Project Leader

Dr. Miguel S. Castillo
Associate Professor
Phone: 919-513-1335
Office: 2413 Williams Hall


Miguel is originally from Loja, Ecuador, South America. He received his B.S. in Agricultural Science and Animal Production from Zamorano Pan-American School (Honduras, Central America),  M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Agronomy from University of Florida (Gainesville, FL, USA), and MBA from NC State University (Raleigh, USA). He joined the Crop Science Department at NC State in August 2013.

Current Program Members

Stephanie Sosinski
Research Assistant

Stephanie is originally from Roanoke, VA, although growing up in a military family lead her to move and travel extensively throughout the US and internationally. She received her B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture in 2009 from the University of Maine, Orono.  She has worked for UMaine Cooperative Extension and on various farms in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and North Carolina.  She joined the Forage program in July of 2016.

Post-docs and Visiting Scientists

Dr. Juan J. Romero

Juan worked characterizing the microbiome of silage using next generation sequencing techniques.  After joining us for almost 2 years, he accepted a faculty position in Animal Nutrition at University of Maine in 2016.

Dr. Heba Salama

Heba joined us for a 6-month research mission in 2016 at NCSU. During her stay she worked on nutritive value analysis of by-products from sweet potatoe and grape pomace as feed for livestock and ensiling characteristics. After her time at NCSU she returned to University of Alexandria, Egypt where she is a faculty member.

Dr. Eduardo Alava

As a faculty member of Escuela Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL), Guayaquil, Ecuador, Eduardo joined us for a one-week training on utilization of near-infrared spectroscopy devices for determination of plan-tissue chemistry.


Raul Rivera, Graduate  Student (MS)

Raul is originally from Tacna, Peru, South America. He received his B.S. in Animal Science from Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Peru. After he graduated he worked as a research assistant at Agraria for 3 years. His hobby is horseback riding. His research project at NCSU focused on persistence and yield to extend the biomass-supply season for switchgrass from the animal and bioenergy perspectives. Raul graduated on Spring 2018.

Marcelo Gutierrez, Short-term Graduate Scholar

Marcelo is originally from Cochabamba, Bolivia. His undergraduate degree (B.S.) is in Plant and Animal Sciences from Zamorano University (Honduras, C.A.). He joined us in April 2018 for a 7-month research scholarship program. Marcelo supported research efforts evaluating productivity and nutritive value of warm- and cool-season grass-legume mixtures and also state-wide extension programs.

Perejitei Bekewe,  Graduate Student (M.S.)

Perejitei is from Arogbo, Ondo State, Nigeria. He received a B.S. degree in Agricultural Sci. from Earth University in Costa Rica, Central America. Perejitei’s research project evaluated productivity, persistence, and nutritive value of switchgrass as a function of defoliation frequency and intensity. His research took place at the Central Crops Research Station. After graduating from NCSU, Perejitei was offered and accepted a Ph.D. research assistantship at Texas A&M University.

Izamar Gonzales, Short-term Graduate Scholar

Izamar joined us as a research scholar for Summer and Fall of 2017. She was born in Honduras. Her undergraduate degree is in clinical microbiology from Universidad Autonoma of Honduras. She participated in field and laboratory activities collecting and analyzing samples from the silvopasture project and from the alfalfa-grass mixture forage project.

Tommaso Gaifami, Short-term Graduate Scholar

Tommaso’s research focused on frost-seeding legumes into existing perennial grasslands and its effect on productivity and N cycling. The project timeframe is winter-spring seasons of 2017 and 2018. After completing his internship at NCSU, Tommaso received his M.S. diploma in Organic Agriculture from Wageningen University in Netherlands and accepted a position as research assistance in Florence, Italy.

Ruby Vega Ravello, Research Scholar

Ruby joined us as research scholar  during Spring 2017. She was born in Trujillo, Peru. She has degrees in Agronomy (B.S.) and Soil Science (M.S.) from Universidad Agraria La Molina, Peru. She is member of the Soil Science faculty at La Molina. After completing his program at NCSU, Ruby returned to work as faculty at Universidad Agraria La Molina in Peru.

Adam Heitman,  Graduate Student (M.S.)

Adam’s research project evaluated the effect of N fertilization on plant responses of two sorghum cultivars (sweet sorghum and high biomass sorghum) as dedicated bioenergy crops in eastern North Carolina. Experiments were conducted at a research stations as well as on-farm. Adam graduated in Spring 2016 and accepted a position in private industry.

Diego J. Contreras, Short-term Undergraduate Scholar from Zamorano University, Honduras

Diego joined us during Spring 2016 as a short-term undergraduate scholar. His major in Zamorano University is Plant and Animal Sciences. During his stay he work on two projects that will serve as his undergraduate graduation thesis. The projects were: a) establishment performance of cool-season annual and perennial forages and b) soil microbial activity of N fertilized sorghum plots.

Mari Dalman, Short-term Undergraduate Scholar

Mari Dalman is a senior student in the Department of Animal Science at NC State who joined the program as an undergraduate intern for Fall 2015. During the internship she helped on many projects that include soil sampling and analysis from soils at the agroforestry project at CEFS, and bermudagrass and corn silage analysis.

Marco Balseca, Short-term Scholar

Marco is a graduate from Zamorano University in Honduras. Originally from Ecuador, Marco joined the program as a short-term scholar during Spring 2015. He worked on several projects including establishment of native warm-season grasses, silage production, and extraction of microbial DNA from ensiled forages.

Jinwoo Park, International Undergraduate Intern

Jinwoo park joined the Forage Program as a one-semester undergraduate intern for Fall 2014. He is from Ulsan, Republic of Korea. After finishing his internship at NCSU, Jinwoo returned to Korea to finish his undergraduate degree in the department of Animal Sciences in Gyeongsang National University, Jinju.

Yuchen Zhao,  International Graduate Student  Intern

Yuchen joined the group as a graduate research intern for Fall 2014. He is native from China. Yuchen received an undergraduate degree in 2013 in Animal Science and after finishing his internship at NCSU, he returned to China to finish his  M.S. degree in Animal Science in China Agriculture University, Beijing, China.

Young ho, Joo, International Graduate Student Intern

Young ho joined the Forage Program in Fall 2014. He is a native from the Republic of Korea and received his B.S. in Animal Science in 2013 from Gyeongsang National University. After finishing his internship Young ho returned to Korea to finish his M.S. degree in Animal Science.

Axel Gonzáles Murillo, Short-term Scholar

Axel joined the group as a research intern in Spring 2014. He is native from Honduras, and graduated in 2011 with a B.S. degree in Agriculture from Universidad Nacional de Agricultura, Honduras. After finishing the internship, Axel returned to Honduras where he accepted a position and started working in private industry.