Current Members

Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis
Professor and University Faculty Scholar

Susana is originally from Lima, Peru. She graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (Lima, Peru) in 1995. She obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant breeding and genetics from North Carolina State University in 1998 and 2003, respectively. Her main research interests are in germplasm characterization and development of breeding populations, and the utilization of new technologies in association with conventional breeding methods for turfgrass improvement.

Susana is married to another public breeder and has two daughters. Her hobbies include traveling (especially to her beloved Peru), cooking, and enjoying her favorite microbrews.

Contact Information
susana_milla-lewis@ncsu.edu
919-515-3196
1126B Williams Hall

Research Gate Profile


Xingwang Yu
Research Associate

Xingwang is originally from Shandong, China. He graduated with a B.S degree in Plant Science & Technology at Hunan Agricultural University (Changsha, China). He got his Ph.D. degree in Plant Genetics from Nanjing Agricultural University (Nanjing, China) in 2015. He moved to North Carolina and joined our program in 2016.

Xingwang’s current research emphasis are on understanding the genetic and molecular basis of growth, abiotic and biotic stress tolerance in warm-season turfgrasses, including QTL and association analysis, gene and protein identification, and development of maker assisted selection (MAS).

Xingwang is married to an excellent scientist. He likes playing soccer and has always been a faithful fan to his hometown soccer team-Shandong Luneng.

Contact Information
xyu15@ncsu.edu
919-515-0324
1130 Williams Hall


Esdras M. Carbajal
Research Specialist

Esdras, originally from Yorito-Yoro, Honduras, received his B.S. in natural resources from the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura (Olancho, Honduras). Esdras started with the program in 2010 as an international scholar. He attained his M.S. degree from NC State University in 2017 working on the use of colchicine to manipulate ploidy levels in St. Augustinegrass. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in Plant breeding, working in embryo rescue and tissue culture to create triploid lines of  St. Augustinegrass.

Esdras manages all field and greenhouse aspects of the program as well as the St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass crossing program.

He enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and pets (Rita, the bearded dragon and Carmen and Uferles, the ferrets), . Esdras loves food (especially sugar!) and his hobbies are dancing, hiking and swimming.

Contact Information
emcarbaj@ncsu.edu 
919-515-3775
840 Method rd, Raleigh NC 27607

Unit 2, Room 14


Rocio van der Laat
Research Specialist

Rocio is originally from San Jose, Costa Rica. She joined the program as a Research Assistant in 2017. Rocio got a B.S. in Agronomy from the Universidad de Costa Rica, and a B.S. in Entomology and a M.S. in Crop Production and Physiology, both from Iowa State University.

Rocio currently manages our efforts in breeding for chinch bug resistance in St. Augustinegrass.

She enjoys spending time with her family, gardening and traveling.

 

 

Contact Information
rvander@ncsu.edu
919-515-0324
1130 Williams Hall


Beatriz Gouveia
Post-doctoral Researcher

Beatriz is originally from Esperanca Nova, Parana State, Brazil. She graduated with a B.S degree in Agronomy at Universidade Estadual de Maringa (Umuarama, Brazil) in 2014. She got her M.S. in plant science and Ph.D. in genetics and plant breeding from Universidade Federal de Lavras (Lavras, Brazil) in 2016 and 2019, respectively.

Beatriz’s current research focuses on multi-environment trial analysis of turf species (Bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, Seashore Paspalum and Zoysiagrass) for the Warm-season Turfgrass Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) projects.

In her spare time Beatriz enjoys traveling and spending time with friends.

Contact Information
gouveiabt@ncsu.edu
984-234-8385
1209 Williams Hall


Greta Rockstad
Graduate Research Assistant

Greta hails from a farm outside Ada, Minnesota. She received her degree in plant science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and joined our team in the summer of 2019 to pursue an M.S. degree in crop science.

Her research will build on the drought tolerance mapping efforts in St. Augustinegrass by validating previously identified QTL. Another part of her project will be to evaluate various high-throughput phenotyping tools for assessing drought tolerance in St. Augustinegrass.

Some of her hobbies include rock climbing, skiing, and experiencing the craft beer scene in North Carolina.

 

Contact Information
gbrockst@ncsu.edu
919-515-0324
1209 Williams Hall


Kirtus Houting
Graduate Research Assistant

Kirtus is originally from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. He received a B.S. in Agronomy from South Dakota State University in December of 2018 and joined the program in the summer of 2020 to pursue an M.S. degree in crop science.

His research will focus on the development of genetic control for large patch resistance in zoysiagrass. Another main focal point will be mapping QTL associated with large patch resistance.

In his free time, Kirtus enjoys golfing, gardening, and watching any Philadelphia sports.

 

 

Contact Information
kphoutin@ncsu.edu
919-515-0324
1209 Williams Hall


Susmita Gaire
Graduate Research Assistant

Susmita is originally from Chitwan, Nepal. She joined our program in the fall of 2021 to pursue a doctoral degree in crop science. She received her M.S. in Horticultural Sciences from the University of Florida and a B.S in Agriculture Sciences from the Agriculture and Forestry University in Nepal.

Susmita’s current research focuses on genetics of freeze tolerance in St. Augustinegrass. Her work will involve validating previously identified freeze tolerance QTL and identifying candidate genes involved in cold acclimation and freeze tolerance in St. Augustinegrass.

She enjoys traveling, photography and kayaking.

 

Contact Information
sgaire@ncsu.edu
919-515-0324
1209 Williams Hall


Carolina Escalona Weldt
International Intern

Carolina is originally from Los Ángeles, Chile. She graduated with a B.S degree in Plant Biotechnology Engineering at the Universidad de Concepción (Concepción, Chile) in March 2020. She is currently doing her second internship in the program as of July 2021, and will pursue an M.S degree next year.

Carolina’s current research emphasis is focused on identifying putative genes involved in cold acclimation and cold tolerance in Zoysiagrass.

In her free time she enjoys going to the gym, traveling and exploring the parks of Raleigh.

 

Contact Information
mcescalo@ncsu.edu
984-298-1986
2402 Williams Hall


Alejandra Quiñones
International Intern

Alejandra is a Peruvian molecular biologist passionate about genomics in plant breeding and innovations in agriculture. She graduated in December 2019 from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia with a B.S. in Biology and joined the program in summer 2021.

She’s studying the genetic diversity of a large St. Augustinegrass population through Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) and will later use the results in a genome-wide association study.

In her free time she likes to bike around the city and binge-watch crime documentaries on Netflix.

Contact Information
aquinon3@ncsu.edu
919-515-0324
2402 Williams Hall