Department

How long does it take to shift the way you do business? Turns out about eight days. The migration to virtual instruction could not have gone smoother thanks to the work of our faculty and various teams.

Administration announced the decision to hold classes virtually on March 10. Led by Department Chair, Kendall Lamkey priorities were established, action steps were outlined and communicated.

Daniel Kohlhase is the recipient of the C. R. Weber Award for Excellence in Plant Breeding. Daniel grew up in Bloomington, IL. He discovered his passion for agriculture at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, earning a BSc in Crop Science. After internships in plant breeding and seed production, Daniel decided to attend graduate school at Iowa State University in 2013. He earned a MSc in Crop Production & Physiology working with Dr. Mike Owen in 2016.

Students in Robert “Bob” Hartzler’s Agronomy 217: Weed Identification course have been given an excuse to take a break from sitting in front of their computers and get outside.

Hartzler, professor in agronomy, said the purpose of the class is for students to learn to identify weeds, which usually involves going on class field trips. With the switch to online learning, he wanted to find a way for students to learn to identify weeds in person, rather than just looking at weed pictures online. Thus, the idea to send students on a weed hunt was born.

Kan Wang, professor of agronomy and holder of the Global Professorship in Biotechnology at Iowa State University, is widely recognized as an international leader in the fields of plant biotechnology, plant genetic transformation and genome editing.

Her research has ranged widely from increasing the nutritional content of corn and yam, to improving corn varieties for bioethanol production. Currently, she serves as co-director for Iowa State’s Crop Bioengineering Center, a cohort of faculty whose research focuses on using genome-editing technologies for crop improvement.

Using machine learning to develop and utilize plant breeding tools that can deliver improved genetics to farmers faster is a dream of Asheesh (Danny) Singh, associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State University and recipient of the 2020 Raymond and Mary Baker Agronomic Excellence Award.

Singh, the Monsanto Chair in Soybean Breeding at Iowa State, collaborates across disciplines with fellow innovators, combining artificial intelligence and genetics to speed selection of crop varieties finely tuned to the needs of farmers now and in the future.

Two of our students took first and second place in the 2019 Darrel S. Metcalfe Student Journalism Contest through Students of Agronomy, Soils & Environmental Science (SASES). This contest promotes writing by undergraduate students on topics in agronomy, crop science, and soil science. Published rules of the contest listed content, readability, organization, figures/tables/images/illustrations, identification of sources, and neatness as the judging criteria.

Kaleb Baber placed first with "The Effects of Defoliation on the Nutritive Value of Common Forage Grasses."

Erin Stichter took second in the one-two sweep. Erin's piece was "Assessing the Potential for Soybean Yield Improvement Through Plant Architectural Modification."

Congratulations!

One senior in the Department of Agronomy is given the Outstanding Senior Award yearly. Students are selected based on high academic standing, leadership in activities (especially relating to agriculture and agronomy), and good character. The selection is made by members of the senior class in agronomy as well as advisors.

Our next senior spotlight is Tyler Flak.

After graduation, Tyler will be working as an agronomist for CNH Industrial. Tyler noted that his favorite class that he took at Iowa State was TSM 433 - Precision Agriculture.

"Have fun and take chances! At CALS Career Day don't leave until you have no more resumes left. That's how I landed an internship with a company I never thought would offer one for agronomy majors, but since I had one resume left I went to them and it lead to an internship which lead to a full time position," said Tyler.

Tyler also enjoyed his time studying abroad, especially with Dr. Burras.

"If it is your first time abroad, go with Dr. Burras. He makes it fun and you will really enjoy your first trip out of the country," said Tyler.

After a crazy past month with everything moving to online and our graduation ceremony being canceled, our seniors deserve some extra love!

Our next senior feature is Austin Day.

Austin will be graduating in May and will be heading out in the industry to work in agricultural marketing. During his time as an undergrad, Austin says his favorite class was Soil Conservation and Land Use.

"Even when classes get hard and you want to give up, keep pushing through. You'll get through your troubles quicker than you think," said Austin.

Best wishes in your new job and future endeavors, Austin!

On March 6 a former Iowa State professor was recognized for his ground-breaking work in plant breeding. Dr. Sherret Chase was presented the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Award for Sustained Excellence for sustaining a high level of excellence throughout the course of his distinguished career beginning with the development of the ‘monoploid method’ which contributed to a transformation in plant breeding, accelerating the speed of selection for desirable traits resulting in stronger strains of maize. Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Science Endowed Dean Daniel J. Robison presented the award at the Raymond F. Baker Plant Breeding Symposium held at the Iowa State Alumni Center.

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