Speakers – Turfgrass Trends for Changing Times

North Carolina State University’s
Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education
Fourth Annual Research Symposium

Home Program Abstracts Speakers Contact Us Past Events Keynote Speaker

Dr. John N. Trey Rogers III


Turfgrass Management

Michigan State University

Dr. John N. Rogers, III (Trey) is a Professor of Turfgrass Management in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University.  He has been on the faculty there since 1988.  He is a native of Arkansas and grew up working at Hardscrabble Country Club in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  He received a B.S. in Agronomy at the University of Arkansas in 1982 and then returned to be an Assistant Superintendent at Hardscrabble Country Club 19821983.   He returned to the University of Arkansas and earned M.S. in Agronomy in 1985 and received his Ph.D. in Agronomy from Penn State University in 1988. Since 1988, he has advised and graduated over 1100 students. 

His current turfgrass research interests at MSU include performance turf renovations, turfgrass establishment and soil modification.  Since 2012, he has assisted with over 20 golf course renovations.  Starting in 2020, he began consultations with Keeneland Association and Churchill Downs for Turf racecourses maintenance and renovations.

He served as the lead scientist for the indoor turf project at the Pontiac Silverdome for the 1994 World Cup Soccer matches and the project leader of the Spartan Stadium turfgrass conversion in 2001-02. He was a turf consultant and project leader for the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympic Games and the 2008 UEFA Cup.   In 2021 he agreed with FIFA to assist with Research and Implementation of United World Cup 2026. 

His consultations on golf course, athletic field, and turfgrass matters are extensive throughout United States as well as China, Greece, Japan, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Wales, England, and Spain. His National and International lectures and presentations total over 270, with over 230 publications and one book. 

He is the senior author of two U.S. Patents.  National organizations include the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and ASTM.  

CENTERE Updates Speakers

Dr. Jim Kerns

Turfgrass Pathology
Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology

Jim Kerns is a Professor and Extension Specialist in Turfgrass Pathology. Jim is also the Department Extension Leader in Entomology and Plant Pathology. Jim is originally from Wheaton, IL, but his family moved to NC when he was in high school. He graduated from NC State in 2002 with a BS in Agronomy and moved to Texas A&M for an MS in Soil and Crop Sciences. He returned to NC State in 2004 to work with Dr. Lane Tredway in the Department of Plant Pathology. He completed his Ph.D. in 2008 and started as an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in June of 2008. Jim was recruited back to NC State in 2012. The mission of the turfgrass pathology program at NC State is to provide disease management recommendations to turfgrass managers that are based on research. The program focuses on etiology, epidemiology, and management of diseases of both warm- and cool-season grasses. Jim’s research program focuses on understanding the biology of ultradwarf bermudagrass diseases, large patch of zoysiagrass, plant parasitic nematodes in turf, and diseases of creeping bentgrass. The mission of the program is to provide efficacious and cost-effective management strategies to turfgrass managers in NC and beyond. His program also houses the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab, managed by Lee Butler. Jim loves to spend time with his family, play golf, and in general have a good time!
Matthew Clay

4-H Specialist County Extension Agent, Agriculture & Horticulture, Wilkes County Center

Matthew Clay is the Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wilkes County. He graduated from NCSU in 2021 with a B.S. in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in Urban Horticulture from the Department of Horticulture Science. Previously, he worked as a Turfgrass Educator, developing a 4-H Turfgrass Curriculum.
Dr. Qiyu Zhou

Assistant Professor

Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences

Dr. Qiyu Zhou is an assistant professor of turfgrass management. Qiyu is originally from Sichuan, China. She earned a B.S. in Crop and Soil Sciences in 2015 from a joint degree program between Sichuan Agricultural University, China, and Michigan State University, USA. In 2018, she completed her M.S. in Soil Science, followed by a Ph.D. in Soil Science in 2021, both at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her current research focuses on precision and environmentally friendly strategies for turfgrass fertilization management.
Dr. Terri Billeisen

Extension Associate

Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology

Dr. Terri Billeisen is an Extension Associate in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at NC State University. She completed her B.S. and M.S. degrees in entomology at Purdue University. Her Ph.D. and post-doctoral research investigated the ecology of the sugarcane beetle in managed turfgrass and the distribution of the management of the annual bluegrass weevil respectively, both completed at NC State University. Her current research focuses on insect pollinator population dynamics in turfgrass systems and evaluating options for biological control of red imported fire ants..
Dr. Grady Miller

Bayer Environmental Science Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development & Extension Specialist

Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences

Grady Miller, PhD, ENVU Distinguished Professor of Sustainability and extension Specialist, at North Carolina State University. During his career, he has taught 72 University course sections and has authored over 750 publications related to turfgrass management. His research activities relate primarily to turfgrass nutrition and water issues, cultivar evaluation, turfgrass colorants, and evaluation of athletic fields. In his extension duties, he works closely with the sod, sports turf, utility turf, and golf course industry to address issues and find solutions to common turf problems. He has been installed in the Academy of Outstanding Faculty Engaged in Extension Outreach at NC State University and Fellow in the Agronomy Society of America.
Dr. Ramon Leon

Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences

Dr. Ramon Leon is a Professor and University Faculty Scholar of Weed Biology and Ecology in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, North Carolina State University. Previously, he was an Associate Professor of Weed Science at the University of Florida, USA, Professor of Weed Science at EARTH University in Costa Rica, and Assistant Professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Leon obtained a Ph.D. (2005) and M.S. in Crop Production and Physiology (2003) with emphases on Weed Science and Seed Science, a Ph.D. in Genetics (2005) from Iowa State University, and a B.S. in Agronomy (2000) from the University of Costa Rica. His research is focused on generating key information for the development of integrated approaches to manage weeds effectively and understand changes in weed dynamics in response to management and environmental factors. To achieve these goals, his laboratory uses modern technologies including molecular biology, genomics, UAVs and computational techniques. He has published over 160 peer-reviewed scientific articles, 2 book chapters, 77 extension publications, and 231 abstracts. He is Editor of the Journal of Aquatic Plant Management and is Associate Editor for Agronomy Journal. Previously he served as Associate Editor for Weed Science, Weed Research, Peanut Science, Weed Technology, and Agronomy. Dr. Leon has conducted research and extension activities in turfgrass during the last decade focusing on warm season grasses.


Brandi Merrick

MS student
Turfgrass Pathology

Brandi graduated from Iowa State University in 2010 with a BS in Agriculture Education and a minor in Horticulture. While in college, she had the internship of a lifetime at Pinehurst and always hoped to move back to North Carolina at some point. Upon graduation, she taught high school math, science, and agriculture, while coaching a variety of sports and working part time on a golf course in Iowa. In 2014 she made the big move to North Carolina where she was able to start working as a spray technician at Pinehurst. Brandi quickly moved up to a foreman position and eventually took a job as an assistant golf course superintendent at The Omni Grove Park Inn Golf Course in Asheville, NC. She worked as an assistant for three years before deciding that her true calling was in academia and working to help support golf course superintendents around the world. Brandi recently accepted a job as Green Section Education Manager with the USGA, is working part-time as she finishes up her masters, and is looking forward to starting full time in January. Her research is focused primarily on the impact of nitrogen fertilization and various edaphic factors on take-all root rot disease severity.
Esdras Carbajal

PhD student
Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics

Esdras is a Research Specialist with the Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics Program where manages all field and greenhouse aspects of the program as well as the St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass crossing programs. Esdras is originally from Yorito-Yoro, Honduras. He obtained a B.S. in natural resources from the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura (Olancho, Honduras) and an M.S. degree from NC State University in 2017 working on the use of colchicine to manipulate ploidy levels in St. Augustinegrass. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in plant breeding, working in embryo rescue and tissue culture to create triploid lines of  St. Augustinegrass.
Tripp Rogers

PhD Student
Pesticide Fate and Behavior

Ronald Rogers (Tripp) graduated from NC State in 2019 with a BS degree in Agricultural Science and a minor in Soil Science. Tripp is now working on his PhD under the direction of Dr. Travis Gannon. His research focuses on non-target site resistance mechanisms of annual bluegrass (Poa annua L.). When not in the field or lab Tripp enjoys camping, cooking, and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Emma Simpson

MS Student
Turfgrass Physiology

Emma is from Beaufort, NC. She obtained BS degrees in Biochemistry and Plant Biology from NC State in 2022. She was awarded the CALS Outstanding Undergraduate Student and Outstanding Plant Biology Major awards at the end of her undergraduate career for her departmental involvement, passion for serving her community, research experience, and sustained academic excellence. Emma served as a CALS Ambassador for 5 semesters. She was also a CALS Honors and University Scholars student where she had the opportunity to study abroad in Oxford, England. Emma’s career trajectory changed after her internship with Trinidad-Benham Corporation in Twin Falls, Idaho where she discovered that she wanted to be involved with field plot research. Emma is currently a MS student in the Cardoso Plant Physiology Lab researching the physiological alterations in zoysiagrasses during drought.
Ty Thomas

PhD Student

Crop Genomics

Ty is a second year Crop Science PhD student working with Joe Gage. He primarily focuses on gene expression in maize and how it relates to genotype by environment interactions. He sees himself as a data scientist and bioinformation which has led to work in partitioning variance in gene expression and preparing data for genome wide association studies in turf.
Sayada Momotaz Akther

PhD Student
Soil Microbiology

Greetings! I’m Sayada, a Ph.D. student in the crop and soil sciences department, at NCSU. I am an international student from Bangladesh, I completed my undergrad and Master’s at the University of Dhaka in the Department of Soil, Water, and Environment. I’m immersed in the fascinating world of research alongside Dr. Shi. My passion lies in delving into the dynamic realm of soil microbial ecology. Specifically, I’m dedicated to unraveling the secrets of how beneficial plant-microbe interactions can bolster turfgrass resilience against environmental challenges. It’s a thrilling journey, and I’m excited to contribute to understanding these vital ecological dynamics.