Denis Willett

Denis Willett

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Denis joined NCICS in 2021 as a software engineer contributing to the NOAA Open Data Dissemination Program. His work focuses on leveraging cloud technologies for the development of data processing and machine learning pipelines. Prior to NCICS, he developed analytics and machine learning pipelines as faculty at Cornell University and as a data scientist across roles in industry, academia, and the federal government. Denis did his PhD in Entomology and Nematology at University of Florida and his undergraduate and masters work in Earth Systems at Stanford University.

Denis specializes in designing and deploying full-stack, cloud-native data science solutions to intractable technical problems across domains. At NCICS, Denis works on petabyte scale multi-cloud data transfer pipelines, creating pipelines to furnish analytics-ready environmental data, and building production machine learning platforms applying MLOps principles to automate model development and deployment. Previous work has involved expanding the capabilities of scientific instrumentation using machine learning and optimization, building prediction platforms that materials science engineers could use to leverage machine learning for better product design, scaling IOT ingest and analytics pipelines, implementing workforce development plans for data science teams, and strategic positioning planning for bioinformatics companies.

A key component of this and previous work has been technical advocacy in organizations adopting machine learning and cloud technologies. In working with and advising start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, Government Agencies, and Universities, architecting change from the C-Suite to the technical teams has been a priority with efforts focused on education, opportunity, and capacity building. A key part of this is building and leading diverse teams to implement change at the strategic and technical level.



Filgueiras, C.C., Y. Kim, K.G. Wickings, F. El Borai, L.W. Duncan and D.S. Willett 2022. The Smart Soil Organism Detector: An instrument and machine learning pipeline for soil species identification. Biosensors and Bioelectronics.


Agnello, A.M., D.B. Combs, C.C. Filgueiras D.S. Willett, and A. Mafra-Neto (2021). Reduced Infestation by Xylosandrus germanus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) in Apple Trees Treated with Host Plant Defense Compounds. Journal of Economic Entomology, 114(5), 2162-2171.

Barrett, M.R, C.C. Filgueiras and D.S. Willett (2021). Using Cucumis sativus, Acalymma vittatum, Celatoria setosa, and generalist pollinators as a case study for plant–insect interactions. Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 15(5), 637-644.

Filgueiras, C.C. and D.S. Willett (2021). Non-lethal effects of entomopathogenic nematode infection. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 1-8.

Pereira, R.V., C.C. Filgueiras, J. Dória, M.F.G. Peñaflor and D.S. Willett (2021). The effects of biostimulants on induced plant defense. Frontiers in Agronomy, 45.


Crandall, S.G., K.M. Gold, M.D.M. Jiménez-Gasco, C.C. Filgueiras, and D.S. Willett (2020). A multi-omics approach to solving problems in plant disease ecology. PloS one, 15(9),

Pereira, R.V., C.C. Filgueiras, D.S. Willett, and M.F.G.V. Peñaflor (2020). Sight unseen: Belowground feeding influences the distribution of an aboveground herbivore. Ecosphere, 11(9), e03163.

Willett, D.S., C.C. Filgueiras, J.P. Nyrop, J. P. and B.A. Nault (2020). Attract and kill: spinosad containing spheres to control onion maggot (Delia antiqua). Pest Management Science, 76(8), 2720-2725.

Willett, D.S., C.C. Filgueiras J.P. Nyrop and B.A. Nault (2020). Field monitoring of onion maggot (Delia antiqua) fly through improved trapping. Journal of Applied Entomology, 144(5), 382-387.

Willett, D.S., C.C. Filgueiras, N.D. Benda, J. Zhang and K.E. Kenworthy (2020). Sting nematodes modify metabolomic profiles of host plants. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-10.


Stelinski, L.L., D.S. Willett,M.J. Rivera and J.G. Ali (2019). ‘Tuning’communication among four trophic levels of the root biome to facilitate biological control. Biological Control, 131, 49-53.

Filgueiras, C.C., A.D. Martins, R.V. Pereira and D.S. Willett (2019). The ecology of salicylic acid signaling: primary, secondary and tertiary effects with applications in agriculture. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(23), 5851.


Willett, D.S., H.T. Alborn, L.L. Stelinski and D.I. Shapiro-Ilan (2018). Risk taking of educated nematodes. Plos one, 13(10), e0205804.

Halbritter, D.A., D.S. Willett, J.M. Gordon, L.L. Stelinski and J.C. Daniels (2018). Behavioral evidence for host transitions in plant, plant parasite, and insect interactions. Environmental entomology, 47(3), 646-653.

Christensen, S.A., A. Huffaker, J. Sims, C.T. Hunter, A. Block, M.M. Vaughan, D.S. Willett and E.A. Schmelz (2018). Fungal and herbivore elicitation of the novel maize sesquiterpenoid, zealexin A4, is attenuated by elevated CO2. Planta, 247(4), 863-873.

Christensen, S.A., J. Sims, M.M. Vaughan, C. Hunter, A. Block, D.S. Willett ... and E.A. Schmelz (2018). Commercial hybrids and mutant genotypes reveal complex protective roles for inducible terpenoid defenses in maize. Journal of experimental botany, 69(7), 1693-1705.

Hunter, C.T., J.W. Saunders, M. Magallanes‐Lundback, S.A. Christensen, D.S. Willett, P.S. Stinard ... and K.E. Koch (2018). Maize w3 disrupts homogentisate solanesyl transferase (ZmHst) and reveals a plastoquinone‐9 independent path for phytoene desaturation and tocopherol accumulation in kernels. The Plant Journal, 93(5), 799-813.

Willett, D.S., X. Martini and L.L. Stelinski (2018). Chemoecology and Behavior of Parasitic Nematode—Host Interactions: Implications for Management. In Chemical ecology of insects (pp. 91-113). CRC Press.

Willett, D.S., C.C. Rering, D.A. Ardura and J.J. Beck (2018). Application of mathematical models and computation in plant metabolomics. In Computational Phytochemistry (pp. 231-254). Elsevier.


Som, S., D.S. Willett and H.T. Alborn (2017). Dynamics of belowground volatile diffusion and degradation. Rhizosphere, 4, 70-74.

Filgueiras, C.C., D.S. Willett, R.V. Pereira, P.H.D.S. Sabino, A.M. Junior, M. Pareja and D.W. Dickson (2017). Parameters affecting plant defense pathway mediated recruitment of entomopathogenic nematodes. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 27(7), 833-843.

Willett, D.S., H.T. Alborn and L.L. Stelinski (2017). Multitrophic effects of below ground parasitoid learning. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 1-10.

Visser, B., D.S. Willett, J.A. Harvey and H.T. Alborn (2017). Concurrence in the ability for lipid synthesis between life stages in insects. Royal Society Open Science, 4(3), 160815.

Beck, J.J., D.S. Willett, N.E. Mahoney and W.S. Gee (2017). Silo-stored pistachios at varying humidity levels produce distinct volatile biomarkers. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 65(3), 551-556.


Beck, J.J., D.S. Willett, W.S. Gee, N.E. Mahoney B.S. Higbee (2016). Differentiation of volatile profiles from stockpiled almonds at varying relative humidity levels using benchtop and portable GC-MS. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 64(49), 9286-9292.

Willett, D.S., George, J., D.S. Willett, L.L. Stelinski and S.L. Lapointe (2016). Machine learning for characterization of insect vector feeding. PLoS computational biology, 12(11), e1005158.

Filgueiras, C.C., D.S. Willett, R.V. Pereira, A. Moino, A.M. Junior, M. Pareja and L.W. Duncan (2016). Eliciting maize defense pathways aboveground attracts belowground biocontrol agents. Scientific Reports, 6(1), 1-9.

Filgueiras, C.C., D.S. Willett, A.M. Junior, M. Pareja, F.E. Borai, D.W. Dickson, ... and L.W. Duncan (2016). Stimulation of the salicylic acid pathway aboveground recruits entomopathogenic nematodes below ground. PloS one, 11(5), e0154712.

Martini, X., D.S. Willett, E.H. Kuhns and L.L. Stelinski (2016). Disruption of vector host preference with plant volatiles may reduce spread of insect-transmitted plant pathogens. Journal of chemical ecology, 42(5), 357-367.

Holladay, B.H., D.S. Willett and L.L. Stelinski (2016). High throughput nematode counting with automated image processing. BioControl, 61(2), 177-183.


Willett, D.S., H.T. Alborn, L.W. Duncan and L.L. Stelinski (2015). Social networks of educated nematodes. Scientific reports, 5(1), 1-8.

Willett, D.S., L.L. Stelinski and S.L. Lapointe (2015). Using response surface methods to explore and optimize mating disruption of the leafminer Phyllocnistis citrella (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae). Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 3, 30.