends to start a master’s program this fall (2017) at University of Texas at Tyler, concentrating on entomology. For her master’s thesis, she will examine the roles that bacteria play in the stabilization of fungus-gardening ants and their symbiont fungi, including the use of antimicrobial compounds.

In her free time, Ms. Grove enjoys camping, traveling, and gardening. She also gives back to her local community by volunteering with Texas Mission of Mercy as a dental assistant, providing free dental care to low income residents.

Ms. Grove will be assisting Erfan Vafaie with research on the crapemyrtle bark scale, thrips, and aphid management this summer as an Extension Demonstration Technician.

Chris Knight – Ext. Demonstration Tech

Christopher Knight is a graduate from Texas Tech University with a B.Sc. in Horticulture and Turfgrass Science, where he was a member of the Honor Society for Ornamental Horticulture (Pi Alpha xi).  He previously worked for the Texas Tech University Library and currently works part-time for the Tyler Junior College library, providing him with the skills required to conduct literature research and shush disruptive library pests. Mr. Knight also spent time as a Lawn Specialist for TruGreen, the nations largest lawn company, giving him practical experiencing in landscaping and working with ornamentals.  Mr. Knight enjoys spending his free time hunting and fishing, as well as continuing as a hobbyist horticulturalist.       

 Mr. Knight will be assisting with research on the crapemyrtle bark scale this summer, as well as assisting in projects to test the impact of new pesticides on plant health and insect management.

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Extension Demonstration Tech – Adolfo Nieto

Adolfo Nieto is a recent graduate from The University of Texas at Tyler with a bachelors in Biology. As an undergraduate, he began his career as a researcher through the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in a project to design non-invasive sampling methods to identify the virology involved in Colony Collapse Disorder of native bumblebees. He has a deep felt passion for conservation and hopes his enthusiasm transcends through his work at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension Center in Overton, Texas where he will be involved in several projects targeted at prevention and management of invasive insect species such as the crape myrtle bark scale and conduct work on pollinator attractiveness to different flowers. Adolfo is happy to be part of such a great team and looks forward to facing the challenges and opportunities future research will bring.  

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Six-Legged Aggie Research Extension Technician – Patrick Rydzak

Patrick Rydzak began work at the Six Legged Aggie Lab in June of 2015, and is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler with a Master’s degree in Biology.   Patrick received his Bachelors of Science degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston before returning to his home town of Tyler, Texas to earn his Master’s degree, with an ultimate goal of achieving a Ph.D.  In the meantime, Patrick is hard at work in Dr. Blake Bextine’s molecular vector entomology laboratory at the University of Texas at Tyler, as well as assisting IPM specialist Erfan Vafaie with work  at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension Center in Overton, Texas.  Patrick is involved in researching  the relatively new invasive pest, crapemyrtle bark scale, and has spearheaded several efficacy trials to test new products for the greenhouse ornamental and nursery industry. Patrick is excited to be a part of the Six Legged Aggie Team and encourages any questions or advice you may have!

Summer Student – Jonathan Nemati

Jonathan Nemati joined the Six Legged Aggie Lab in early May of 2015. He is a senior student at LeTourneau University, where he is studying Biology.

Although he started in his father’s footsteps by studying engineering physics, he found himself more passionate about his grandfather’s career in ecology and environmental studies, which led him to change his major at the end of his sophomore year.  As such, Jon has good analytical and computing skills combined with his interest in living organisms and their interactions.

He has had an interest in wildlife since he was little, collecting and observing a wide variety of wildlife as a hobby and studying from a number of internet and text sources. His interest in insects began before he was able to read himself, asking his parents and brothers to read him books about insects such as Insects of the Los Angeles Basin (Hogue 1993), however, his primary interest is in the field of herpetology.His other hobbies include reading, hiking, hunting and a wide variety of sports. He intends to pursue graduate studies in ecology after graduating with his bachelors of science.

Jon will be primarily assisting Erfan Vafaie with work on the crape myrtle bark scale, as well as dabbling in other projects and general maintenance for the Six Legged Aggie venture.