Seminar Policy

Iowa State Department of Agronomy

Expectations: Each student taking major graduate work in Agronomy is expected to register for seminar credits in their major. The Plant Breeding Seminar (Agron 600A), the Soils Seminar (Agron 600B), and the Crop Production & Physiology Seminar (Agron 600C) are joint graduate student/staff seminars. Seminar topics are presented by graduate students, staff, and occasional outside speakers. Each student taking major graduate work in Agronomy is expected to register for credit in one of the above seminars in a semester during the time he/she works toward an M.S. degree and in two additional semesters during the time he/she works toward a Ph.D. degree after the M.S. degree. Students in interdepartmental programs may give their seminars in another department, depending on their area of specialization. To qualify for the Agronomy seminar requirement, the substitute seminar must be advertised and must be open to graduate students and staff. All graduate students and faculty are expected to attend one or more seminars each week in the area of their interest.

The three seminars have been established on a subject-matter basis, and students and staff are expected to present their reports in the seminar in which their topics logically fall. The Plant Breeding Seminar and the Soils Seminar are for topics that deal exclusively or almost exclusively with aspects of plant breeding or soil science as the case may be. In general, subjects dealing with agricultural climatology, crop physiology, or crop response to soil or environmental factors are appropriate for the Crop Production and Physiology Seminar.

All Crop Production & Physiology students are required to register for Agron 600C each semester they are in residence. They present one seminar for an M.S. and two additional seminars for a Ph.D. When not presenting, there is an alternate activity for which they are graded. Grading in Agron 600C is S/F only.

The major professor is generally responsible for the subjects on which each of his/her students report, and is expected to advise the student with respect to title, content, and use of visual aids. Subjects suitable for seminars include progress reports on research and completed research. Except under special circumstances, however, no more than two reports on a given research problem are acceptable. Also suitable are critical reviews of individual research papers or syntheses and analyses of information available on particular topics that do not represent the personal work of the speaker. In general, research papers and topics suitable for review in the seminars have the following qualities: (a) they have been published recently, (b) they deal with principles, (c) they contain new concepts.

At the beginning of each term, students should express their preferences to the seminar chair with regard to the title of their seminar and the time they wish to give it. Insofar as feasible, the seminar chairs shall consider the students’ requests in making assignments. The seminar chairs shall give preference both in timing and in allocation of a full seminar period to students making final reports on their thesis or dissertation.