Adventurous research leads to the global stage

February 15, 2018

Iowa State junior Aimee Schulz is aiming to make a difference when it comes to global food security, and she's doing this through identifying ways to protect the genetic lines of indigenous maize. Or, what most of us refer to as corn.

Aimee took on an ambitious research adventure her freshman year in Assistant Professor Matthew Hufford's genetics lab at Iowa State to identify the human and environmental factors impacting indigenous varieties of maize in southwestern Mexico.

"If we were to lose these indigenous maize populations, we would be losing important genetic diversity that is currently untapped and could be used to help integrate new traits and diversity into our modern maize populations," Aimee explains. "Preserving this genetic resource can ultimately help breed new lines that can increase yield and withstand modern plant diseases or harsh climate conditions."

Aimee's research has earned her an opportunity to present her findings during a poster session at the 2018 International Maize Genetics Conference in France. Several professors, postdoctorates, graduate students and some undergraduates attend the "Maize Meeting" every year.

"Working with Dr. Hufford and everyone within the Hufford Lab has been the most influential aspect of my experience at Iowa State," Aimee says. "It has been incredible to see how much I have grown as both a scientist and as an individual under the mentorship of Dr. Hufford and the other students." 

After Aimee graduates with a bachelor's degree in genetics and agronomy, she plans to pursue a PhD and continue her research in maize genetics.

"My ultimate goal is to be a difference maker and change the world for the better by researching ways that we can help feed 9 billion people by 2050."

At Iowa State, undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate on research teams and work alongside professors who are leading experts in their field. You can choose an adventure at Iowa State to make a difference too.