Department

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.

Imagine working alongside Cinderella and Indiana Jones. Elizabeth Schnicker, sophomore in agronomy, has an internship at "The Most Magical Place On Earth."

As a plant science intern with Walt Disney World at Epcot in the Living With The Land greenhouses, Schnicker’s position is research focused and largely behind the scenes. While other interns are in charge of greenhouses for specific shows in the park, Schnicker is focused on the plants.

Our Bradley Miller has been awarded the Dan Yaalon Young Scientist Medal by the International Union of Soil Sciences. Miller's current work in Agronomy advances the quantitative evaluation of spatial variations in environmental processes that affect the distribution of soil properties and how it impacts environmental quality and sustainable crop production.

Dr. David W. Staniforth (1919-1984) was a pioneer in the field of weed science. His research efforts helped to shape the effective weed control systems used by farmers today. His experience spanned the development of modern herbicide technology, beginning with work on the mode of action of 2,4-D and continuing through refinements in weed control systems including the development of weed control for conservation tillage.

By Ellen Bombella, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

Ken Moore led the development of a distance education program in agronomy 19 years ago and this year he received the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Distance Education in Teaching Award for his hard work.

There have been a lot of changes in technology since Moore started the program. One of the first roadblocks was the students' ability to access the internet. When the program began in 1998, it was very expensive for students to use the internet and online courses were not common.

by Ellen Bombella, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

Sotirios Archontoulis' curiosity about crops, soil and weather started at a very young age when he was growing up in Greece. He remembers going to the fields with his father, who was a farmer, in the heat of the afternoon to see if the crops needed watered.

"I thought to myself, there has to be a better way than this," Archontoulis said. "I was motivated to pursue agronomy because the farmers had to make important decisions without help."

Mike Owen grew up in Ames. His dad was a faculty member for the Atomic Energy Commission during the “Little Ankeny Project.”

“I grew up one house down from David Staniforth,” says Owen. “I started working on his crew in high school.”

After high school, he became a botany major at Iowa State. In 1970 he left Iowa State for a wrestling scholarship at another university. Due to an injury he gave up the scholarship and was drafted for the Vietnam War in 1971. Owen did a pre-induction physical and was accepted into the Army. He returned to Iowa State Spring Semester of 1971 and regained his student deferment.

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