Faculty

Dean Volenberg

Dean Volenberg, PhD

Director – Grape and Wine Institute
Assistant Extension Professor
volenbergd@missouri.edu
573 882-0476

As GWI director, Dean works closely with other members of the viticulture and enology program to transfer knowledge gained through GWI research to grape producers and winery operators. Dean's applied research viticulture program examines the impact of canopy management, vine balance, and integrated pest management practices on grape quality. Although his research is often directed at specific industry concerns having long term implications, his Extension program is dynamic and responsive to seasonal industry needs including grape production and processing.


Megan Hall, PhD

Viticulture Research Leader
Assistant Research Professor
HallMegan@missouri.edu
573 882-0669

Megan's current research focuses on characterizing the grape microbiome, both epiphytic and endophytic communities, as well as understanding how those communities can be manipulated through management strategies. Characterization of these communities takes place using qPCR and Illumina sequencing technology. Additional research projects conducted in her lab include understanding the role of Drosophila fruit flies in the sour rot complex (a late-season bunch rot affecting grapes close to harvest), and determining the effect of micronutrient foliar applications on vine yield and phytohormone levels.


Misha Kwasniewski, PhD

Enology Research Leader
Assistant Research Professor
kwasniewskim@missouri.edu
573 882-6656

Misha's research includes applying analytical chemistry (LC-MS (Q-TOF), GC-MS, HPLC) to the characterization of factors impacting wine flavor development, from the vineyard through storage, development of new analytical methods, and equipment appropriate for small to mid-sized winery and working with the Missouri grape and wine industry to optimize processing procedures for cultivars grown in the state.


Staff

Connie Liu

Connie Liu

Enology Research Specialist – Kwasniewski Lab
liugw@missouri.edu
573-882-6656

Connie is responsible for day-to-day equipment operations and upkeep, training graduate students and conducting experiments in the enology laboratory.


Zhiwei Fang

Zhiwei Fang

Senior Research Specialist – Hall Lab
fangz@missouri.edu

Interested in identifying the grape microorganisms, both epiphytes and endophytes, and their effects on the grape quality.


Maimaiti Maimaitiyiming

Maimaiti (Matt) Maimaitiyiming

Post Doctoral Fellow – Kwasniewski Lab
maimaitiyimingm@missouri.edu

Matt is an expert in remote sensing and he uses ground-, airborne-, and satellite-based observations for characterizing vine physiology, which is critical for berry quality and yield. He exploits a combination of remote sensing data, advanced machine learning/deep learning techniques, and field measurements for developing robust prediction models for vine productivity, ultimately providing applied approaches to boost grape and wine industry. Currently, he is working on several projects, collecting remote sensing data as well as assisting with other aspect of project management. His primary focus is on the SWC, however, we have also been collecting data in other sites related to temporal changes as well as looking for spectral signatures to identify molybdenum deficient vineyards.


Graduate students

Emily Serra

Emily Serra

Graduate Research Assistant – Hall Lab
emily.serra@mail.missouri.edu

My research focuses on grapevine trunk disease (GTD) which is an emerging fungal disease complex that affects vineyards worldwide. GTD causes general vine decline and can lead to eventual death of the vine. The fungal pathogens typically enter through pruning wounds and can cause cankers to form. Previous research has shown that GTD affects mature vines older than 12-years-old but little is known about the effects of GTD in young vines. My research seeks to understand the effects of GTD pathogens on young vines and explore the relationship between trunk splitting and GTD.


Patrick Kenney

Patrick Kenney

Graduate Research Assistant – Hall Lab
pmk2ng@mail.missouri.edu

A major challenge facing viticulture is managing the onset of cluster diseases that affect the overall health of grapes and have a negative impact on wine quality. My primary research focus is on sour rot, which involves a complex interaction among yeast and bacterial strains present in the environment partnered with the persistence of fruit flies. My objective is the understand how fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) influence the incidence and severity of sour rot and more importantly, the effects that adults and larva have on grapes as adults lay eggs and larvae feed within clusters. With understanding the etiology of sour rot we can better comprehend methodologies behind proper management and prevention of outbreaks through the maturation process; incorporating effective and sustainable practices for vineyards in Missouri. Trust me, it is not the smells that brought me to this project!


Mani Awale

Mani Awale

Graduate Research Assistant – Kwasniewski Lab
maybd@mail.missouri.edu

Due to their disease tolerance and cold hardy nature, interspecific hybrid grapes are widely grown in the Midwest, including Missouri. However, the aroma profile of these hybrids are unique and generally less popular in comparison to the V. vinifera grapes. Mani Awale's research focus on identifying the grape derived free and bound volatiles in hybrid grapes and wines, using the more inclusive non-targeted metabolomics and understanding the role of physiology, different rootstocks and water stress on the aroma precursors in grapes and wines.


Alex Fredrickson

Alex Fredrickson

Graduate Research Assistant – Kwasniewski Lab
ajfpvn@mail.missouri.edu

Tannins play a crucial role in the flavor development and stability of red wines, which directly relates to quality and the ability to age a wine. The majority of red grapes grown in the state of Missouri are hybrid red cultivars that have trouble extracting and retaining tannins due to mostly unknown tannin binding agents. Alex's research focuses on understanding the compounds in these red cultivars that may impact tannin concentrations in a finished wine.

Alex's extension work focuses on enology education through workshops that focus on specific issues affecting wineries throughout the state and general winemaking education. Along with workshops, Alex also helps run and maintain the research winery at the University of Missouri-Columbia.


Harper Smith

Harper Smith

Graduate Research Assistant – Co-advised by Volenberg and Finke
hfs5h4@mail.missouri.edu

I'm a master's student advised by Dr. Dean Volenberg and Dr. Debbie Finke in the insect ecology lab. My research is focused on a virus in grapevines called Grapevine Red Blotch virus, and I'm working to identify the insect vector here in Missouri. I work in infected vineyards in and around Hermann and Columbia studying the vector ecology of this disease.

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