Bioenergy Explorer

By going to Iowa State, I’m learning what it means to use science to develop bioenergy. I’m learning that plants can be a renewable and reliable source of energy. I’m learning that I can do something to help. That’s why I’m studying how to apply discoveries in the field and lab to lead to bioenergy breakthroughs. So I can become an agronomist. So I can lead the change I want to see.

About Valeria

I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. I have always been interested about plants and soil but wasn’t sure what the technical name was. The summer before my freshman year, I interned in a biomass crop production and physiology lab in the Department of Agronomy and have been having a blast ever since.

I am concerned with a variety of issues in society, from political, social and environmental. One of my main concerns is climate change and the impacts it will have on agricultural systems. 

Why Iowa State?

I was fortunate enough to have earned a tuition scholarship for ISU, and knowing it was one of the best ag schools, it was a very logical choice.

Honestly, I struggled with the transition from HS to college, but with the help of my advisors and mentors, I was able to adjust my second semester and do much better. My favorite classes have been Agronomy 260 & 360 with Dr. Lee Burras. I really enjoyed the freshman learning community field trip and being part of the “I’m an Agronomist” campaign. My faculty adviser HAS BEEN AMAZING. Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft is such a great person and really cares about the wellbeing of her students, and not just academically.


I work with Dr. Emily Heaton doing bioenergy research on a gigantic grass called Miscanthus. It's the most hands on learning experience I have ever had. Since it's only me and another undergrad student, we are able to ask questions and truly understand concepts. The work with Dr. Heaton is very important, because biorenewables are necessary to fuel an increasing world population.



Lead IT


Buy and keep the agronomy 114 and 154 (intro to soils) textbooks. They will be super helpful in future classes. Have an open mind. Think about all aspects of the situation and the impacts it will have on people’s life.

In ten years...

 I would like to be an extension agent in a developing nation and helping communities improve agricultural systems.

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