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Home » Discover Rackham » Student Spotlight: Theresa Ong

Theresa’s research combines agro ecology and theoretical ecology in urban agriculture. Her dissertation focuses on the migration and dispersal of pests in an agro ecosystem and how the urban landscape affects the dispersal of pests through the environment.

Her fieldwork is in Ann Arbor at Project Grow community garden sites, as the dispersed garden plots provide a great space for urban agriculture. She places pots at garden sites and studies aphid distribution from them, using satellite imagery to test green space and the migration patterns based on genetic composition of the aphid populations found at specific sites.

A secondary component of her research involves using sticky traps on telephone poles to determine the presence of aphids and their disbursement throughout the city. She then uses satellite imagery to find garden plots and determine migration patterns.

“Ann Arbor has a great community of people with a passion for sustainability and sustainable food issues. By enhancing knowledge and informing communities, we can create patterns for change, more sustainable food options, and better lives for people in the community.”

“I am privileged to be here. My family moved to the U.S. from Malaysia so my brothers and I could get an excellent education.” Rackham funding allows her to hire undergraduate assistants for her research projects, giving them much-needed experience and helping her use her resources wisely.