Agronomy Graduate Awards: Congrats!

April 25, 2019

Congrats to our Graduate Students John Jones and Mauricio Tejera!

John Jones was the recipient of our Teaching Excellence Award. The purpose of this award to is recognize and encourage outstanding achievement by graduate students in teaching. John teaches our Agronomy 354 Soil and Plant Growth and he currently is assistant coach of the Iowa State University soil judging team.  

“My goal for every interaction with students is to guide them towards a more inquisitive and comprehensive understanding of soil. Displaying my enthusiasm and interest in soil science while delivering concise and informative subject matter led students to discover their individual interests in soils. Incorporating recent research findings into course content and exercises was an excellent way of connecting soil and plant analysis concepts to cutting edge basic and applied science. I always strive to return abstract thought about soil systems back to functional agronomics. Guiding students to realize where their passion lies, and then building upon that with the possibilities that soil science can provide is a primary objective of mine. Utilizing resources from the Iowa State Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) helped me to improve many aspects of how I teach as well,” John said about his qualifications.

John’s research focuses on managing crop-essential nutrients for optimum agronomic utilization, while minimizing water quality impairments. The objective of his PhD program work includes studying soil test methodologies for phosphorus and assessing soil and phosphorus loss from Iowa cropping systems. Many of his principle components of his work align with subject matter of the courses he teaches.

Soil, water, and plant analysis are foundational components of the work carried out by his research group, and so teaching these concepts are a great extension of his research focus. Working directly in the process of determining soil-test interpretations for Iowa allowed him to share with the students all the facets of soil fertility recommendation systems within the state and beyond.

John would like to thank Amber Anderson, Marshall McDaniel, and Renuka Mathur for the opportunities to instruct students under their guidance, and all his former students for allowing him to be a part of their educational journey.



Mauricio Tejera was the recipient of our Research Award! The purpose of these awards is to recognize graduate students for outstanding research accomplishments as documented in their theses and dissertations. These students are also expected to be academically superior and able to not only do research, but develop a well written product.

Mauricio is working towards his PhD, where he began his journey in 2014. He will be graduating this summer. He works with Emily Heaton. Mauricio’s research has been focused on trying to understand hwo perennial grasses age (if they do). For example, it’s simple to distinguish between young and old individuals but in plants it’s tricky. He studies age-related changes, how they impact yield, and what possible management practices could be applied to revert aging dynamics.