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Faculty in Focus - Punya Nachappa

Links to Punya's Youtube Video

Punya Nachappa joined COAS’s Department of Biology in 2012. She specializes in entomology and plant pathology, specifically soybean insect vectors and diseases. Currently, Nachappa and her student research assistants are studying a new viral disease, soybean necrosis virus, to identify which insects transmit the disease and develop new management or control practices.

The United States is the world’s top producer of soybeans and Indiana’s production is 4th in the country. Nachappa has received support from the regional soybean growers association and federally from the USDA for her work: “My work has been supported for two years now by the Indiana Soybean alliance, who have supported all of my projects. This sort of research not only supports the academic community, but also the growers, because they want to reduce the pests and diseases.” Nachappa was awarded nearly $250,000 in 2013 and 2014. She was also invited to present her research at local soybean growers meetings, such a meeting held in Fort Wayne in August 2014, and at research institutions including the University of Georgia and University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Nachappa is fortunate to have an array of funded student workers who assist with all research activities. She believes her research is important, but also notes that she “cannot stress how important graduate and undergraduate students are in a research program.” Currently, several undergraduates—Johnathan Danielson, Dominic Snowball, Lee Daniels, Sameha Albayyari, and Patrick Selig—and four graduate students—Chris Culkin, Stacy Keogh, Jinlong Han, and Peter Saya—are working with Nachappa in her lab. These students gain experience and recognition for their work: in 2014, Culkin won first place in a poster presentation at the Annual Entomological Society meeting and at the ORESP/Sigma Xi Research Symposium at IPFW. Culkin and Saya presented their research at an entomology meeting in Portland, Oregon in fall 2014 as well.

As the educational benefits of student research is receiving increased attention, Nachappa and her research assistants provide a fantastic example of why. To learn more about becoming a biology student researcher or more about the biology department, contact For more on Punya Nachappa, watch the full interview, a recent Purdue University video, or visit her website.