Featured Student

While growing up in Inner Mongolia, China, Iowa State University Ph.D student Qi Mu developed a love of science at a young age.

She found her passion for genetics in high school and attended China Agricultural University for her bachelors of science in agronomy. After earning her masters at Ohio State studying tomato genetics and morphology, Ames was the place for her.

“I spent several months working as a lab technician to gain more experience. This experience helped me confirm my passion for research and reminded me how much I enjoyed learning new things every day,” Qi said. “I wanted to keep improving and therefore I started my Ph.D study in plant breeding at Iowa State University.”

The next meeting of the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) will be well represented by Cyclones, with multiple students—both undergraduate and graduate—who will be recognized for being accepted into the Borlaug Scholar program, including Cassie Winn, Hallie Longest and Clayton Carley.

The Borlaug Scholars program was established by the NAPB and is funded through the Agronomy Science Foundation. The goal is to strengthen the next generation of plant breeding science professionals, like the three Cyclones accepted into the program.

Soil science will offer a certificate between a minor and a major by providing official recognition for the focus area of study. A bachelor's degree from Iowa State University is not required to earn the certificate, and it is designed to match up with federal and state requirements to obtain a federal job classified for soil scientists and get licensure in states requiring it. 

Dr. Bradley Miller, assistant professor of agronomy, explains that the certificate requires 31 credits, but 22 of those may count from other academic programs that students are involved in. The certificate is built to help students have a strong foundation in understanding soil systems.

Ella Carlson, sophomore in agronomy, is spending her summer as a Yield Trial Intern for Beck's Hybrids in Marshalltown, Iowa.

"So far I have been involved with planting and early season note taking. During planting I sat on the planted and dumped seed packets to be planted," said Ella.

After everything was planted, Ella began taking early season notes along with three other people. She analyzed the corn to see if it was doing good, bad, or if something went wrong when planted. Her notes will help researchers know why there may be abnormalities in yields when harvested. The interns take notes for several hours and then they go back to Marshalltown day after day to watch the corn. 

Chase Krug, junior in agronomy, is spending his at Reiman Gardens as their Plant Collections Intern. Chase manages the garden's vast collection of diverse plants and provides the public with educational outreach.

"My summer internship project involves creating a backup germplasm collection of the Dr. Griffith Buck Rose Collection to ensure it is well preserved for future rose breeders as a valuable genetic resource for disease resistant rose germplasm," said Chase. "Dr. Griffith Buck was a famed former rose breeder and professor at Iowa State who created and introduced 90+ varieties of disease-resitant shrub roses."

Jenna Cowan, senior in agronomy, was looking forward to being a Digital Technology Manager Intern with WinField United, but her plans quickly changed when COVID-19 began affecting people across the country.

Instead of working directly with retailers to help integrate WinField United agricultural technology tools into their everyday conversations with growers, Jenna's title has transitioned to Agronomy Strategic Projects Intern. Jenna works as a virtual intern as part of the Sales Talent Development and Training division of WinField United.

Ryan Millikin is spending his summer interning with Dr. Mark Licht on campus in the Department of Agronomy. Ryan will be a senior this fall and is a transfer student from Hawkeye Community College.

Ryan explains that Mark has many projects for him to work on during this summer and there are also several graduate students working alongside him as well.

"Earlier this spring we focused on rye biomass. We would take biomass samples, put them in the dryer for 5-7 days, and then record biomass weights. After that, we out the samples through a grinder to later be sent away for nitrate analysis," said Ryan.

In this digital world, technology is becoming more prevalent in all aspects of life, and students at Iowa State University have utilized technology to gain the knowledge and tools that will help the world construct crops that can thrive in our ever-changing environment.

One of those students is Ashlyn Rairdin, who enrolled at Iowa State in fall of 2019, after studying biochemistry and graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I had always had an interest in engineering, but I have a larger interest in biology, so I chose that when I went to college,” Rairdin said.

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.

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