Zilfina Rubio Ames​

Ph.D. Horticulture, University of Florida​
M.S Horticulture, Minor in Food Science, University of Florida​
B.S Agronomy, Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, Trujillo-Peru​

​My primary goal as a small fruit extension specialist in the state of Georgia is to improve berry production systems, making them more efficient and sustainable by using methods and inputs that improve yield and quality.​


Melissa Brannon​

Research Assistant​

​Mrs. Brannon has been with UGA for 14 years. She worked in row crops and vegetables for several years. Melissa enjoys field work, has a phenomenal work ethic and ability to get things done.​


Amit Godara​

Master’s Student​

​He is a graduate student researcher at the University of Georgia under the guidance of Dr. Zilfina Rubio Ames and Dr. Angelos Deltsidis. Amit is currently working on the use of a photoselective device and postharvest quality in the blueberry production system. Prior to coming to UGA, he worked as a research intern at Conservation international. Amit completed his Masters’s in global food and agricultural business from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and did id bachelor’s in B.Sc. Agriculture Honours from India.


Natalia Espinoza​

Ph.D. Student​

​Natalia is a Research Assistant at the University of Georgia. She is working on the improvement of the fertilization regime and soil amendments for blueberries under the guidance of Dr. Zilfina Rubio Ames. Natalia completed her Master’s degree in Crop and Soil Sciences with an emphasis in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Georgia and did her undergraduate studies in Ecuador in Agroindustrial Engineering. Before coming to UGA, she worked in cocoa production and various food industry projects. She is a Fulbright Alumni and believes in the development of sustainable agroecosystems.


Lilian Carcamo

Ph.D. Student​

​Lilian, originally from Honduras, is currently a graduate student dedicated to improving the quality of blueberry fruits by investigating the pathways of calcium, boron, and pollination. She is conducting her research under the guidance of Dr. Zilfina Rubio Ames. Prior to joining our program, Lilian earned her Bachelor’s degree in Food Sciences from the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura in Honduras, and then she pursued her Master’s degree in Biological Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Colombia. Before becoming a part of UGA, she gained valuable experience as an intern at The Ohio State University, contributing to apple and wheat breeding projects.


Fabian Reyes​

Undergraduate Intern

Fabian pursued his undergraduate studies in Leon-Nicaragua, specializing in Tropical Agroecology. He has a passion for field and lab work, having undertaken a Research Project in phytopathology. He is also an experienced Farm Manager, skilled in planning, organizing, and supervising soil preparation, acquiring agricultural supplies, managing crops such as melon, watermelon, corn, and common beans; harvesting, and commercializing. Currently, Fabian is a research intern working with Dr. Zilfina Ames, conducting research on blackberries and blueberry crops.


Karoline Ponder​

Undergraduate Intern

​Karoline Ponder is an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia. She is currently pursuing an Agricultural Engineering degree as well as a minor in Computer Science. She is a research intern under the guidance of Dr. Zilfina Rubio Ames primarily focusing on blueberry and blackberry postharvest quality.


Marcos Del Masso Fairbanks

Undergraduate Intern

Marcos is an undergraduate intern from Brazil. He pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Agronomic Engineering at the College of Agricultural Science in Sao Paulo State University (UNESP). Marcos spent six months at Dr. Cristiane Pilon learning about the Georgia Peanut industry, after moving to Dr. Rubio Ames lab to learn about Small fruits. Marcos has experience with beef cattle, row crops and honey bees. He enjoys field work.


Madison Grace Booth

Young Scholar

Madison is a high school senior participating in the Young Scholars program through the University of Georgia focusing on the postharvest quality of blackberries and blueberries. She will continue to work in the lab after the program is complete as a student worker.