Leanna joined the Arboretum staff in January 2023. She earned a bachelor of arts in advertising and public relations with a minor in business and the liberal arts from Penn State. With nearly 10 years of experience in event management, Leanna has a passion for bringing people together for social gatherings of all kinds, especially celebrations. Using her skills in creativity, client success, business development, and time management, Leanna strives to provide an unforgettable experience for clients and colleagues alike, that changes the way people imagine an event.
As the events and rentals manager, Leanna is responsible for collaborating with other staff to develop and host special Arboretum events, and for renting spaces in the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens to the University and public for such activities as weddings, academic receptions, reunions, and more.
Amanda 'Mandy' DiBellaCurator of Living Collections
Mandy joined the Arboretum staff in 2020. She holds a bachelor of science in biodiversity and conservation biology from Cedar Crest College. She has a diversified background and has held positions in natural resources, marine conservation, environmental education, and horticulture. Prior to joining the Arboretum, she worked as the plant records curatorial assistant at both Willowwood and Frelinghuysen arboretums in New Jersey.
Her responsibilities at the Arboretum include overseeing the use of the plant records system, accessioning and mapping the plant collections, labeling, developing plant records and mapping standards and procedures, and providing support for horticultural and research projects. She also coordinates the educational component of the arboretum’s internship program.
She is passionate about all aspects of the natural world and feels fortunate to be part of such an inspirational and scientific resource on campus and in the greater community. She also enjoys caring for and curating her own personal plant collection at home in her free time.
Rachel is a devoted Penn Stater with a lifelong connection to the University. She joined the Arboretum team in September 2023 and she is completing her master of science in education, development, and community engagement at Penn State. Her academic journey began with a bachelor of science in agricultural science from Penn State, accompanied by minors in leadership development and sustainable leadership.
Throughout her professional career, Rachel has been an active contributor to various nonprofit organizations, environmental centers, museums, and art venues. Her expertise spans youth programming, production agriculture, and a broad spectrum of other endeavors.
In her role as the public programs manager, Rachel draws upon her rich experience to craft innovative adult, academic, and family programs while nurturing the growth and success of existing initiatives.
Joshua Gershey grew up on a small family farm in the woods of northeast Pennsylvania. He was a curious child with passions for the natural world, science, music, and food. As an adult, Josh served in the U.S. Navy as an engineering technician prior to coming to study at Penn State.
Josh graduated from Penn State in 2021 with a bachelor of science in forest ecosystem management and a minor in arboriculture. While at Penn State, Josh spent the majority of his time working as an undergraduate research assistant on ecology projects, with a focus on trees. When not doing schoolwork or research, Josh can be found biking, drinking large amounts of tea, enjoying online video games, or exploring new dishes and unique flavors in the kitchen. Josh is excited to contribute to the Arboretum and engage with community members.
Jenn Hooven holds a bachelor of science in recreation and park management with an option in environmental interpretation from Penn State. For the past 15 years, she has worked in child care at Penn State as a preschool educator, leading a team of practitioners to plan and implement emergent project-based curricula focused on nature and place-based education. Jenn has served as a mentor to students from the Colleges of Education, Health and Human Development, and Arts and Architecture. She has volunteered at the Arboretum’s Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden since 2012, and joined the Arboretum staff in July 2021.
Rebecca holds a bachelor of science in geology and biology. She joined the staff in 2017 after working at the National Museum of Natural History for the Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems Program, and as a freelance scientific illustrator and artist. She has worked with the Arboretum’s volunteer program and assists in the development and delivery of the Arboretum’s educational programs, especially those that are intended for children and families.
Marek PundzakDirector of Horticulture and Operations
Marek joined the Arboretum in April 2023 as its director of horticulture and operations. He holds a bachelor of science degree in horticulture and landscape design from the State University of New York, Farmingdale.
His fifteen-year career in public horticulture, arboriculture, and operations of public spaces reflects his passion. Immediately before Penn State, he was grounds department head at Saint Joseph’s University and the Barnes Arboretum in Philadelphia. Prior to that, he spent seven years working for the High Line in New York City as its urban forestry supervisor, overseeing the woody-plant collection and tree installation during construction of two new sections. Marek’s other work experiences include landscape design, plant merchandising, and facility operations.
Collaboration with colleagues and a genuine curiosity are at the root of his professional ethos. Resourcefulness and utilitarian preservation of nature were ingrained during his early years living in Slovakia. Marek is a first-generation college graduate and American. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist.
Casey began serving as the H.O. Smith Endowed Director in August 2022. He holds a master of science degree and doctorate in entomology from Colorado State University, and a bachelor of science degree in ornamental horticulture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Casey’s experience in horticulture spans almost three decades. As executive director of the American Public Gardens Association from 2011–2022, he served more than 600 public gardens throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and more than 20 other countries. Prior to that appointment, he spent 15 years leading plant health care efforts at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, including soils and compost, IPM, land stewardship, and other sustainability programs. He is currently board vice president of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and was the recipient of the American Public Gardens Association’s Professional Citation in 2011. Since his arrival at Penn State, Casey has also been appointed an affiliate professor in the Department of Entomology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
Casey enjoys developing partnerships that benefit the growth and development of professionals in the horticulture industry, and help preserve, conserve, and grow gardens and habitats.
Aubrey Tallon (she/they) joined the Arboretum staff in fall of 2023. They hold a dual-title M.S. in recreation, park, and tourism management and human dimensions of natural resources and the environment from Penn State. Since 2018, they have played a variety of roles in the outdoor education and recreation field, primarily in childhood environmental education and research management. Aubrey feels strongly that outdoor experiences should be rooted in equity, and in their spare time has pioneered the Lavender Scouts program — a scouting program hosted by Millbrook Marsh Nature Center that serves local LGBTQIA+ youth and provides them with scouting experiences in a queer-friendly space.
Sydney Turner (she/her) joined the Arboretum staff in the spring of 2023. She graduated from Penn State in 2023 with a double major in advertising and art, and a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation.
Sydney has a background in entrepreneurship and started her first small business venture in 2015. She also has experience in freelance graphic design, social media marketing, branding, illustration, presentation design and coaching, copywriting, and small business coaching (especially in the fine-art industry). Outside of her work at the Arboretum, Sydney is also an artist, working with watercolors, oils, and natural hand-made art materials (inks, dyes, pigments, paints).
Patrick Williams holds a bachelor of science degree in parks and recreation/leisure studies from Penn State. In his previous position as associate director of corporate and foundation relations, he worked to build corporate relationships between Penn State and Fortune 500 companies through research, recruiting, sponsorships, and philanthropy. Hired in January 2008 as the Arboretum’s director of development, Mr. Williams coordinates and manages fundraising efforts.
Yuhui (“Millie”) Zhou serves as financial coordinator for The Arboretum at Penn State. Her responsibilities include monitoring income and expenditures, preparing budget reports, assisting budgeting, and forecasting of Arboretum operational and capital projects, reconciling expenditures, managing grants, processing interdepartmental transactions, and assisting with event-related tasks.
She earned a master of arts degree in applied linguistics at Southeast University in China and a master of engineering degree in computer engineering at Penn State. She was an instructor at Southeast University and later at Penn State, as well as a business information specialist in a consulting firm before she joined the Arboretum staff in March 2016 as the financial assistant. An active member of the American Public Gardens Association, she has held leadership roles in the finance and operations community and is currently the vice chair of this community.
Horticulture Team Members
Rychele Stipcak Horticulture Technician, Pollinator and Bird Garden
Rychele joined the Arboretum team in 2020 as the Pollinator and Bird Garden’s horticulturist. She graduated from Penn State in 2016 with a bachelor of science in plant science and a minor in dance. She was also a majorette in the Penn State Blue Band. While in school, she interned at the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens and spent two summers as a seasonal horticulturist assistant. Before joining the Arboretum, she worked to solidify her horticultural foundation at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Chanticleer.
Ted joined the Penn State horticulture crew in October of 2011, and became a member of the Arboretum’s team in 2014, working to plan and maintain the children’s garden. He is in charge of design, installation, and maintenance of seasonal displays and vegetable beds, and is responsible for the horticultural collection within the garden.
Ted works with the children’s garden education team, interns, and volunteers from all walks of life. He also maintains the grounds and gardens of the president’s home, the Schreyer House.
He came to Penn State with more 10 years of experience as a landscape contractor and 4 years as an arborist. Ted has a degree from Penn College in landscape nursery technology and is a certified arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture.
Tim first joined the Arboretum team as a seasonal employee and became a full-time staff member in 2018. He studied filmmaking at Pittsburgh Filmmakers while dabbling in photography and theater at Penn State and Juniata College, respectively. Tim can often be seen mowing, raking leaves, shoveling snow, or gazing at the many plants surrounding him.
Affiliated Faculty and Staff
Publius Vergilius Maro Professor of Entomology
Director, Center for Pollinator Research, Insect Biodiversity Center
Associate Director for Research, Institute for Sustainable Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science
Christina Grozinger is the Publius Vergilius Maro Professor of Entomology and the Director for the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State. She has a master of science degree and doctoral degree in chemistry from Harvard University, and a bachelor of science dual degree in biology and chemistry from McGill University.
Christina’s research program focuses on pollinator behavior and health. Her studies evaluate the impacts of different stressors at the molecular, physiological and behavioral level, and examine how bees’ resilience to these stressors can be bolstered by management practices and environmental contexts, particularly by improved nutrition. Together with the Beescape team, Christina is also developing models and decision support tools to evaluate landscape and climate conditions and predict bee health at local scales, to help beekeepers, growers, land managers, and members of the public better assess and mitigate the stressors that their managed and wild bee populations experience. She is an elected Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and received the 2021 National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The Penn State Center for Pollinator Research includes more than 40 faculty from nine different Colleges across Penn State. The center is committed to developing and implementing integrative, multidisciplinary approaches to improving pollinator health, conservation, and management. The research, education and outreach programs of the center have been used to inform the design, management and implementation of the Pollinator and Bird Garden at the Arboretum at Penn State.
Assistant Research Professor
Research Associate of Entomology
Director of Pollinator Programming
Dr. Harland Patch is an assistant research professor in the Department of Entomology at Penn State. His current research projects include understanding the mechanisms underlying patterns of pollinator and plant interactions in complex environments and plant nutrient for pollinators. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses. For the past eleven years Dr. Patch has been a scientific advisor in the design of the Arboretum’s pollinator gardens where he is director of pollinator programming.
Education Program Specialist, Pollinator and Bird Garden
Department of Entomology
A State College native, Heather earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY and a Master of Education from the University at Buffalo. She has worked as an environmental educator for nine years and loves to teach people of all ages about the natural world.
Heather joined the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State in August 2021. As the education program specialist, she facilitates tours, workshops, creates educational resources, and manages the social media (@PSUPollinators on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter).