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Research Team

Kimberly D Gwinn

Explore BiGG Data Program Director

Dr. Gwinn is the Program Director for the Explore BiGG Data REU. She is responsible for overall program management, including coordinating the efforts of the co-PIs and overseeing the work of the students in the summer. Dr. Gwinn is the Coordinator of Herbert College of Agriculture Undergraduate Research Program and Honors@Herbert

Photo Kimberly Gwinn
Kimberly Gwinn

Melissa Cregger

Melissa Cregger
Melissa Cregger

Joseph L Donaldson

Explore BiGG Data Program Evaluator

Dr. Donaldson is the Program Evaluator for the Explore BiGG Data REU. He directs all evaluation data collection, analysis, and reporting including acquiring and managing the psychometric instruments used in the program. Dr. Donaldson is a teacher, scholar, program evaluator, and researcher at North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences where he coordinates the undergraduate major and minor in Extension Education.

Joseph Donaldson

Scott Emrich

Explore BiGG Bioinformatics Mentor

Dr. Emrich is one of two Bioinformatics Mentors for the Explore BiGG Data REU. He is responsible for providing training and advice for the Fellows in appropriate software and bioinformatics analysis methods. Dr. Emrich is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the Tickle College of Engineering with formal appointments in UT interdisciplinary graduate programs and less formal links with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (UT) and Entomology (UTIA).

Scott Emrich
Scott Emrich

Becky Trout Fryxell

Explore BiGG Data Research Mentor

Dr. Trout Fryxell, a medical veterinary entomologist, will serve as the biology-based Research Mentor for the Explore BiGG Data REU Stable Fly Genomics Team. Her research program integrates vector management and control, describes vector life histories, delineates risk factors for pathogen and vectors, and characterizes vector populations using genetics (microbial, population, and landscape).

Becky Trout Fryxell


Denita Hadziabdic-Guerry

Explore BiGG Data Faculty Mentor

Dr. Hadziabdic-Guerry is the Faculty Member for the Explore BiGG Data REU. She studies population genetics of fungal plant pathogens, population biology, forest health, forest pathology, and diversity and conservation efforts of native plants. Her program’s main goal is to utilize novel genetic and genomic tools to integrate molecular data into pragmatic management decisions and provide solutions for preservation of biodiversity, conservation of native species and overall tree improvement programs.

Denita Hadziabdic-Guerry

Sarah L Lebeis

Explore BiGG Data Program Mentor

Dr. Lebeis is a Mentor for the Explore BiGG Data REU. She is an Assistant Professor in the Microbiology Department at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Lebeis is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award studying plant microbiome assembly and function.

Sarah Lebeis

Bode A Olukolu

Explore BiGG Data Faculty Mentor

Dr. Olukolu is a faculty member for the Explore BiGG Data REU. He is responsible for providing training and advice for the fellows in bioinformatics, genetics, and genomics. Dr. Olukolu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, UTIA. He teaches a course in “statistical genetics and genomics, and his research interests includes quantitative genetics, genomics, plant-pathogen/plant-microbiome interactions, and bioinformatic/ analytical tool development.

Bode Olukolu

Bonnie H Ownley

Explore BiGG Data Research Mentor

Dr. Ownley, a plant pathologist specializing in biology-based control of plant pathogens, will provide guidance for the collection of data for a future Explore BiGG Data Research Program on the impact of microbial biostimulants on plant health. Her research program integrates biological and cultural control of soilborne plant pathogens, microbial ecology of beneficial plant bacteria and fungi, and mechanisms of microbial biological control.

Bonnie Ownley

Margaret Staton

Explore BiGG Data Computational Genomics Mentor

Dr. Staton is a computational genomics mentor for the Explore BiGG Data REU. She is responsible for providing training and advice for the fellows in appropriate software and bioinformatics analysis methods. Dr. Staton is an Assistant Professor of Entomology and Plant Pathology in the Herbert College of Agriculture with broad interest in many ‘omics’ technologies as applied to plant and microbial ecosystems and agricultural systems.

Margaret Staton

Carrie Ann Stephens

Explore BiGG Data Leadership Educator

Dr. Stephens is a professor and leadership educator in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications at The University of Tennessee. She will coordinate and deliver leadership training for the Explore BiGG scholars. Dr. Stephens is KAI certified, as well as a Strengths Finder Coach. Her research and teaching focus areas are women in leadership, teaching and learning (as it relates to leadership), and leadership development in higher education. 

Carrie Stephens Photo
Carrie Ann Stephens