Research Excellence Award earned by Mitch Baum

October 2, 2020

Graduate student Mitch Baum has been awarded the Agronomy Department’s Research Excellence Award for his work in quantifying the optimum planting dates in his graduate research lab.

Hailing from Bondurant, Mitch Baum originally came to Iowa State University like many others—to major in engineering. But the call of agronomy proved to be powerful, and Baum quickly switched majors. going on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and now pursuing his doctorate.

The practicality of agronomy research is what draws Baum’s interests.

“I feel like. A lot research can get lost or doesn’t apply to anybody, but agricultural research feels like you can actually make a difference, your results apply to real people,” Baum said.

While he worked on his master’s degree, he got the opportunity to be employed by a couple different research groups on campus, and it was here that he realized he wanted a career in Agronomy research.

“One of those was Dr. Sotirios Archontoulis’s lab,” Baum said. “He knew that I was looking for a master’s position and offered me the job. After I completed my master’s, I also started my doctorate with him.”

It was Archontoulis that nominated Baum for the award in research excellence that he eventually won. The research that won him the award was centered around calculating the optimum planting date by cultivar relative maturity group interaction.

To do that they extrapolated the results of a biophysical cropping model (APSIM) across the entire state. Baum calibrated the model using 7 field studies across Iowa.

“Optimum planting dates changing pretty rapidly based on where you live. Essentially what we were doing was trying to fit a cultivar’s lifespan to the environment it was growing in, based on its maturity,” Baum said.

Baum knows the award he won was a team effort though.

I am very grateful [for this award],” Baum said. “All of the work I’ve done I have received help on, and I wouldn’t have been able to win this award without the help of Sotirios Archontoulis and the help of my other co-advisor Mark Licht and a handful of other members too. I wasn’t just me; it was a group effort.”