NC State
Small Fruits

Our Team 2019-2020

From left to right: Xiaonan Shi, Mark Hoffmann, Tekan Rana, Amanda Lay, Emma Volk, Rania Hassan, Owen Washam. Not in picture: Hannah Fetzer, Caleb Brownfield.

Team Lead:

Mark Hoffmann

(Write Mark an email)

(phone: 919-352-8006)

Education:

2011: Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) in Biology/Entomology, University of Mainz (Germany)
2011: A.A. in Business Law, University of Hagen (Germany)
2007: M.S. (‘Diplom’) in Biology/Plant Pathology, University of Mainz (Germany)

Appointments:

Since July 2017: Small Fruits Extension Specialist/Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC (USA)

  • 2015-2017: Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of California in Davis, Salinas, CA (USA): Strawberry Production Systems
  • 2013-2014: Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Florida, CREC, Lake Alfred, FL (USA): Control of Asian Citrus Psyllid
  • 2010-2012: Extension Research Assistant, University of Geisenheim, Germany: Distribution and Control of Grape Root Rot

Areas of Expertise:

  • Strawberry Production
  • Viticulture
  • Strawberry Propagation
  • Soil Fumigation and Alternatives

Background:

As a German native, Mark was educated in Germany and lived most of his life in Europe, where he also was an active racing cyclist and a musician for more than 20 years. Currently, he learns new languages in his spare time and enjoys trail running, hiking or backpacking.

Research Assistant:

Emma Volk

Emma joined our team in August 2019 as bi-weekly worker and is full-time Research Assistant since November 2020. She has worked as a farm manager on an organic farm in Durham, and has a B.S. in Agriculture from Cornell University, NY and is currently pursuing her Master Thesis at NC State in our program as well.

Emma is a Pittsburgh native, but she’s excited to explore and become a part of North Carolina. Throughout her academic career, she dove into subjects such as soil ecology, development sociology, GIS, and sustainable food systems. Her broad range of interests as well as her passion for safe, equitable food systems have led her to grow an interest in extension work. She’s excited to gather more knowledge and gain new skills as a research technician in our program.

 

Ph.D. Student:

Our intern Kyle Freedman will join our group in Fall 2021 as PhD Student.

Master Students:

Emma Volk

(Write Emma an email)

Education: 2019: B.S. in International Agriculture and Soil Science

Appointments:

  • 2017: Communication Fellow at Wildlife Conversation Society
  • 2018-2019: Farm Manager at Dilmum Hill Student Farm, NY.
  • 2019-2020: Research Technician at Dep. of Horticulture NC State

 

Master Thesis: January 2021 – December 2022: Evaluation of weed and pathogen control of soil disinfestation with steam, CaO and Allyl-Isothiocyanate in strawberry.

Background: Emma is a Pittsburgh native, but she’s excited to explore and become a part of North Carolina. Throughout her academic career, she dove into subjects such as soil ecology, development sociology, GIS, and sustainable food systems. Her broad range of interests as well as her passion for safe, equitable food systems have led her to grow an interest in extension work. She’s excited to gather more knowledge and gain new skills as a research technician in our program.

 

Austin Wrenn

(Write Austin an email)

Education: 2015: B.S. in Agricultural Business Management, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

Appointments:

  • 2016-2017: Greenhouse and Production Manager for Sundrop Farms, TN.
  • 2017-2018: Research Technician at Dep. of Horticulture NC State
  • since 2018: Independent farmer and vice-president of the NC strawberry association

 

Master Thesis: August 2020 – July 2022: Substrate based performance of strawberry cultivars in hydroponic growing systems.

Background: Austin is a North Carolina native and has decided to focus on restoring his family-owned farm in Zebulon, NC, which was a strawberry producer for several decades. Before he joined NC State, he was working as a greenhouse manager for strawberry production at Sundrop Farms. Austin gathered international experience in Europe and Australia and is very well connected and respected in a growing global controlled environment berry production world. He is an active member of the NC strawberry association, a volunteer firefighter in Zebulon and belongs to the new generation of young, passionate and forward-thinking farmers in North Carolina.

 

Amanda Lay

(Write Amanda an email)

Education: 2015-2019: B.S. in Horticultural Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh NC, USA

Master Thesis: August 2019- December 2021: Pre-plant fertilizer optimization for annual hill strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa cv. ‘Camarosa’) production systems in North Carolina.

Background: Amanda grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, then attended North Carolina State University for a Bachelors of Science in Horticulture. Amanda came to NC State to study production systems and focus on sustainability. She gained an interest in researching strawberry production after taking the small fruits production course offered by the department. Currently, her research focuses on nitrogen rates in preplant fertilizer and the mechanisms behind freeze damage in strawberry flowers. Her long term career goals include eventually earning a Ph.D. and becoming a researcher and extension agent focusing on production systems.

Outreach Assistant:

Rania Hassan

Rania joined our team in October 2018 as undergraduate student and laboratory manager. Rania is a Durham native and graduated in 2019 with a Bachelors in environmental science with a concentration in environmental policy from NC State. Currently she is assisting in our outreach program.

Internships:

Kyle Freedman 

Kyle has joined our team in June 2020 as intern and is currently a graduate student at UC Davis in International Agriculture. Kyle works with us in his free time on a grapevine conditioning project and will join our group in Fall 2021 as PhD Student.

Undergraduate Students:

Following hourly part-time positions will be available for Work study students:

  • Laboratory Assistant (Start in April 2020)
  • Social Media and Web Page Assistant (Start in August 2020)

Please contact me directly if you are interested.

Alumni:

Xiaonan Shi (Write Xiaonan an email). Xiaonan did graduate with an M.S. (Master Thesis) in June 2020 from our program. She achieved a B.S. in Horticulture in 2018 from the China Agriculture University in Beijing, one of the top 20 agriculture universities in the world. Xiaonan is currently pursuing a PhD in the controlled environments research group at NC State.

Owen Washam. Owen was the ‘good saint’ and the cornerstone of our laboratories for more than two years. He did establish protocols to assess levels of Pythium ssp. propagules in soil, and a plating assay to assess levels of Metharrizium anisopliae in soil. He also assisted in qPCRs and RNA extractions. Owen is now Graduate Researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Abby Whitaker. Abby worked in our group as a full time technician in summer 2018. Today, she brings value to the NC Extension Service and to Rockingham Co. as extension livestock and forage agent.

Tekan Rana (Write Tekan an email). Tekan joined our team in August 2018 and graduated in December 2020 with an MHS. Since January 2021, he pursues a PhD at the Department of Plant Pathology at University of Georgia.

 


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