Morgan Thompson

Research Interests

For my Master's project, I am studying the effect of potato leafhopper (Empoasca fabae, Order Hemiptera, Family Cicadellidae) feeding on nitrogen fixation in alfalfa (Medicago sativa). As a legume, alfalfa root hairs engage in symbiotic interactions with nitrogen-fixing microbes (Sinorhizobium meliloti). Alfalfa translocates photoassimilates belowground for microbial metabolism and, in return, alfalfa gains nitrogenous byproducts to incorporate into proteins, RNA, DNA, and other cellular structures. Leafhopper feeding aboveground, however, disrupts photoassimilate translocation and may alter nitrogen fixation. Using a combination of field studies and greenhouse experiments, I am actively exploring leafhopper-alfalfa-microbe interactions.


  • M.S. Student, Entomology
  • Fall 2016 - Present
  • University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  • Advisor: Dr. William Lamp
  • B.S. in Biology
  • Fall 2012 - Spring 2016
  • The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
  • Advisor: Dr. Matthias Leu


  • Thompson, M.N., E. Fleishman, R.D. Scherer, A.L. Zappalla, and M. Leu (In Prep) Effects of variation in weather on turnover of butterflies with different life histories. J. of Research on the Lepidoptera.
  • Thompson, M.N. and W.O. Lamp (2017) Pest alert: kudzu bugs found on Maryland soybeans. University of Maryland Extension: Crop News Alert.

Grants and Awards

  • Northeast SARE Graduate Student Grant (July 2018-April 2019), Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education)
  • Student Section Travel Award (July 2018) Ecological Society of America
  • Gahan Fellowship Award (2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019) University of Maryland, Department of Entomology
  • Charlie Mitter Travel Award (April 2018) University of Maryland, Department of Entomology
  • First Place: Bioscience Day Poster Competition (November 2017) Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Science Category, University of Maryland
  • Dean's Fellowship Award (2016-2017) University of Maryland, Graduate School
  • Research Grant (May 2015) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program