Spotlight on Volunteers in the Plant Pest Laboratory

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The Soil, Plant and Pest Center’s plant pest diagnostic laboratory is lucky to have three outstanding volunteers working in the laboratory. Scroll to learn more about our Extension Plant Pest Lab volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please email us at We only accept volunteers who are retired and able to work without compensation. For more information on becoming an Extension Volunteer, please see our Extension Volunteerism Webpage.

Dr. Paul Prill

Dr. Paul Prill joins the plant pest lab as a recent retiree from his position as the head of the Honors College at Lipscomb University and career as a philosophy professor. Paul specializes in Medieval Rhetoric. In his retirement, he has dedicated many hours in aiding in the organizing and curating plant pest specimens in the plant pest laboratory. Paul’s love of native plants and pollinators is unparalleled. Paul is also a member of the Extension Master Gardeners of Davidson County and Wild Ones, an organization with a mission to promote and educate on Native plants and biodiversity. We are grateful for his volunteerism and enthusiasm for insects and pollinators.

Cheryl Carlson

Cheryl Carlson is the most worldly member of the plant pest diagnostic laboratory. Cheryl has taught abroad in many countries, and brings her love of learning and plant health to her volunteerism. Cheryl is a key part of our digitization project to scan and record historical diagnoses in the plant pest lab dating back to 1965. These historical pest records will eventually become a database for any Tennesseans to be able to see which diseases and insect pests have been reported on different plants in their counties and regions of the state in an open-sourced database. Cheryl is also a member of the Master Gardeners of Williamson County Diagnostics Team. We are grateful for Cheryl’s volunteerism and commitment to solving plant health problems.

Dr. Carol Taylor

Dr. Carol Taylor joins the plant pest lab as an accomplished biomedical genomic researcher and educator. She has conducted biomedical genomic research at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and lectured at John’s Hopkins University, Vanderbilt University, and Meharry Medical College. Carol has been instrumental in aiding with molecular work and capacity building in the plant pest lab. She is also the President of the Extension Master Gardeners of Davidson County. We are grateful for Carol’s volunteerism and willingness to share her expertise on molecular techniques in the plant pest diagnostic laboratory.

Many thanks again to our wonderful volunteers!

Post by Dr. Eleanor Lopez, plant pathogen and insect diagnostician.