Department

In 1989, Jaci Severson was hired as a secretary in the main office of Agronomy. She spent five years working for the Iowa Crop Improvement Association when Dr. Ron Cantrell, department chair at the time, came to her with a question.

"He said I could stay with Iowa Crop or move to the teaching office," said Severson. "I thought about it and told him I wanted to stay with Iowa Crop, but he told me I really didn't have a choice - either go to the teaching office or transition out of the department. It was the best move I could have ever made."

Jaci started revamping the teaching office in 1996. Since then she has ushered 952 graduate students through our doors and into their careers. They are, without a doubt, the highlight of her career.

The National Association of Plant Breeders announced their first group of graduate and undergraduate Borlaug Scholars, and our students took three of the eight awards. Our Katelyn Fritz and Andrew Herr, juniors in Agronomy, were selected Borlaug Undergraduate Scholars. Our Kevin Falk, graduate student with Dr. Asheesh (Danny) Singh, was selected Borlaug Graduate Scholar.

Katelyn Fritz

"Borlaug increased yield and got calories to everyone," said Fritz. "I want to leverage breeding to make those calories more nutricious."

As planting gets underway for farmers and researchers, Dr. Asheesh Singh's soybean lab will be able to plant more efficiently thanks to a donation from Monsanto. The St. Louis based agriculture company develops products and tools to help farmers aground the world grow crops more sustainably. 

“We are pleased to provide this planter donation to Iowa State University,” said J.D. Rossouw, North America and Latin America North Plant Breeding Lead for Monsanto. “Tools like this planter help to prepare the next generation of agricultural scientists and leaders and we are grateful to be a part of encouraging students to pursue careers in agricultural industries to help drive food security.”

Iowa State took home the Overall Sweepstakes Award for the fourth year in a row at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Contest held at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska on April 21. Teams from across the College of Agriculture of Life Sciences competed in seven competitions to take the sweepstakes award. The students also took first place in the Ag Knowledge Bowl for the eighth consecutive year.

The Crops Team took first place in the crops contest for the fifth time in the last six years.

Top placing individuals in the crop contest:

Daniel Feucht: 1st place
Elizabeth Widder: 3rd place
Joshua DeGroot: 4th place
Coleman Kneifl: 5th place
Heather Wilson: 6th place

Stubbornly cold temperatures and winter storms affecting much of Iowa this spring shouldn’t cause undue alarm for farmers anxious to begin planting, according to an Iowa State University agronomist. At least, not for a few more days.

Mark Licht, an assistant professor of agronomy, said Iowa farmers can scale up their planting in a hurry, planting between 1 and 1.5 million acres a day across the state when operating at full capacity. That means there’s still time for most farmers to get virtually all of their corn and soybeans planted before the optimal window closes for each crop, Licht said, even with this month’s temperatures freezing farmers out of their fields.

“In another week, I start to get a little more concerned, though.”

On April 11, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate held a Research Conference. Various students were recognized for their contributions. Our Maria Betsabe Mantilla, graduate student with Dr. Maria Salas, received one of five Research Awards across the University. (Photo: Maria, third from left)

Graduate student Kevin Falk with Dr. Asheesh (Danny) Singh recieved Best Oral Presentation. 

By Paula Van Brocklin, Office of the Vice President for Research

After reviewing dozens of applications, Iowa State University’s Plant Sciences Institute (PSI) has named nine faculty members to the second cohort of PSI Faculty Scholars. Faculty selected represent three of the university’s eight colleges – Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering, and Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The PSI Scholars program identifies, supports and empowers talented Iowa State researchers who have the potential to significantly contribute to the complex and rapidly emerging discipline of predictive phenomics. PSI Scholars build upon their existing strong funding and publication track records to enhance ISU’s research prominence in the plant sciences. Recipients receive $75,000 of research funding per year for up to three years.

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