Mary Barbercheck, Ph.D.

Mary Barbercheck, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Entomology
516 Ag Sciences & Industries Bldg.
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Soil Entomology and Ecology
  • Sustainable and Organic Agriculture
  • Insect Pathology
  • Women and Gender in Science
  • Women and Agriculture


  • B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara,1980. Environmental Biology
  • M.S. University of California, Davis,1982. Plant Protection and Pest Management
  • Ph.D. University of California, Davis,1990. Entomology

Department Focus Area

Ecological Applications; Disease Ecology and Biology; Biocontrol and Insect Pathology; and Integrated Pest Management

Research Programs & Interests

Biological soil quality and sustainability - A major area of emphasis in my research program is on the impact of agricultural practices on soil biodiversity and function. Soil organisms are tightly linked functionally to above-ground interactions and are involved in ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, carbon storage, maintenance of plant diversity, biological control of human and agricultural pests, and bioremediation, and therefore, are of critical importance to ecosystem function and productivity. Agricultural management has generally been driven by production at the expense of the environment and, in many cases, the use of pesticides and fertilizers has masked the importance of soil biota. Consequently, there is a lack of data on the value of services provided by soil arthropods in maintaining soil structure, soil fertility, antagonism and control of pest organisms, and in mediating processes such as decomposition and mineralization. This information will be critical as the use of synthetic inputs in agriculture become more restricted and/or less desirable. The long-term goal is to identify practices that encourage productivity and minimize costs associated with synthetic inputs and damage from insect pests.

Biology and ecology of entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi - Entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi important natural mortality factors for soil-dwelling insect pests, and currently the ones with the greatest potential for successful commercial use. The goal of my research on entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi has been to clarify aspects of their biology and ecology that relates to their successful use as conserved or applied biological control agents. Projects have ranged from very practical to fairly basic - from efficacy trials to the effects of insect food plant on the biology and ecology of entomopathogenic nematodes and the effects of selection on several aspects of their biology. Another current area of emphasis is the impact of agricultural practices on the occurrence and abundance of entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi.


Seedcorn maggot response to planting date, cover crops, and tillage in organic cropping systems
Journal of Economic Entomology, Regan, K., Voortman, C., Barbercheck, Mary, 2024

Maize response to endophytic Metarhizium robertsii is altered by water stress
PLoS One, Peterson, Hannah, Ahmad, Imtiaz, Barbercheck, Mary E., 2023

Endophytic Metarhizium robertsii suppresses the phytopathogen, Cochliobolus heterostrophus and modulates maize defenses
PLoS One, Ahmad, I., Gasco-Jimenez, M., del Mar Jiménez-Gasco, María, Luthe, Dawn S., Barbercheck, Mary, 2022

Weed-Insect Interactions in Annual Cropping Systems
Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Barbercheck, Mary, Wallace, John, 2021

The Role of Endophytic Insect-Pathogenic Fungi in Biotic Stress Management, Ahmad, Imtiaz, Jiménez-Gasco, María del Mar, Barbercheck, Mary E., 2021

The role of endophytic insect-pathogenic fungi in plant growth promotion and protection, Ahmed, Imtiaz, Jimenez Gasco, Maria Del Mar, Barbercheck, Mary Ellen, 2021

Weeds in cover crops: Context and management considerations
Agriculture (Switzerland), Baraibar, Barbara, Barbercheck, Mary, White, Charles M., Hunter, Mitchell, Finney, Denise, Kaye, Jason P., Curran, W, Bunchek, Jess, Mortensen, D, 2021

Cover crop–based, rotational no-till management tactics influence crop performance in organic transition within the Mid-Atlantic United States
Journal of Production Agriculture, Wallace, John, Barbercheck, Mary, Curran, W, Keene, Clair, Mirsky, Steven, Ryan, Matthew, VanGessel, Mark, 2021

Rotational no-till and tillage-based organic corn produce management tradeoffs in the Northeast
Journal of Production Agriculture, Champagne, Rebecca J., Wallace, John, Curran, William, Barbercheck, Mary, 2021

Carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) differentially respond to soil management practices in feed and forage systems in transition to organic management
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Pisani Gareau, Tara, Voortman, Christina, Barbercheck, Mary, 2020

Is tillage beneficial or detrimental for insect and slug management? A meta-analysis
Agro-Ecosystems, Rowen, Elizabeth, Regan, Karly, Barbercheck, Mary E., Tooker, John F., 2020

Systemic colonization by Metarhizium robertsii enhances cover crop growth
Journal of Fungi, Ahmad, Imtiaz, Del Mar Jiménez-Gasco, María, Luthe, Dawn S., Barbercheck, Mary E., 2020

Drill and broadcast establishment methods influence interseeded cover crop performance in organic corn
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Wallace, John M., Isbell, Sarah, Hoover, Ron, Barbercheck, Mary, Kaye, Jason, Curran, William, 2020

Gender and agricultural extension, Barbercheck, Mary, 2020

Cover crop mixture expression is influenced by nitrogen availability and growing degree days
PLoS One, Baraibar, Barbara, Murrell, Ebony, Bradley, Brosi, Barbercheck, Mary, Mortensen, D, Kaye, Jason, White, Charles M., 2020

Endophytic Metarhizium robertsii promotes maize growth, suppresses insect growth, and alters plant defense gene expression
Biological Control, Ahmad, Imtiaz, Jiménez-Gasco, María del Mar, Luthe, D., Barbercheck, Mary, Shakeel, Samina N., 2020

Fungal community shifts in soils with varied cover crop treatments and edaphic properties
Scientific Reports, Cloutier, Mara, Murrell, Ebony, Barbercheck, Mary, Kaye, Jason, Finney, Denise, Garcia-Gonzalez, Irene, Garc\'\ia-Gonz\'alez, Irene, None, García-González, Irene, Bruns, Mary Ann, 2020

Organic Agriculture Teaching and Learning in 2025: A Futuring Workshop to Guide Transformation of the Learning Landscape.
NACTA Journal, Jabbour, R., Francis, C., Barbercheck, Mary, Ullman, K., 2020

Prevalence of Early- A nd Late-Season Pest Damage to Corn in Cover Crop-Based Reduced-Tillage Organic Systems
Environmental Entomology, Regan, K., Voortman, Christina A., Wallace, John M., Barbercheck, Mary, Nachappa, Punya, 2020

Cover Crop Mixture Effects on Maize, Soybean, and Wheat Yield in Rotation
Agricultural and Environmental Letters, Hunter, Mitchell C., Schipanski, Meagan E., Burgess, Macdonald H., LaChance, James C., Bradley, Brosi A., Barbercheck, Mary E., Kaye, Jason P., Mortensen, David A., 2019

Manipulating Wild and Tamed Phytobiomes: Challenges and Opportunities
Phytobiomes Journal, Collins, Alyssa, Bell, Terrence H, Hockett, Kevin, Esker, P, Alcala-Briseno, Ricardo, Gugino, B, Alcalá-Briseño, Ricardo, Barbercheck, Mary, Peter, K, Beattie, Gwyn, Bruns, Mary Ann, Carlson, John, Chung, Taejung, Collins, A, Emmett, Bryan, Esker, Paul, Garrett, Karen, Glenna, Leland, Gugino, Beth K., Del Mar Jiménez-Gasco, María, del Mar Jimenez Gasco, M, Jimenez Gasco, Maria del Mar, Kinkel, Linda, Kovac, Jasna, Kowalski, Kurt, Kowalski, Kurt, Leveau, Johan, Myrick, J, Kuldau, Gretchen, Peter, K, Leveau, Johan, Michalska-Smith, Matthew, Salazar, Maria, Myrick, Jessica, Shade, Ashley, Peter, Kari, Stopnisek, Nejc, Tan, Xiaoqing, Vivanco Salazar, Maria fernanda, Salazar, Maria, Shade, Ashley, Welty, Amy, Stopinsek, Nejc, Stopnisek, Nejc, Wickings, Kyle, Yergeau, Etienne, Tan, Xiaoqing, Welty, Amy, Wickings, Kyle, Wickings, Etienne, Yergeau, Etienne, 2019

Growing degree days and cover crop type explain weed biomass in winter cover crops
Agronomie, Baraibar, Barbara, Barbercheck, Mary, Mortensen, David A., Hunter, Mitchell C., Kaye, Jason P., Finney, Denise M., Curran, William S., Bunchek, Jess, White, Charles M., 2018

Balancing multiple objectives in organic feed and forage cropping systems
Agro-Ecosystems, Schipanski, Meagan E., Barbercheck, Mary E., Murrell, Ebony G., Harper, Jayson, Finney, Denise M., Kaye, Jason P., Mortensen, David A., Smith, Richard G., 2017

Cover crop termination timing is critical in organic rotational no-till systems
Journal of Production Agriculture, Keene, C. L., Barbercheck, Mary, Curran, W. S., Wallace, J. M., Ryan, M. R., Mirsky, S. B., Vangessel, M. J., 2017

Cover crop-based reduced tillage system influences Carabidae (Coleoptera) activity, diversity and trophic group during transition to organic production
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Rivers, Ariel, Barbercheck, Mary, Mullen, Christina, Wallace, John, 2017

Ecosystem Services and Disservices Are Bundled in Simple and Diverse Cover Cropping Systems
Agricultural and Environmental Letters, Finney, Denise M., Murrell, E., White, Charles M., Baraibar, B., Barbercheck, Mary, Bradley, B., Cornelisse, S., Hunter, M., Kaye, Jason P., Mortensen, D., Mullen, C., Schipanski, M., 2017

Cover crop and tillage intensities alter ground-dwelling arthropod communities during the transition to organic production
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Jabbour, Randa, Pisani-Gareau, Tara, Smith, Richard G., Mullen, Christina, Barbercheck, Mary, 2016

Conservation agriculture affects arthropod community composition in a rainfed maize-wheat system in central Mexico
Applied Soil Ecology, Rivers, Ariel, Barbercheck, Mary, Govaerts, Bram, Verhulst, Nele, 2016

The rise of women farmers and sustainable agriculture, Sachs, Carolyn Elizabeth, Barbercheck, Mary, Brasier, Kathryn J., Kiernan, Nancy Ellen, Terman, Anna Rachel, 2016

Management of overwintering cover crops influences floral resources and visitation by native bees
Environmental Entomology, Ellis, Katherine E., Barbercheck, Mary E., 2015

Entomopathogenic nematodes in the soil environment: Distributions, interactions and the influence of biotic and abiotic factors

Multivariate relationships influencing crop yields during the transition to organic management
Agro-Ecosystems, Schipanski, M. E., Smith, R. G., Gareau, T. L.Pisani, Jabbour, R., Lewis, D. B., Barbercheck, M. E., Mortensen, D. A., Kaye, J. P., 2014

Use of conservation practices by women farmers in the Northeastern United States
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Barbercheck, Mary Ellen, Brasier, Kathryn Jo, Kiernan, Nancy Ellen, Sachs, Carolyn Elizabeth, Trauger, Amy, 2014

A framework for evaluating ecosystem services provided by cover crops in agroecosystems
Agricultural Systems, Schipanski, Meagan E., Barbercheck, Mary, Douglas, Margaret R., Finney, Denise M., Haider, Kristin, Kaye, Jason P., Kemanian, Armen R., Mortensen, David A., Ryan, Matthew R., Tooker, John, White, Charlie, 2014

Capturing the multiple and shifting identities of farm women in the northeastern United States
Rural Sociology, Brasier, Kathryn J., Barbercheck, Mary, Sachs, Carolyn E., Kiernan, Nancy Ellen, Trauger, Amy, 2014