The National Association of Plant Breeders announced their first group of graduate and undergraduate Borlaug Scholars, and our students took three of the eight awards. Our Katelyn Fritz and Andrew Herr, juniors in Agronomy, were selected Borlaug Undergraduate Scholars. Our Kevin Falk, graduate student with Dr. Asheesh (Danny) Singh, was selected Borlaug Graduate Scholar.
"Borlaug increased yield and got calories to everyone," said Fritz. "I want to leverage breeding to make those calories more nutricious."
A former Borlaug intern, Fritz spent the summer interning with Semilla Nueva in Guatemala studying biofortification of rice. In addition, she is the Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Science national president. She works for Dr. Mark Gleason's lab working with genetic diversity of a fungus.
"I'd really like to get my Ph.D. in plant breeding and work in research at a private lab," said Herr.
Herr's dedication and passion for plant breeding brought him to Dr. Jianming Yu's corn breeding program in August 2016. Herr works as a student hourly heavily involved in all aspects of the plant breeding process and is working on an undergraduate research project looking at root traits of corn. Last summer he interned with Dow AgriScience at the breeding station near Nevada, Iowa. He will continue his research project with Dr. Yu this summer.
"A plant breeder, agronomist and humanitarian, Dr. Norman Borlaug's success came from exhaustive field research coupled with continuous innovation," said Kevin. "I'm honored to be selected for an award that bears the name of Iowa's own Nobel Laureate and a father of the Green Revolution."
Kevin works with Dr. Asheesh Singh's soybean research team. Specifically, Kevin is looking at the genetic traits of root systems among varieties of soybeans. You can read more about Kevin's research in the last issue of STORIES.
The Borlaug Scholars program is established by the NAPB and funded through the Agronomic Science Foundation (ASF) to develop the plant breeding science professions by strengthening the next generation of leaders.