September 12, 2023 – Aidan Bobholz, a junior from Randolph, WI, majoring in agronomy and seed science had the opportunity to work for Syngenta in Slater, IA, over the summer through a Discovery Breeding Internship. With an avid interest in plant breeding, he had previously worked at companies as an intern in corn breeding. During his internship at Syngenta, he not only gained more experience in corn breeding, but also was able to gain experience that would complement his minors in data science and international agriculture.
According to Bobholz, the discovery team at Syngenta works on integrating evolving technologies, new ideas for plant breeding, and data science into the main market pipeline for Syngenta breeding, which allowed him to work with data scientists, corn breeders and a soybean breeder. He said his team lead, Scott Stelpflug, was instrumental in connecting him with a data scientist who taught him how to use R, a program language like Python. R is heavily focused on data science and cleaning data sheets. He used RStudio (an interface that makes writing in R easier) to create linear regression modeling systems for a characteristic of corn.
Bobholz explained, “I was able to make this model more accurate by the end of the summer and got interested in its use from the main breeding team. Along with data science, I was able to walk the field with Travis Beckett, the DB breeder for 100-110RM, and learned about what he looks for in the nursery in different generations. I took flowering notes and tassel ratings in his nursery for him. This experience helped me begin in the development of my data science skills and allowed for me to work on them whilst creating a useful application for breeding.”
He also gained more knowledge in corn breeding saying, “I learned a lot about the germplasm and genetics of the current corn used in most breeding programs, being the NSS and SS heterotic pools.”
Top photo from left: Aidan Bobholz, Ryleigh Grove, Jon Renk (DB 80-100RM DB Corn Breeder, Syngenta) , Nick Wiering (DB Soybean Breeder, Syngenta)
Kara Berg, Department of Agronomy