Findings from an Iowa State University research team challenge previous understanding of the genetic control of traits associated with a “smart canopy” in sorghum.

Leaf angle has been an important trait manipulated to enhance yield for corn and some other crops. Plants with leaves upright at the top and more horizontal toward the bottom are idealized as having a “smart canopy” leaf arrangement, predicted to intercept more light, boost photosynthesis and increase yields.

This approach has not been a focus for improving sorghum, an important cereal crop worldwide for grain and forage production with potential as a bioenergy feedstock. The new research from Iowa State, studying sorghum leaf angle patterns and their underlying genetics and physiology, sheds light on opportunities to increase sorghum production. The findings were published recently in the peer-reviewed journal, Plant Physiology.    

The Iowa State Crops Team recently competed at a contest hosted by the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. The team found great success, placing 1st overall in the 4-year division. On the championship team were agronomy students; Rachel Casey, Jenna Cowen, and Benjamin Kolbe. Rachel placed 3rd, Jenna placed 4th, and Benjamin placed 5th as individuals. Alternate, Alyssa Swehla also did very well at the competition.


Jenna Cowan and Alyssa Swehla were the Iowa State Intramural Euchre Champions. The two seniors met at the Freshmen Agronomy Field Trip and have been friends ever since. Both of these seniors are majoring in Agronomy. Alyssa also majors in Global Resource Systems and minors in Sustainability. Besides her Agronomy major, Jenna also is minoring in Sustainability. Alyssa learned how to play euchre from her dad while growing up and has always enjoyed playing cards. Jenna learned how to play euchre from Alyssa during their sophomore year. The two even host regular euchre nights for their friends. They have learned how to complement each other’s moves and dominate games. 

Agronomy student Rosie Roberts had quite the triumph at the recent State of Iowa PAS (Professional Agriculture Students) Conference. She first got involved with the organization as a freshman and now serves as the Vice President. Roberts is a senior double majoring in Agronomy and Agricultural Education. She placed first in both the Turf and Employment Interview competition areas. Roberts will now move on to the National PAS Conference in March to represent Iowa State PAS at the highest level. Advisor Nate Dobbels shared how proud he was by saying, “I know things were different this year, but your success will still rank as one of the best state conferences ever for ISU! Share your success loud and proud, and get ready for nationals!” PAS is a student organization is a student-led organization that allows students to build and sharpen their skills so that they are ready for the workplace.

Agronomy student Rosie Roberts had quite the triumph at the recent National PAS (Professional Agriculture Students) Conference. She placed first in the Crops Competition! At the State of Iowa PAS Conference, she placed first in both the Turf and Employment Interview competition areas.

Agronomy Graduate Student Club elected new members! Congratulations to

President: Caner Ferhatoglu

Vice President: Juan Panelo

Secretary: Avery Bennett

Social Chair: Emma Molburg    

Seminar Planning Co-chairs: Ryan Hamberg, Ala Khaleel, and Luis Bentancor Bossio

Congratulations to our Daniel Kohlhase, PhD candidate with our Dr. Michelle Graham, for being named a Brown Fellow.

Daniel began his research career at Iowa State University with an M.S. degree in Crop Production and Physiology under the guidance of Dr. Micheal Owen. Daniel’s research focused on investigating the genetics and genomics of HPPD herbicide resistance in waterhemp, an agronomically important weed that reduces crop production in soybean and maize. His first project focused on studying the genetic inheritance of HPPD resistance in a waterhemp population discovered in Iowa. His research was published in Plant Science in 2018 and has already earned 13 citations.

The North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) approved funding for close to $3 million for fiscal year 2021 for ten university-based projects. One of the proejcts includes our Danny Singh who will serve as co-PI with others on a project led by Leah McHale, The Ohio State University, titled “SOYGEN2: Increasing Soybean Genetic Gain for Yield and Seed Composition by Developing Tools, Know-how and Community Among Public Breeders in the North Central US” (This project will also receive funding from USB)

Additional projects on campus from our many colleagues include:

The researchers who teamed up to build ISOFAST (Interactive Summaries of OnFarm Strip Trials Tool) have received two-year funding via a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDANIFA) grant for a new project titled “FACT: WebBased Dynamic Data-Analytics Framework for OnFarm Research Networks.” Building upon ISOFAST, which received funding from the ISRC, the FACT (Food and Agriculture Cyber Technologies initiative) project will help to share and provide unbiased accessible analyses of agricultural research data.


Subscribe to RSS - Department