Gund Fellow, Associate Professor, Department of Plant and Soil Science

Yolanda Chen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is interested in the origins of agriculture, and how current and historical human activities shape the emergence of insect as pests. She studies the ecology and evolution of insects within agroecosystems to seek insight on how to “farm with nature” within a globalized world. She has published widely on crop domestication and its impact on insect-plant interactions, invasions of insect pests in agroecosystems, rapid evolution of insect pests in agroecosystems, and ecological pest management.

Her lab is currently studying: 1) how the origins of agriculture in Mesoamerica have shaped insect biodiversity, 2) mechanisms of rapid evolution for the Colorado potato beetle, and 3) exploiting ecology to help manage the invasive swede midge, a devastating pest for organic brassica crops in the Northeastern United States.



  • Chen, Y. H., L. R. Shapiro, B. Benrey, A. Cibrián-Jaramillo. 2017. Back to the origin: in situ studies are needed to understand selection during crop diversification. Special Issue: Ecology and Evolution of Plant under Domestication in the Neotropics. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, section Agroecology and Land Use Systems. 18 October.
  • Crossley, M. S., Y. H. Chen, R. L. Groves, and S. D. Schoville. 2017. Landscape genomics of Colorado potato beetle provides evidence of polygenic adaptation to insecticides. Molecular Ecology DOI: 10.1111/mec.14339
  • Alyokhin, A. and Y. H. Chen. 2017. Adaptation to toxic hosts as a factor in the evolution of insecticide resistance. Current Opinion in Insect Science 21:33-38.
  • Chen, Y. H., R. Gols, and B. Benrey. 2015. Crop domestication and its impact on naturally selected trophic interactions. Annual Review of Entomology. 60:35-58.
  • Izzo, V., J. Armstrong, D. J. Hawthorne, Y. H. Chen. 2014. Geographic variation in winter hardiness of a common agricultural pest, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, the Colorado potato beetle. Evolutionary Ecology 28:505-520.


Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Insect ecology, evolution, agroecology, population genetics, organic and sustainable agriculture, international


  • PhD, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley
  • BSc, Natural Resource Management, Rutgers University