Natural Enemy Management and Applications

NEMA Lab Goals

The goal of NEMA Lab is to give the opportunity for students to develop experience with research and community engagement. NEMA Lab research focuses on understanding how insects interact with their environment and how to use that information to sustainably manage natural and agricultural systems. Our lab addresses these research questions through a combination of applied and basic research in the field and the lab. We also share our knowledge with the community through engagement and outreach activities.

Nematode Photo

Soil Ecology and Biodiversity

Soil is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth and is teeming with life. The NEMA lab develops new technologies to study this diversity and link soil diversity to ecosystem health.

NEMA Invertebrate Management Photo

Invertebrate Management

Insects and other invertebrates can be devastating pests of agricultural crops and forests. The NEMA Lab develops environmentally friendly biological control strategies to manage these pests.

Community Engagment

The NEMA Lab uses insects to connect K-12 students to STEM concepts through hands-on workshops, summer camps, and in-school visits.

In Partnership with Innovative Organizations

NC ArboretumAmerican Chestnut FoundationBurroughs Wellcome FundBuncombe County SchoolsPAGE

Invertebrate Management | Soil Biodiversity and Conservation

Smart SOD

The NEMA Lab is working with the California Institute for Biodiversity and collaborators in Europe on developing new capabilities for detecting, isolating, and quantifying organisms is the soil and in marine benthic communities. We use the Smart Soil Organism Detector to extract organisms directly from their substrate, separate them using flow cytometry, then identify and sort them for further study.

Organism Extraction and Sorting

The Smart SOD can extract organisms directly from substrate efficiently then sort them into well plates.

Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are used to identify organisms processed by Smart SOD.


NEMA is working with collaborators in California to quantify soil biodiversity and collaborators in Europe to understand diversity in benthic communities and the influence of microplastics.

Smart SOD

Community Engagement

Insects Everywhere

Insects Everywhere is a Burroughs Wellcome Funded program working to close the STEM achievement gap for Migrant Children in western North Carolina through an annual summer camp program, school-year field trips, and roundtable discussions that engage students in STEM concepts through the lens of insects, expose students to academic and career opportunities in STEM, and prepare students to meet the challenges facing them as they pursue higher education and STEM careers.

STEM Inquiry & Problem Solving

Insects Everywhere develops students’ scientific inquiry, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills through individual and team-based, experiential STEM activities.

Training in Technology

Insects Everywhere introduces students to cutting edge technology, scientific equipment, and instrumentation.

Preparing Students for the Future

Facilitate college and STEM career readiness events in which students and their families are provided with key information to enable student success

Preparing Students for the Future

Facilitate college and STEM career readiness events in which students and their families are provided with key information to enable student success

Insects Everywhere Engagement

Invertebrate Management | Soil Biodiversity and Conservation

The Lesser of Two Weevils

Through recent hybridization efforts, blight resistant chestnuts are being planted across the eastern US. Accompanying this rise in chestnut trees is a resurgence in rapidly spreading pest: The Lesser Chestnut Weevil ( Curculio sayi ). NEMA Lab is working with The American Chestnut Foundation to understand the presence of this weevil on chestnut hybrids and understand how the new chestnut hybrids influence other insect communities as well.

Populations are Increasing

Populations of the Lesser Chestnut weevil can incease incredibly rapidly reaching 100% infestation in as little as two years potentially ruining harvests.

NEMA Lab is Developing Management for the Lesser Chestnut Weevil

At NEMA lab we are developing monitoring and biological control based techniques to control the Lesser Chestnut Weevil.

Interested?

See our recent publications on Monitoring and Biological Control of the Lesser Chestnut Weevil.

Chestnut with weevil emerging

Community Engagement

All About Bugs

The NEMA Lab works with local schools and community organizations to bring STEM Education to K-12 students through the lens of insects. Using a variety of hands-on activities that engage all the senses, K-12 students engage with the fascinating world of insects while learning about ecology and evolution.

STEM Education Using Insects

K-12 students learn about concepts like ecology and evolution through hands-on activites with insects.

Student Led

All About Bugs is led and developed by UNC Asheville Undergraduates who are passionate about bugs and interested in pursuing careers in education.

Engaging Students across Western North Carolina

Working with community partners, we have engaged hundreds of students in All About Bugs events.

All About Bugs Community Engagement

Invertebrate Management


The Bee Hotel, Pollinator Garden, and the Butterfly Garden at University of North Carolina at Asheville serve as a unique resource for both the university and the community to learn about the importance of insects and the interactions between them and the environment. Pollinating insects promote plant diversity, increase resilience and stability of ecosystems, and maintain reproductive success of a majority of flowering plants. The NEMA Lab works with native pollinators to improve their management.

Plant Pollinator Interactions

The NEMA lab is working to understand how pollinators interact with native plants in order to improve conservation efforts.

Native Pollinator Management

The NEMA lab is working with Bee Hotels to understand how different management practices can improve pollinator health.

Chestnut with weevil emerging

Learn more about NEMA Lab Projects

NEMA Projects

Our Lab Members

NEMA Lab members come from diverse backgrounds and have wide-ranging interests.

  • Camila Filgueiras Photo

    Camila Filgueiras

    Principal Investigator

  • Abigail Levinson Photo

    Abigail Levinson

    Senior `24

  • Bailey Lankford Photo

    Bailey Lankford

    Junior `25

  • Catherine Anderson Photo

    Catherine Anderson

    Senior `24

  • Camila Filgueiras Photo

    Eli Perryman

    Junior `25

  • Camila Filgueiras Photo

    Evan Hausler

    Senior `24

  • Giulia Rodrigues Photo

    Giulia Rodrigues

    Senior `24

  • Harley Middleton Photo

    Harley Middleton

    Alumn `23

  • Jaq Reed Photo

    Jaq Reed

    Senior `24

  • Jennifer Luna-Ayala Photo

    Jennifer Luna-Ayala

    Senior `24

  • Julia Thomas Photo

    Julia Thomas

    Senior `24

  • Lindsay Caruana Photo

    Lindsay Caruana

    Freshman `27

  • Camila Filgueiras Photo

    Maria Escobedo

    Senior `24

  • Michael O'Cain Photo

    Michael O'Cain

    Senior `24

  • Phoebe Carnes Photo

    Phoebe Carnes

    Junior `25

  • Sylvia Yoo Photo

    Sylvia Yoo

    Freshman `27

  • Meet More NEMA Lab Members

Chestnut Weevil Emerging

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