Current Lab Members

Michael Itam (Postdoctoral Research Associate 2023-Present)

Michael Itam is a native of Ugep in southern Nigeria. He obtained a BSc and an MSc from Ebonyi State University with a focus on Plant Physiology. Upon graduation, he furthered his studies in Japan where he earned an MSc and a PhD in molecular breeding from Tottori University, with a focus on wheat breeding for abiotic stress tolerance. After his PhD, Michael worked in Japan for a brief period before joining Michigan State University as a postdoctoral researcher. He then joined the Gasic Lab as a postdoctoral researcher in 2023 where he is currently involved with the SCRI project for genomic and breeding data collection and curation.  Michael loves nature and enjoys outdoor activities. In his free time, he reads history and plays soccer.

Asma Abdelghafar (Postdoctoral Research Associate 2023-Present)

Asma Abdelghafar is originally from Benghazi, Libya.  She procured her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Garyounis University in Libya with a focus on botany and plant physiology.  After graduating from Garyounis University in 2009, she got a scholarship from her government to pursue a Doctorate degree. In 2012, she was accepted in to Clemson University’s  Plant and Environmental Science PhD program.  Asma’s research focused on enabling marker-assisted breeding for phytochemical compounds in peach.  Asma received her doctorate degree in December of 2016. Asma rejoined the lab in 2023 to assist with the ARR project. Asma loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys teaching and helping others in different ways.

Jennifer Corbin(Project Manager 2020-Present)

Jennifer grew up in Greenwood, AR.  She completed her bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business and Economics at the University of Arkansas.  After graduating Jennifer then went to work full time for Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center.  While working full time for the Rice Breeding and Agronomy team she earned her Master’s degree in Agronomy from Mississippi State. In Fall 2020, Jennifer accepted the position with Dr. Gasic for the role as Project Manager on the Armillaria Root Rot USDA grant.  Jennifer enjoys anything with family, and most of her spare time is devoted to her two boys, Lyndon and Leo.


John Mark Lawton (Lab/Field Technician 2019-Present)

John Mark Lawton was raised in rural Cleveland, SC. He attended Clemson University and graduated with a Horticulture Degree in 2015.  After a year of operating his own high intensity organic vegetable operation, he landed a job with Clemson University at the esteemed Musser Fruit Research Center in April of 2017. He assisted in all farm duties including nursery management, data collection and orchard upkeep and was the acting Food Safety Officer.  He started working as the Laboratory/Field Technician for Dr. Gasic’s peach breeding program in the spring of 2019.  He continued his education while working at Clemson and graduated with a Master’s in Plant and Environmental Science in 2021.  John Mark is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hiking, camping, kayaking, and backpacking.  He also enjoys cooking and working in his garden, in his spare time.


Trey Burrell (Part-time Technician 2019-Present)

Trey Burrell grew up in the town of Walhalla, SC.  He completed his bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Natural Resources at Clemson University in 2008.  After graduating, Trey began working full time as a farm technician at Clemson’s Musser fruit research station.  Trey went back to school part time while working and earned a Master’s degree in Plant and Environmental Sciences.  In 2014, Trey accepted a new position working as Dr. Gasic’s technician for the peach breeding program.  Trey enjoys bow hunting, gardening, and fishing during his free time. He also is fascinated by extreme weather events and actively monitors weather modeling throughout the year.

Jared Weaver (Masters Student 2022-present)

Jared Weaver is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences with a minor in Legal Studies at Clemson University in 2022. During this time he cultivated an interest in plant biology and pathology. After graduation, Jared was accepted to the Gasic lab to pursue his Master of Science in Plant and Environmental Science. His research focuses on profiling the transcriptome and metabolome of Armillaria Root Rot fungi in peach. Specifically, he is looking to identify candidate effector genes used during infection and baseline metabolites produced by the fungi. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, playing golf and basketball, and reading.