Melissa Fierke

Melissa K. Fierke

Associate Professor

135 Illick Hall
1 Forestry Dr.
Syracuse, New York 13210

Phone: (315) 470-6809/470-6743



  • B.S. Environmental Chemistry, B.S. Environmental Biology, Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, Arkansas.

  • M.S. Fisheries Science, M.S. Environmental Science (Water Resources), Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
  • Ph.D. Entomology (Minor: Biology), University of Arkansas, 2006.

Graduate Opportunities

If you are interested in becoming a part of our lab at ESF, please send me A) a short statement about yourself and your interests (background, goals/ambitions, reason(s) for your interest in ESF and why you would want to do research in my lab, as well as any questions you might have), B) a copy of your Curriculum Vitae, and C) your GPA and GRE scores (include the raw scores and percentages).

Research Technicians Senior Research Support Specialist
John Welsh
Rory Fencl
Trupti Indurkar
Undergraduate Research Assistants
Funmi Afelumo
Katie Walters
Ian Newcomb
Jared Carpentier
Ryan Crandall


Current Graduate Advisees

Graduate Advisees

Dana BrennanDana Brennan

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke
  • Area of Study: Chemical Ecology

Michael JonesMichael Jones

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke
  • Area of Study: Entomology
  • Undergraduate Institute: University of Calif Davis (Environmental Science)


Graduate Research Topic
Managing invasive forest pests, using emerald ash borer as a model insect

Favorite Quote
"If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can't, you're right." -Henry Ford

Home Page
Web Link

Nicholas PiedmonteNicholas Piedmonte

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke and Shaw,s
  • Area of Study: Fish & Wildlife Biology & Management
  • Undergraduate Institute: SUNY College at Geneseo

Graduate Research Topic
Ecology and distribution of ticks and tick-borne disease in Onondaga County, New York

Jane RaffaldiJane Raffaldi

  • Degree Sought: MPS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke
  • Area of Study: Conservation Biology

Giuseppe TumminelloGiuseppe Tumminello

  • Degree Sought: MSC
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Fierke and Volk
  • Area of Study: EFB Conservation Biology
  • Undergraduate Institute: Cornell University

Graduate Research Topic
Insect pollinators associated with shrub-willow biomass crop.


Bekka Brodie

Past Graduate Students

  • Christopher Foelker - PhD, December 2015 Biotic resistance to Sirex noctilio acroass multiple spatial scales
  • Stephanie Nick - MPS, December 2015 Invasive species management through interpretation, education, and outreach: Creating an interpretive panel
  • Michael Parisio - MS, December 2014 Biological control of emerald ash borer: assessment and applications of current parasitoid monitoring methods
  • Joelle Chille-Cale - MPS, August 2014 New biological and cultural control methods of the non-native nursery pest Xylosandrus germanus
  • Gregory Russo - MPS, May 2013 Monitoring and management of emerald ash borer in the eastern Finger Lakes region and Rochester, NY
  • Dominick Skabeikis - MS, May 2012 Male pheromone of the pine sawyer beetles, Monochamus scuellatus (Say) and Monochamus notatus (Drury) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae): Production, response and circadian rhythms
  • Christopher Standley - MS, April 2012 Emergence phenology and ecological interactions between the exotic Sirex noctilio, native siricids, and a shared guild of native parasitoids
  • Kimberly Dean - MS, April 2012 Parasitoids and pathogens of emerald ash borer: Implications for biological control at all life stages
  • Warren Hellman - MS, April 2011 Evaluating use of the native digger wasp Cerceris fumipennis (Say) as a sampling method for New York Buprestidae
  • Peter Rockermann - MS, April 2011 Implications for invasion by emerald ash borer in New York: Ash abundance in riparian areas and moth assemblages in upland and lowland forests with high and low ash densities
  • Patrick Eager - MS, April 2010 An analysis of the Sirex noctilio Fabricius (Hymenoptera: Siricidae) - parasitoid complex in New York State.

Past Research Technicians and UG Assistants

  • Brad Winkleman
  • Richard Rich
  • Terrance Caviness
  • Emily Proutey
  • David Nesbit
  • David Bullis
  • John Welsh
  • Funmi Afelumo
  • Katie Walters
  • Rurick Fencl
  • Elizabeth Giglio
  • Elizabeth Keyser
  • Candi Finger
  • Katie McKeever
  • Greg Williams

Courses Taught

  • Systematic Entomology - Spring Even Years
  • Organismal Biology and Ecology EFB 101 - Fall
  • Forest Health Monitoring - Maymester Odd years
  • Core Course for Graduate Students - Fall and Spring


D. Skabeikis, S.A. Teale, M.K. Fierke. 2016. Circadian rhythms in Monochamus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae): production of and response to a male-produced aggregation pheromone. Journal of Environmental Entomology. Accepted.

D. Skabeikis, M.K. Fierke, S.A. Teale. 2016. Field response of Monochamus scutellatus and Monochamus notatus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) to the male-produced pheromone, 2-(Undecyloxy)-ethanol, and host volatiles. Journal of Economic Entomology. Accepted.

C.J. Foelker. 2016. Associations between Sirex noctilio development, bluestain fungi, and pine host species in North America. Ecological Entomology. Accepted.

C.J. Foelker, C. Standley, D. Parry, M.K. Fierke. 2016. Complex ecological relationships among an assemblage of indigenous hymenopteran parasitoids, the exotic woodwasp Sirex noctilio, and a native cogener. Canadian Entomologist. Accepted.

C.J. Foelker, C. Standley, M.K. Fierke, D. Parry, C. Whipps. 2016. Host tissue identification for cryptic hymenopteran parasitoids associated with Sirex noctilio. Agric. and Forest Entomology. 18:91-94.

C.E. Rutledge, M.K. Fierke, P. Careless, C. Teerling. 2015. Degree day model for emergence of Cerceris fumipennis in Northeastern America based on field observations. Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

M.K. Fierke, C.J. Foelker. 2014. Scorpionflies: Unusual forest insects. New York Forest Landowner. 52:3.

W. E. Hellman, M.K. Fierke. 2014. Evaluating buprestid preference and sampling efficiency of Cerceris fumipennis using morphometric data. J. Insect Science. 14:4.

M.K. Fierke, M. Whitmore, C.J. Foelker, J.D. Vandenberg, J. Carlson. 2013. Delimitation and management of emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), at an outlier infestation in southwestern New York State. Can. Entomol. 145:577-587.

C. Foelker, J. Vandenberg, M. Whitmore, M.K. Fierke. 2013. Modeling Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) within-tree colonization patterns and development of a subsampling technique. Environ. Entomol. 42:532-538.

C.E. Rutledge, M.K. Fierke, P. Careless, T. Worthley. 2013. First detection of Agrilus planipennis in Connecticut made by monitoring Cerceris fumipennis (Crabronidae) colonies. Journal of Hymenoptera Research. 32:75-81.

M.K. Fierke, D.D. Skabeikis, J.G. Millar, S.A. Teale, J.S. McElfresh, L.M. Hanks. 2012. Identification of a male-produced aggregation pheromone for Monochamus scutellatus scuellatus and an attractant for the cogener Monochamus notatus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 105:2029-2034.

L. Haavik, D. Crook, M.K. Fierke, L. Galligan, F. Stephen. 2012. Partial life tables from three generations of Enaphalodes rufulus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Envir. Entomo. 41:1311-1321.

C. Standley, R. Hoebeck, D. Parry, D. Allen, M.K. Fierke. 2012. Detection and identification of two new native hymenopteran parasitoids associated with exotic Sirex noctilio in North America. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Washington. 114: 238-249.

K. Dean, J. Vandenberg, M. Griggs, L. Beaur, M.K. Fierke. 2012. Assessing susceptibility of hymenopteran parasitoids of the emerald ash borer to the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. J. Insect Pathology. 109: 303-306.

P.T. Eager, D.C. Allen, J.L. Frair, M.K. Fierke 2011. Within-tree distributions of the Sirex noctilio-parasitoid complex and development of an optimal sampling scheme. Envir. Entomol. 40:1266-1275.

M.K. Fierke, D. Nowak, R. Hofstetter. 2011. Forest Health Monitoring. In Castello, J. and S. Teale (eds) Forest Health textbook. Cambridge Press.

C. Rutledge, W. Hellman, C. Teerling, M.K. Fierke. 2011. Two novel prey families for the buprestid-hunting wasp Cerceris fumipennis Say (Hymenoptera: Crabonidae). Coleopterists Bulletin. The Coleopterists Bulletin. 65:194-196.

M. K. Fierke, F.M. Stephen. 2010. Dendroentomological evidence associated with an outbreak of the wood-boring beetle Enaphalodes rufulus. Can. J. For. Res. 40: 679–686.

L. Haavik, M.K. Fierke, F.M. Stephen. 2010. Factors affecting suitability of Quercus rubra as hosts for Enaphalodes rufulus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Env. Entom. 39:520-527.

M.C. Whitmore, M.K. Fierke. 2010. Emerald ash borer is now in New York. New York Forest Owner. 48:14-15.

M.B. Kelley, M.K. Fierke, F.M. Stephen. 2009. Identification and distribution of Armillaria species associated with an oak decline event in the Arkansas Ozarks. J. For. Path. 39:397-404.

Scanga, S., M.K. Fierke. 2008. "Say goodbye to sleep": perspectives on building a family and a career at the same time.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 6:448-449.

L. Haavik, F. Stephen, M.K. Fierke, V. Salisbury, S. Leavitt, S. Billings. 2008. Dendrochronological parameters of northern red oak (Quercus rubra L. (Fagaceae)) infested with red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)). For. Ecol. Manag. 255:1501-1509.

M.K. Fierke, F.M. Stephen. 2008. Callus formation and bark moisture as potential physical defenses of northern red oak, Quercus rubra, against red oak borer, Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Can. Entomol. 140:149-157.

M.K. Fierke, M.B. Kelley, F.M. Stephen. 2007. Site and Stand Variables Influencing Red Oak Borer, Enaphalodes rufulus, (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae), Population Densities and Tree Mortality. Forest Ecol. Manag. 247: 227-236.

M.K. Fierke, F.M. Stephen. 2007. Red Oak Borer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) Flight Trapping in the Ozark National Forest, Arkansas. Florida Entomol. 90:488-494.

D.J. Crook, M.K. Fierke, D.L. Kinney, V.B. Salisbury, F.M. Stephen. 2007. Optimization of Sampling Methods for Within-tree Populations of Red Oak Borer, Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Environ. Entomol. 36:589-594.

M.K. Fierke, J.B. Kauffman. 2006. Invasive species influence riparian plant diversity along a black cottonwood successional gradient, Willamette River, Oregon. Natural Areas J. 26:376-382.

M.K. Fierke, J.B. Kauffman. 2006. Riverscape patterns of riparian plant diversity along a black cottonwood successional gradient, Willamette River, Oregon. Plant Ecol. 185:85-95.

M.K. Fierke, Kinney, D.L., Salisbury, V.B., Crook, D.J., and Stephen, F.M. 2005. A rapid estimation procedure for within-tree populations of red oak borer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Forest Ecol. Manag. 215:163–168.

M.K. Fierke; D. L. Kinney; V. B. Salisbury; D. J. Crook; F. M. Stephen. 2005. Development and comparison of intensive and extensive sampling methods and preliminary within-tree population estimates of red oak borer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Environ. Entomol. 34:184-192.

M.K. Fierke, J.B. Kauffman. 2005. Structural dynamics of riparian forests along a black cottonwood successional gradient. Forest Ecol. Manag. 215:149-162.

Professional Memberships

  • Entomological Society of America
  • Entomological Society of Canada
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Society of American Foresters

Professional Service

Reviewer for Forest Ecology & Management, Journal of Insect Behavior, Environmental Entomology, Economic Entomology, Journal of Arboriculture & Urban Forestry, Canadian Entomologist, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Journal of Chemical Ecology, Oecologia.

Honors and Awards

  • 2014 President's Award for Public Service and Outreach, SUNY ESF
  • 2014 Program Cooperator Award, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Onondaga County
  • 2013 Distinguished Teacher Award, SUNY ESF's Undergraduate Student Association
  • 2013 President's Award for Public Service and Outreach, SUNY ESF
  • 2013 Utica College Womyn's Herstory Month Keynote Speaker: Aspiring to be an intential model: mother, scientist, mentor, and teacher
  • 2007 Roger F. Anderson Southern Forest Insect Work Conference Outstanding Graduate Student.
  • 2005 University of Arkansas Department of Entomology Isely Outstanding Ph.D student award.

Selected Presentations

M.K. Fierke. Aspiring to be an Intentional Model: Mother, Scientist, Mentor, and Teacher. Keynote Speaker, Utica College Womyn's Herstory Month. 3/2013.

M.K. Fierke, C. Rutledge. The Thin Green Line: Emerald Ash Borer in the Northeast. Eastern Branch Meeting, Entomological Society of America. 3/2013.

M.K. Fierke. Peeling, Splitting and Rearing to Know: emerald ash borer and Sirex noctilio research in New York State. Presented at multiple venues:

  • Hobart and Willim Smith Biology Seminar Series, 10/2014
  • SUNY Buffalo Graduate Seminar Series, 2/2014
  • SUNY New Paltz School of Science and Engineering Colloquium, 4/2014
  • Cornell University, Department of Entomology, Geneva Campus. 3/2012
  • Cornell University, Jugatae Seminar Series, Dept of Entomology, Ithaca NY. 2/2012
  • Utica College Biology Seminar Series, 10/2011

M.K. Fierke, K. Gandhi, M. Ayers. Sirex noctilio: biology, parasitism and native siricids. 5/2011. North American Forest Insect Work Conference. Portland, OR.

M.K. Fierke, P. Eager, C. Standley, D. Parry, D. Allen. Splitting and rearing to know: new insights into the siricid-parasitoid complex. Presented at multiple venues:

  • 5/2011, Sirex noctilio Research Updates Meeting, Riverdale, MD.
  • 3/2011, Eastern Branch Meeting of the Entomol. Soc. of America. Harrisburg, PA.
  • 1/2011, USDA Annual Interagency Research Forum on Invasive Species, Annapolis, MD.

M.K. Fierke, J. Vandenburg, M. Whitmore, J. Carlson. Girdling and peeling to know: emerald ash borer research in New York. Presented at multiple venues:

  • Eastern Branch Meeting of the Entomol. Soc. of America. 3/2011, Harrisburg, PA.
  • New York Society of American Foresters Annual Meeting, 1/2011, Syracuse NY.

M.K. Fierke, P. Eager, P. Rockermann, W. Hellman. 2009. Finding a niche in northeastern forest entomology – emerald ash borer and Sirex noctilio . Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Indianapolis, IN.

M.K. Fierke. 2008. Emerald Ash Borer: Status, Biology, Impacts and Current Research. Invasive Non-Native Forest Pest Conference, Ithaca NY.

M.K. Fierke, C. Landis, M. O’Brien, J. Riddle, N. Werner, R. Germain. 2008. Economic and ecological impacts of emerald ash borer and Sirex noctilio. Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Milwaukee, WI.

F. M. Stephen, M.K. Fierke, J. M Guldin, L.J. Haavik, J. J. Riggins and J. A. Tullis. 2008. Red oak borer as an agent of change in Arkansas forests: an historical perspective. International Congress of Entomology, Durban, South Africa.

M.K. Fierke, F.M. Stephen. 2008. Red oak borer research in upland oak-hickory forests. Eastern Branch meeting, Entomological Society of America, Syracuse NY, March 2008.


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