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Viticulture and Enology Research Center

Affiliated Researchers

Affiliated Researchers List
Serhat Asci photo

Serhat Asci

Agriculture Business Department 

Dr. Asci has extensive experience with all three missions of the university: research, teaching, and extension. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Food Engineering (2000) and a master’s degree in Food Economics and Management (2008). Dr. Asci’s research focuses on three key areas: decision-making under uncertainty, demand modeling and international trade. He has applied his analytic and quantitative skills to the projects about water demand; water quality policy for agricultural areas; stochastic production function modeling; investment under uncertainty; international trade; differential demand and production systems; and agricultural land allocation.

Headshot of Sangeeta Bansal

Sangeeta Bansal

 Deparment of Plant Science

Dr. Bansal joined the Department of Plant Science as an Assistant Professor of Soil Health in August 2023. Her research has focused on various dimensions of soil health, and investigating interactions among soil physical, chemical and biological indicators. She has specifically studied the effects of regenerative practices in vineyards such as incorporation of cover crops, no-tillage, organic amendments, and sheep-grazing on soil microbial community structure and functions, overall soil health and drought resilience.

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Monique Bell

Department of Marketing and Logistics

Dr. Bell's research examines topics in the business of wine, including entrepreneurship, consumer behavior, sustainability and marketing communications. She is especially interested in diversity and inclusion among both producers and consumers, which led her to publish influential research on Black wine entrepreneurs by using quantitative and qualitative methods. Her study, "Terroir Noir: A Study of Black Wine Entrepreneurs," earned her a Wine Enthusiast Social Visionary of the Year nomination as well as the Education Award by the Association of African American Vintners. 

Sharon Benes photo

Sharon Benes

Plant Science Department

Dr. Benes' research focuses on the use of saline waters for irrigation, assessment of salinity tolerance in crops and the management of saline soils. More recently her research includes spatial analysis of soil salinity using the EM38 sensor and assessment of the potential for satellite imagery to indicate salinity stress in forage crops. She has collaborated with Dr. Luca Brillante on research assessing the benefit of gypsum applications in vineyard soils with poor infiltration characteristics and with Dr. Kristy Sun on periodic irrigation of grapevines with winery wastewater. 

Luca Brillante photo

Luca Brillante

Viticulture and Enology Department

Dr. Luca Brillante joined the Department of Viticulture and Enology faculty in the Fall of 2018 as the Bronco Viticulture Chair and Assistant Professor of Viticulture. He focuses on wine grape production and vineyard management, and teaches in the areas of general viticulture, mechanized viticulture, and advanced grape and vine enterprise management in cooperation with the campus vineyard and winery management personnel. In addition, Brillante serves as the Viticulture and Enology Graduate Program Coordinator, advises students, supervises student research projects, and engages in a rigorous scientific research program.

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Hubert Cecotti

Computer Science Department

Dr. Hubert Cecotti, IEEE senior member, joined the Department of Computer Science in the Fall of 2017. He is an Associate Professor of Computer Science. His current research interests include pattern recognition, human-computer interaction with eye-tracking, and virtual reality, and brain-computer interfaces. His current research works include pattern recognition theory and applications on agricultural technology for the classification of images and physiological signals. He has published more than 120 research papers, he teaches computer science courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, such as data structures and algorithms, image processing, web programming, and artificial intelligence. 

Margaret Ellis photo

Margaret Ellis

Plant Science Department

Dr. Ellis’ research focuses on soilborne pathogens and other fungal pathogens that impact important crops in California including cotton, orchard, and vine crops. Her work includes a combination of
genetic characterization, development of diagnostic tools, and field and laboratory studies to better understand pathogen diversity and interactions with plant hosts. Current research projects focus on
the characterization and management of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum race 4 and Rhizoctonia solani in cotton. In vine crops, Dr. Ellis has collaborated with other research scientists on the evaluation of fungicide resistance in populations of Botrytis cinerea collected from different fruit crops and the evaluation of endemic Trichoderma fungi for the biological management of grapevine trunk diseases.

Srinivasa Konduru photo

Srinivasa Konduru

Agricultural Business Department

Annette Levi photo

Annette Levi

Agricultural Business Department

Dr. Levi received her PhD in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University where she investigated international wine demand. Her MS thesis focused on the impacts of Phylloxera on California wine grape production. Dr. Levi has conducted additional research regarding the evaluation of consumer demand for wine versus other beverages. Other research areas include how demographic characteristics impact food choice, assessment of agricultural labor issues, cost studies on horticultural crops, evaluating government regulations on crop production patterns, and measuring economic impacts of the agricultural supply chain in urban areas.

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Todd Lone

Agricultural Business Department

Dr. Todd Lone's teaching interests include finance, marketing, and management, while research interests focus on consumer behavior with respect to food choices, producer input management decision making and producer risk management strategies. His research is in the area of enology pertains to consumer demand trends in the U.S. and consumer willingness to pay for specific wine attributes. Specifically, as a member of the team updating Fresno State's winery marketing plan last year (Tom Montgomery, Kevin Smith, Dennis Nef, industry stakeholders, etc.), He researched consumer demand trends in the U.S. and conducted a survey of Fresno State wine club members. Dr Lone has received funding investigate: "Consumer Willingness to Pay for the Fresno State Brand: A Case Study of Wine". Dr. Lone was part of a research team that ultimately published the following journal article: Xu, Pei, Y.C. Zeng, S.F. Song, and T.A. Lone. "Willingness to Pay for Red Wines in China." The Journal of Wine Research, 25 (2014): 265-280.

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Steven Pao

Food Science and Nutrition Department

Dr. Steven Pao holds a Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition from The Ohio State University and is a Certified Food Scientist with the Institute of Food Technologists. He conducts research in the following areas: Food safety and hygiene, food microbiology, packinghouse sanitation, minimal processing, food preservation, pathogen intervention, and control process validation. His current projects include studies on sanitizers and surrogate microorganisms in fruit washing systems and food contact surfaces against foodborne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. As a Lead Instructor, he offers the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance’s training courses for Preventive Controls for Human Food (PC) and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP).

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Anil Shrestha

Plant Science Department

Dr. Shrestha joined the department in 2008. Primary research area is integrated vegetation management in agricultural and non-agricultural systems. Particular research interest includes weed biology and ecology; crop-weed competition; herbicide-resistance management; environmental aspects of vegetation management; conservation cropping systems; agroecology; IPM; and organic farming. He serves as an editorial board member of the Journal of Crop Improvement and Journal of Sustainable Agriculture; associate editor of Agricultural and Environmental Letters and is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy.

Kristy (Qun) Sun photo

Kristy (Qun) Sun

Viticulture and Enology Department

Dr. Sun received her Ph.D. in wine chemistry from Cornell University. The focus of her dissertation was on chemosensory and viticultural studies of hybrid grapes and resulting wines. Before joining the Department of Viticulture and Enology at Fresno State in August 2017, she was appointed as a Food Scientist at the International Food Network, where she conducted food/beverage development and reformulation. Dr. Sun’s research interests are grape/wine aroma and flavor compound identification, the impact of viticultural practices on grape and wine quality, developing new analytical techniques for the measurement of grape and wine components, determining the relationship between sensory attributes and wine composition, using new technology to improve wine aroma/flavor, and reusing winery wastewater for vineyards.

Sonet Van Zyl photo

Sonet Van Zyl

Viticulture and Enology Department

Dr. Van Zyl joined the faculty at Department of Viticulture and Enology in September 2011. She was previously appointed as a researcher at the South African Agricultural Research Council in Stellenbosch where she evaluated new table and raisin grape cultivars. Her research interests include table and raisin grape production and marketing, cultivar development and evaluation, grapevine and rootstock breeding for improved quality and pest and disease resistance, industry focused research for the California table grape and raisin industries.

 Zhi (Luke) Wang headshot

Zhi (Luke) Wang

Earth and Environmental Sciences Department

Dr. Zhi “Luke” Wang is a professor of Hydrology and Soil Physics in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. His Teaching and scholarly activities are focused on hydrology, hydrogeology (groundwater hydrology), soil physics, irrigation technology, and spatial data science - geostatistics and geographic information system (GIS). Dr. Wang's recent viticulture and enology researches, in collaboration with Dr. Kristy (Qun) Sun and others, include funded studies on: 1 The effects of gypsum and compost on soil properties, crop yield, vine performance and grape quality, effects of raised soil berms between grape rows on water harvesting in the raining season (with Bronco Wine Company at Cantua Creek, Fresno County, 2018-2021); and 2 Using cover crops to mitigate the negative effects of winery wastewater application on soil, crop yield, grape and wine quality (with The Wine Group at 7409 W Central Ave, Fresno County, 2021-23).

Jacob Wenger photo

Jacob Wenger

Plant Science

Dr. Wenger is an agricultural entomologist and molecular ecologist. His research focuses on sustainable pest management tools for insect pests of California’s orchard and vine crops. His work includes is a combination of genetic analyses, field and laboratory trials to better understand the ecological interactions that drive pest movement and adaptation both in the field and post-harvest storage. Current projects focus on understanding host plant use by leaffooted bug (Leptoglossus spp.), genetic transformation of navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella), and the management of citrus mealybugs (Planococcus citri). Past work in vineyards have included miticide trials and investigations of the impact of spray adjuvants on pesticide absorption and transformation in grapevines.

Whilliam Whalen photo

Whilliam Whalen

Viticulture and Enology Department

Cliff (Runze) Yu photo

Cliff (Runze) Yu

Viticulture and Enology Department

Dr. Yu joined the Department of Viticulture and Enology faculty in the fall of 2021 as an Assistant Professor of Viticulture. Prior to this appointment at Fresno State, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Oakville Station at the Department of Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis. His research is in vineyard sustainability under the context of climate change with focuses on canopy management, water management, vineyard floor management, berry/wine primary and secondary metabolites, and the utilization of mechanization and precision agriculture technologies.