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."
Archontoulis is an assistant professor in agronomy and the recipient of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Early Achievement in Research Award. During his first three years at Iowa State he has had several accomplishments. He's a leader of several major projects, bringing in more than $5 million in grant funding and publishing more than 30 articles.
His projects include real-time measurements and forecasts for soil, weather nitrogen within soil and water; simulating agriculture systems; and a research project to improve simulations of water dynamics and crop yield in the Corn Belt.
Another factor that drives his research is his desire to learn and acquire new information.
"I like research because it is a discovery game," Archontoulis said. "You can have your hypothesis and design an experiment, and no matter what the answer is, you are going to learn something and those answers will drive you to the next hypothesis."
Archontoulis said his work doesn't necessarily belong in just one category.
"My research is somewhere in between different disciplines like crop science, soil science, plant breeding and I'm somewhere connecting the different disciplines in the analysis," Archontoulis said.
Archontoulis said he appreciates the award.
"This is among the first award I've received in my life," Archontoulis said. "It gives me courage, energy and motivation to continue on this path."
Archontoulis received his bachelor's degree in 2004 from the University of Thessaly, Greece. He received both his master's and Ph.D. degree from Wageningen University in the Netherlands in 2006 and 2011 from the department of plant science.
Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will present awards to faculty and staff on March 8 at its Spring-Semester Convocation and Awards Program in the Memorial Union.