Featured Students

Learn about our programs and students. 

 

Graduate Students


Dan Quinn - Crop and Soil Sciences - Fall 2017

Kyle McCarthy - Wheat Breeding and Genetics - Spring 2017

Charlie Krasnow - Plant Pathology - Spring 2017

Natalie Kirkwyland - Potato Breeding and Genetic - Fall 2016

Christopher Bauer - Crop and Soil Sciences - Spring 2016

Alejandro Rojas - Plant Pathology - Spring 2015

Mike Swoish - Crop and Soil Sciences - Summer 2014

Paul Giordano - Plant Pathology - Spring 2014

 

Undergraduate Students

Grant Billings - Advanced Studies - Fall 2017

Madeline Henrickson - Agronomic Sciences - Spring 2017

Christopher Gillespie - Agronomic Scienes - Fall 2016

Ashley Wagar - Agronomic Sciences Concentration - Spring 2016

Erica Gremel - Crop and Soil Sciences - Spring 2015

Addison Spolyar - Agronomic Sciences - Summer 2014

 

Certificate Students

Pete Zieger - Turfgrass Management - Fall 2017

Brianna Wiemer - Agricultural Industries - Spring 2017

Timothy (T.J.) LeBlanc - Turfgrass Management - Fall 2016

Adam Retford - Agricultural Industries - Spring 2016

Trent Limban - Turgrass Management - Spring 2014

 

 

Certificate Students


Fall 2017 


Name: Pete ZeigerZeiger

Hometown: Brooklyn, MI

Adviser: Dr. John (Trey) Rogers III            

What is your Major or Certificate Program?

2 Year Golf Turfgrass Management

Why did you choose that major or program?

I always wanted to have my career revolve around sports and this fit. Also, I love working outside and really enjoy having a golf course as my office.

Future plans:

I am graduating in March and currently looking for an Assistant Superintendent position with my  goal of becoming a Golf Course Superintendent.

What or who inspired your interest in your program?

I never heard of the program until I talked to a family friend in the summer of 2015 who told me all about it. I did a little bit of research on my own and decided to enroll in the fall of 2015.

What has been your best experience in discipline listed above?

My favorite experience that I have had since enrolling has to be my summer internship at the Country Club of North Carolina. Having the ability to go anywhere for an entire                summer and learn hands-on what is being taught in class is a really cool perk that comes  with my program.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

Like any other college kid, I went to school for a couple different things and couldn’t find anything that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. I grew up mowing lawns throughout my neighborhood, so when I heard about the Turfgrass Management program at MSU it seemed like a good fit. Before my first semester, I started working at The Grande Golf Club in Jackson, MI and just fell in love with working at a golf course.

 

 

Spring 2017

Name: Brianna Wiemer''

Hometown: Tecumseh, MI

Adviser: Erin Bosch

What is your Major or Certificate Program? Ag Industries

Why did you choose that major or program?

I chose Ag Industries because it would give me a chance to come to my dream school, but also give me the time to figure out what I want to do for my future . So far I have really enjoyed my time here and all of the classes that I have taken in this first semester.

Future plans:

After the two year program, I am going to transfer into the 4 year program to study Crop and Soil Sciences. I am not sure what I would like to do with this yet, but I still have some time to figure it out.

What or who inspired your interest in your program?

I was in FFA for 3 years. My FFA advisor, Mrs. Lentz, told me that her brother was in the two-year program, and that he loved it. I applied and was accepted and I am very grateful for her recommendation. Being in FFA, I competed in the Crop Skills contest and absolutely LOVED what I got to learn in those three short years about soil science and agronomy. FFA, Mrs.Lentz and Mr. Stahl (another FFA Advisor) are what really sparked my interest in this program.  

What has been your best experience in the discipline listed above?

I have really enjoyed taking CSS101 and CSS101 Lab that goes along with it. I have learned so much more about Crop Science and this class/ lab is just the intro and it has shown me that this was the right choice for me to make.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

As stated above, FFA had a large impact in my agricultural experience. Being exposed to this side of agricultural is what really opened my eyes. I have never seen myself as a business type of person, but more the type of person that wants to know why and how things in ag are happening. The few classes that I've had this semester have been an absolute blast because it’s teaching me the why and the how.

 

Fall 2016

Name: Timothy (T.J.) LeBlancTimothy LeBlanc waters grass.

Hometown: Livonia, MI

Adviser: Dr. John R. Rogers, III

What is your Major, or Certificate Program?

Turfgrass Management

Why did you choose that major or program?

I’ve always loved the game of Golf, and MSU allows me to pursue a career that I’m not only passionate about, but also fits the lifestyle I want to lead.

Future plans:

I interned this summer at Meadowbrook Country Club in Novi, MI. I am graduating in the Spring of 2017, with goals of ultimately becoming a superintendent at a golf course.

What or who inspired your interest in your program?

Once upon a time I was on track to attend nursing school, but perspectives and life goals changed and I got a job on a course in Livonia, and worked under Doug Ware, a former Spartan grad. He really influenced me to expand my horizons in the two short years I was there, and ultimately referred me for admittance to MSU.

What has been your best experience in the discipline listed above?

My first semester at MSU was eye-opening. In a field where I thought I had a good footing, I realized I had barely scratched the surface. It took me from apprehensive about how to handle the workload that comes with school, to eager to dive in and really explore my new career.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

Simply put, my adventures and life experiences led me to discover what I find important in life, and PSM allows me to pursue something more than just a job or a career, but also the passions and life I want to lead with it.

 

Spring 2016

Name: Adam RetfordAdam Retford on a tractor at Retford farms.

Hometown: Owendale, MI

Adviser: Erin Bosch

What is your Major or Certificate Program?

Agricultural Industries Program

Why did you choose that major or program?

I chose this course of study because I grew up on a small family cash crop farm and have always had a great interest in the industry.

Future plans:

My future plans include continuing to operate our family owned farm where we grow corn, dry beans, wheat and sugar beets. I also plan to obtain employment off farm and would like to become an agronomist.  

What or who inspired your interest in your program?

Our farm has been in our family for over 100 years, so I have been inspired to farm during my whole life. I learned of this program through a close friend and after much research decided this program was well suited for my personal growth and career development for my future plans.

What has been your best experience in discipline listed above?  

I have learned about many types of farm practices and about precision farming. The courses offered atMSU have been very useful and it will be interesting to see how much improvements we will see in the future.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

I chose PSM because the program covers so many areas that I will use in the future. I am very happy with my decision and continue to enjoy my time at MSU.

 

Spring 2014 

Name: Trent M. Limban''

Hometown:
 Flint, MI

Adviser: Dr. John Rogers III

What is your Major, or Certificate Program?    Golf Turf Management

Why did you choose that major or program?  MSU turf has a very rich history of being an elite program in the area of turf management.

Future plans:   After graduation I would like to become an assistant superintendent at a high level golf facility.

What or who inspired your interest in your program?   My love for the outdoors and my blue collar hard work ethic. 

What has been your best experience in discipline listed above?  
My best experience has been the education and training I have received at MSU. Also, the bonds and relationships I’ve developed with other students has been very rewarding and a vital part of my success here at Michigan State. 

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?
Tradition and excellence of the program and my love for the outdoors. 

 

Undergraduate Students

Fall 2017 

Name: Grant Billings

Hometown: Florence, SC


Crop and Soil Sciences Concentration: Advanced Studies (w/ a second major from the College of Natural Science in Genomics and Molecular Genetics)


Adviser: Susan Gruber

Why did you choose this major and concentration? 
I chose a major in Crop & Soil Sciences to gain a deeper understanding of the feed, fiber, and food producers around the world.  I chose the Advanced Studies concentration because it provides the requisite scientific background along with involvement in many of the applied disciplines found under the umbrella of agronomy.

What are your future plans? 

I intend to pursue graduate studies in Plant Breeding, with the goal of finding work down the road in an applied crop breeding program.

What or who inspired your interest in your program?

Growing up, I was inspired by the endless acres of cotton and other crops dotting the Southern landscape.  On a trip to Disney World’s Epcot Center, though, I had the opportunity to see the Behind the Seeds tour, where I learned about integrative growing practices researchers were putting to use to solve sustainability issues.  After that, I found work at home at an Extension office, where I worked with cotton and stepped on a farm for the first time.

What has been the best experience in your major so far?

The field trips in CSS 480 Soil Resources offered unparalleled exposure to a wide array of natural environments, connecting back to the concepts we learned in class.  Additionally, the introductory lab course, 101L, allowed for me to see many crops first hand that I’d never seen before.  The systems and problem solving-approaches is common to all the classes.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences?

Everybody is talking about feeding a growing world, and a big part of that over the next century is going to be improved growing practices and  cultivars.  I want to be part of that revolution however I can.

What is the best selling point about your major that you would like others to know? 

The major has something for everybody: those interested in turf, graduate school, crop scouting, soil fertility management, and beyond.  You don’t need to come from a farm to be ready for the classes, and all you learn is applicable to your career, whatever path you wind up choosing.

 

 

Spring 2017''

Name: Madeline Henrickson

Hometown: Hopkins, MI

Crop and Soil Sciences Concentration: Agronomic Sciences

Adviser: Susan Gruber

Why did you choose this major and concentration?

Growing up on a 1,000-acre cash crop farm has allowed me to explore the possibilities and opportunities that agronomy offers. I really love the problem-solving nature of the potential careers associated with it.

What are your future plans?

My primary goal is to become an agronomist after I graduate. However, I will be completing an internship this summer that will enable me to decide if I would like to pursue a job in agronomy or further my education and work in research.

What or who inspired your interest in your program?

My father was the catalyst to my interest in agronomy. He allowed me to conduct three years of soybean research on our family farm. Over the course of my test plots, I developed a strong passion for agriculture as well as agronomic sciences. Needless to say, I was hooked the second I referred to my soybeans as “my babies”.

What has been the best experience in your major so far?

I really enjoy networking with companies and growers through the Agronomy Club. The more people you know, the more familiar you become with the industry.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences?

Overall, the PSM department has a massive impact on the world. I want to discover the most effective ways to feed our growing population on less land while conserving our limited resources. The PSM department has many opportunities for me to develop my studies and understanding of agriculture.

What is the best selling point about your major that you would like others to know?

The Crop and Soil Sciences community is close-knit and the environment is extremely friendly. You will get to know everybody in your major and develop numerous friendships. In addition, the Plant and Soil Sciences Department really cares about you as a student. Advisors and professors alike are always willing to help you succeed in your studies and life.

Fall 2016

Name: Christopher Gillespie     ''

Hometown: Champaign, IL

Crop and Soil Sciences Concentrations: Agronomic Sciences

Adviser: Karen Renner

Why did you choose this major and concentration?

I chose this major and concentration because "a farmer is someone who is outstanding in their field." As I hope to be one day soon!

What are your future plans?

Following undergrad, I have hopes of attending graduate school to earn my doctorate in agronomy and to advance in both agriculture and health fields. I would like to conduct research involving plants and their connection to the human physiology. I thirst to discover a connection, a bridge one might say, that integrates the world of agriculture and life sciences. Through this connection, I desire to unveil the knowledge necessary to address the growing epidemic of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In efforts to condense the effects of relapsing-remitting and chronic diseases (Multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, etc.), I wish to assist in the discovery of undisclosed novelty compounds which are derived from plants. Finally, I am intent on providing feed, food, and fuel for the projected population of 9 billion in the year 2050.

What or who inspired your interest in your program?

When I was a young boy, I recall an older fellow telling me these words "Go into agriculture, that is where the money is at!"

What has been the best experience in your major so far?

Apart from working with faculty, students, and agriculture organizations, my best experience has been my journey as a whole. Coming from a predominantly urban background, I entered the MSU Crop and Soil Science program with a less than ideal understanding of agronomy. However, from the moment I chose this program I have not only felt welcomed, but convinced that the path I have chosen is the correct one.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences?

I'm not going to lie, The College of Law was enticing to say the least, and nearly swallowed me whole! Though, while practicing law would perhaps polish my ego; Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences will without a doubt brighten the world.

Through Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences, I hope to facilitate the integration of other prominent applied sciences. Promoting efficiency in food, fuel, feed and discovering advances in cropping systems and crop physiology which in my opinion beats winning any old court case.

What is the best selling point about your major that you would like others to know?

In agronomy there is a place for everyone, from the writer and the salesmans, to the scientist and the politician. I have found this to be true not only in agronomy, but across many agriculture related fields. When one opens their eyes to agriculture, they discover the path to a multi-faceted future.

 

Spring 2016

Name: Ashley Wagar''

Hometown: Climax, MI

Crop and Soil Sciences Concentration: Agronomic Sciences

Adviser: Dr. Karen Renner

Why did you choose this major and concentration? My interest in crop and soil sciences came from growing up on my family’s cash crop farm.

What are your future plans? My future plans are to work as an agronomist, possibly focusing on the seed corn industry.

What or who inspired your interest in your program? Growing up on a farm and my involvement in 4-H has helped me find a passion within agriculture. This helped me to realize that I wanted to learn more about the agricultural industry.

What has been the best experience in your major so far?My summer internship was a great experience, the actual hands on aspect allowed me to exercise what I had learned in the class room. I also have enjoyed learning and seeing the different farming practices used across the state, while making new friends with similar interests.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences? I chose PSM because it will provide me with everything I need to know to become an agronomist. The professors are great to work with and my advisor is great at keeping me on track and helping me when needed.

What is the best selling point about your major that you would like others to know? If you are interested in agronomic sciences the classes are very helpful and informative.

 

 

Spring 2015''

Name: Erica Gremel

Hometown: Sebewaing, MI

Major / Concentration: Crop and Soil Sciences

Adviser: Dr. Karen Renner

Why did you choose this major and concentration?
I loved growing up on a farm, and want to give back to an industry that has given so much to me.

What are your future plans?
To become an agronomist focusing on precision agriculture and making appropriate fertilizer recommendations to local farmers and possibly return to work on the family farm

What or who inspired your interest in your program?
Growing up on a farm has instilled a passion for agriculture, and through FFA and 4-H I gained more knowledge of agromony and knew that I wanted to learn more.

What has been the best experience in your major so far?
Learning about the different farming practices across the state of Michigan, and gain hands on experience through my summer internships. This allows you to apply what you learn in the classroom on an everyday basis.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences?
I choose PSM because it covers everything I need to know to be a successful agronomist and farmer. The professors in the department are great to work with and my advisor, Dr. Karen Renner, makes sure that your time at Michigan State University is successful and rewarding.

 

 

Summer 2014

Name:   Addie Spolyar ''

Hometown:  Jonesville, MI

Major / Concentration:  Agronomic Sciences    

Adviser: Karen Renner

Why did you choose this major and concentration? 
I chose to be in the agronomic sciences sector of the PSM department because of my passion for the agricultural industry. This major offers you so many diverse career opportunities the opportunities are endless!

What are your future plans? 
After graduation I would like to work as a crop advisor focusing on crop protection. 

What or who inspired your interest in your program? 
My interest in this program stemmed from my involvement in Ag through 4-H and FFA programs. My FFA advisor, Erin Bosch, was a huge motivator for me to pursue this degree and really helped to expose me to all the opportunities within the agronomy field.

What has been the best experience in your major so far?
The best experience I have had in my major so far has been the summer internship I was fortunate to have last summer. I worked near Grand Rapids, MI for Helena Chemical Company as a sales and marketing intern. It was a great feeling to apply what you learn in the classroom to a real world setting.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences?
I really liked the curriculum in the Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences program. It gives you a strong base knowledge to enter into any career after graduation within the agronomy field. I also really enjoy working with my academic advisor, Karen Renner. Dr. Renner is a great advisor that really takes a vested interest in the success of your college career.

What is the best selling point about your major that you would like others to know?
A degree in Plant, Soil and Microbial Science is more valuable now than ever! With the growing demand for qualified employees in this industry, you will have the chance to be involved in one of the most dynamic fields out there with many opportunities available to you. 

 

Graduate Students

Fall 2017 

Name: Dan Quinn

Hometown: Portland, MI

Major Professor: Dr. Kurt Steinke

In what lab do you work in and what are you researching?

I work in the Steinke Lab helping perform research involving soil fertility and nutrient management across five different cropping systems. My graduate work involves evaluating various popular agronomic inputs (fertilizers, fungicides, growth regulators, etc.) across intensive and non-intensive management systems in wheat and soybean.

Future career plans:

After completion of my M.S. degree at Michigan State I am looking to pursue a Ph.D. degree at another institution, with a focus on soil fertility, applied agronomic management, and extension. Following the completion of my schooling I hope to become a lead agronomist in industry or at a university, with the goal of helping farmers maximize production, while enhancing agronomic management strategies.

What program are you in? Why did you choose that program?

The program I am in is Crop and Soil Science with a specialization in Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management.  I chose this program through working for Dr. Kurt Steinke and Research Technician Andy Chomas as an undergraduate where I discovered my passion for performing valuable and applied agriculture research.  I really enjoyed the program as an undergraduate research assistant which led me to where I am today.

What or who inspired your interest in Plant Science, Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, Weed Science, Plant Breeding and Genetics or other?

My Grandfather, a large-animal veterinarian, my Uncle, and influence of many other friends and family rooted in agriculture growing up in Portland really helped instill my love for agriculture growing up.  I did not directly grow up on a farm but was always told I had agriculture in my blood. Dr. Kurt Steinke, Andy Chomas, and Dr. Corey Guza also gave me valuable opportunities through internships as an undergraduate which really helped develop my interest and love for farming, agronomy, and the plant and soil sciences.  Without them I would not be where I am today. Farmers are the hardest working people in the world and being able to use my knowledge and research focus to help them in any way is what drives my interest and passion.

What has been your best experience in your program listed above?

The best experience in my program has been being exposed to, and having the opportunity to present at many different national and local scientific and extension meetings and speak directly with farmers and industry professionals.  Learning to perform good research is one thing, but being given the opportunity to learn how to effectively communicate that information to farmers and other agriculture professionals is the best experience I have had in my program.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

Growing up close to Michigan State University, and being exposed to this great University throughout my life, you learn immediately that MSU is the pioneer land grant institution that was originally built solely to teach agriculture. MSU is a world renowned institution for the plant and soil sciences, so once I had decided to study agricultural science, it was an easy decision to choose the Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences department at MSU.

 

 

Spring 2017''

 

Name: Kyle McCarthy

Hometown: Zionsville, Indiana

Major Professor: Dr. Eric Olson

In what lab do you work in and what are you researching?

I work in the wheat breeding and genetics laboratory. Our work seeks to produce improved wheat varieties for Michigan farmers by identifying sources of disease resistance, improved quality, and higher yields. Specifically, my research seeks to identify resistance to the fungal pathogens Stagonospora nodorum and Fusarium graminearum as well as identify contributions to yield from the D-genome of hexaploid wheat using the wild relative Aegilops tauschii.

Future career plans:

I would like to work as a commercial plant breeder following graduation.

What program are you in? Why did you choose that program?

I am in the Plant Breeding and Genetics program at Michigan State. I had my first exposure to plant breeding as an undergraduate intern and became interested because it is an applied, multi-disciplinary field that requires expertise in agronomy, genetics, and statistics.

What or who inspired your interest in Plant Science, Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, Weed Science, Plant Breeding and Genetics or Other?

My interest in plant breeding arose through several internships with agrochemical companies and undergraduate research experiences in school. Each experience was very positive, because of the leaders within them, and these mentors continue to inspire me to pursue scientific careers. Of course, I couldn’t forget Norman Borlaug. Everybody’s gotta eat, and that challenge is getting larger and larger every year.

What has been your best experience in your program listed above?

In the fall of 2015, the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences restarted the graduate student organization Association for Crop and Soil Sciences (ACRS). As part of the leadership board for the club, I feel like we have been able to improve the graduate experience here at Michigan State. The organization seeks to give back to the community inside and outside of the department through service activities, professional development, and social events. Turn out has been great thus far, and I’m really excited to see what the future will bring as we continue to grow and evolve.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

Michigan State University is the original land grant institution. The history and tradition here runs very deep, and the amount of talent is really outstanding. From a breeding perspective, Michigan wheat is somewhat overlooked even though it is an important component of this agricultural state. It is therefore very rewarding to know that your work feeds a direct need within the local community.

Spring 2017''

Name: Charlie Krasnow

Hometown: Newton, Massachusetts

Major Professor: Mary Hausbeck

In what lab do you work in and what are you researching?

I am in Mary Hausbeck’s lab and I am researching age-related resistance to Phytophthora, which is an economically important soil borne fungal-like organism. This pathogen affects squash and pumpkins and as the fruits age and mature they become more resistant to the pathogen. I am trying to figure out why that happens and how it can be optimized to improve disease management.

The other piece of what I am working on is fungicide management strategies for Phytophthora. This pathogen not only affects squash and pumpkins but also affects peppers, cucumbers, and some other vegetable crops and fungicide programs can greatly improve farmers yields.

Future career plans:

Currently, I am finishing up my PhD research and have started to apply to jobs in industry with seed and chemical companies such as Syngenta and Monsanto . I am also looking at jobs with the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

What program are you in? Why did you choose that program?

I am in the Plant pathology program. Originally I chose that department because as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts I worked in a plant pathology laboratory and I felt like this was a field where I wanted to continue to work.  The study of plant diseases and how to control them is an important component of the success of modern agriculture.

What or who inspired your interest in Plant Science, Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, Weed Science, Plant Breeding and Genetics or other?

When I was younger I really liked to work in my grandfather’s garden. He was an early adopter of composting and grew delicious vegetable. When I went to UMass Amherst, I was in the Plant and Soil Department and worked in the soil testing laboratory and a plant pathology laboratory, and that really got me interested in plant pathology. I had an internship with Monsanto and they encouraged me to pursue a graduate degree, so I decided to come to Michigan State.

What has been your best experience in your program listed above?

My best experience in the program would have to be finding that Phytophthora affects bio-fumigation cover crops that are used by farmers to control soil borne pathogens, (like Phytophthora). These crops are advertised as being able to help control diseases but that control is limited when Phytophthora infects the cover crop.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

When I was applying to graduate schools and I came to MSU and visited with Dr. Hausbeck, my current advisor., I really liked Dr. Hausbeck and I loved the campus. Having the plant pathology, plant biology, crop and soil departments all in the same area of campus showed me how important agriculture is in Michigan and also at Michigan State University.  Those factors cemented my desire to come to MSU.

 

Fall 2016

Name: Natalie Raissa KirkwylandNatalie Kirkwyland posing for picture.

Hometown: Dryden, NY

Major Professor: Dave Douches

In what lab do you work in and what are you researching?

As a member of the Potato Breeding and Genetics program, my project involves conducting potato improvement at the diploid level, either adapting wild diploid germplasm or using haploids generated from tetraploid cultivars. Specifically, I am interested in introducing self-compatibility to the largely self-incompatible diploid germplasm, generating inbred lines, and selecting for glandular trichome and glycoalkaloid mediated resistance to aphids, which vector economically devastating viruses, and the Colorado potato beetle, a defoliation menace.

Future career plans:

Upon completion of my PhD, I intend to seek a breeder position in industry.

What program are you in? Why did you choose that program?

I am within the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology program which I appreciate for its interdisciplinary nature and enhanced collaboration potential.

What or who inspired your interest in Plant Science, Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, Weed Science, Plant Breeding and Genetics or other?

My foray into agriculture began in my youth, growing up in a family greenhouse enterprise and to parents steeped in agricultural careers. My passion for cultivating crops was affirmed attending a small technical agronomic school in undergraduate and learning from the professors’ involvement in the farming, research, and industry communities. Their enthusiasm for plant science and eagerness to facilitate hands-on learning opportunities spurred me to pursue work experience in the field. It was as a research technician in the Cornell Small Grains Breeding Program, under the guidance of Mark Sorrells, David Benscher, John Shiffer, and James Tanaka, that I fell in love with the daily challenges and rewards of being a plant breeder.

What has been your best experience in your program listed above?

Making selections in the field during this past harvest season was incredibly fulfilling. It is a culminating experience that draws on your knowledge of the crop, agricultural practice, and genetics. Walking the plots, comparing the pedigrees with field observations, makes the whole breeding process incredibly tangible.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

The supportive and edifying culture of the department and caliber of research produced from the department members made my choice very easy. Such a cohesive and kind working environment makes it truly a joy to come to work every day.

 

Spring 2016

Name: Christopher Bauer''

Hometown: Reese, Michigan

Major Professor: Dr. Kurt Steinke

What lab do you work in and what are you researching?

I work in the soil fertility lab. I have two projects that I am researching: one on winter wheat and the other on sugarbeets. My main project was a two-year field experiment looking at the effects of planting date, Nitrogen Application Timing, and Nitrogen Application Rate on winter wheat growth and yield. My second study was also a two-year field experiment, and this project was conducted to observe the effects of enhanced efficiency fertilizers in comparison to standard nitrogen programs on sugarbeet yield and quality.

Future career plans:

I will be graduating in May 2016 with my Master’s Degree. I recently accepted a job working as a sourcing specialist with Nestle North America Procurement/Gerber Products Company in Fremont, MI.

What program are you in? Why did you choose that program?

I am in the Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Program. I chose this program because of my interests in agriculture and desire to assist growers in the future by improving their management programs.

What or who inspired your interest in Plant Science, Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, Weed Science, Plant Breeding and Genetics or Other?

Growing up on a farm made me realize how enjoyable it is to work in agriculture. Through this I learned that I wanted to continue to pursue a career in agriculture and be able to work with growers to give them assistance in improving their management programs. The people who inspired me to pursue an education in an agricultural degree were my parents, Mark and Collette Bauer, who run our farm at home with the assistance of my younger brother. My parents have shown me where a great work ethic can take you in life and have also made me realize the passion I have in wanting to continue my career in agriculture. When I was an undergraduate student, I had an internship with DuPont Pioneer, and this experience helped me realize that I wanted to continue my educational career and pursue a Master’s Degree.

What has been your best experience in your program listed above?

I have really enjoyed the research which we conduct and being able to talk with growers about their management programs in hopes of helping them make improvements. The meetings that I have spoken at as a graduate student were always a good experience as well because of the interaction I was able to have directly with growers and industry people from around the area.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?

The reason I chose this department was because of my passion for agriculture. I knew MSU was the right place to pursue my goal of attaining a Master’s Degree with the agricultural history of this college, and the success of many students coming out of this department gave me the confidence that this was the right fit for me.



Spring 2015

Name: J. Alejandro Rojas''

Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia

Major Professor: Dr. Martin Chilvers

In what lab do you work in and what are you researching?
Field crop pathology; focus on the fungal/oomycete genetics and biology.  My current project covers different aspect of the oomycetes ecology and biology in the context of multidisciplinary project funded by USDA-NIFA. My project started with the characterization of the different oomycete species associated with soybean seedling diseases across the soybean producing area in the Midwest.  We conducted survey using a culture-based approach and collected metadata to determine diversity-driving factors.  My project also profile the pathogenicity/virulence of 82 different oomycete species found and I am also working on the development of molecular diagnostics, including quantitative PCR and isothermal PCR.  In addition, the project also involves the development of amplicon-based community analyses to understand the diversity of oomycete species in soybean fields associated with disease at early plant stages.

Future career plans:
My career has been focus on fungal and oomycete biology, so my plan is to keep addressing questions about the biology and genetics of these organisms employing tools such as genomics, metagenomics, population genetics and phylogenetics.  I hope to continue working in the academia or industry to continue developing research on this area to help solve some of the questions that we have about oomycetes and their interaction with different plant systems.

What program are you in?
I am in the Plant Pathology program within the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. 

What or who inspired your interest in Plant Science, Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, Plant Breeding and Genetics or Other? My major for my undergrad was microbiology and that gave me the opportunity to have exposition to different fields including plant pathology and mycology, during this process I had the opportunity to work with very intelligent and supportive mentors that guide through my process, who taught me very well and cultivated in my the love for science, but specially the love for fungi and oomycetes! Dr. María Caridad, Dr. Silvia Restrepo and Dr. Adriana Bernal were the ones that supported my career and many other students in this area.  Since then different has play important role in my career including my other advisors, Dr. Kirk and currently Dr. Chilvers, who has really supported all my work and gave an great opportunity to work in such a large and interesting project addressing different questions that relate to my interest in these organisms and their role in the agriculture.

What has been your best experience in your program listed above? 
There is not one, but many experiences that I would like to mention.  However, the program itself has given me the opportunity to interact with different researchers from my field and other fields opening my perspective of how a multidisciplinary approach can address issues that we think that only present in our filed.  My current project is the best example since it is part of grant that involves plant pathologists, breeders, geneticist, molecular biologists and even economists that try to address the impact of oomycetes in an important crop such as soybean.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences? 
First of all, MSU is pioneer land grant college and PSMS is multidisciplinary department that could play an important role in the career of an aspiring researcher broadening my experiences. The department allows students to pursue research projects in a wide array of agricultural settings including microbiology, ecology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and beyond. These  factors and diversity inspired me to choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.

 

Summer 2014

 

Name:  Mike Swoish          

Hometown:  North Branch, MI

Major Professor:  Dr. Kurt Steinke

In what lab do you work in and what are you researching?
Soil Fertility Lab, studying the effect of fertilizer and cover crop interaction on soybean and the soil microbial communities.

Future career plans:
Continue my education and receive a PhD, hopefully followed by a career in consulting or policy making.

What program are you in:  Crop and Soil Sciences (CSS). 

Why did you choose that program?
I chose it because I think there is still much to be discovered about the soil, and I find it very interesting.

What or who inspired your interest in CSS?
My cousin Travis encouraged me to take a Crop and Soils class, and after taking CSS 101 with Dr. Renner I knew I was more interested in agriculture than in my previous course of study. I changed my major and have been enjoying it ever since! Family and friends in my hometown that are involved with agriculture also influenced my decision to make the switch.

What has been your best experience in your program? 
I have really enjoyed the opportunity to travel around the country and attend informational meetings related to agronomy and soil fertility. The traveling has really opened my eyes to how practices and ideas differ in different regions.

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences? 
The switch to PSM was an easy decision for me once I became aware of career opportunities available in a field that was interesting to me as well as important on a global level.

 

Spring 2014

Name:  Paul Giordano''
 
Hometown:
  Westland, Michigan

Major Professor:  Dr. Joseph M. Vargas Jr.
  
 
In what lab do you work in and what are you researching?  Turfgrass Pathology. My research is focused on characterizing a new bacterial disease on golf courses. The disease is caused by a pathogen (Acidovorax avenae) our lab identified a few years ago for the first time on turfgrass. The project involves not only field studies, but growth chamber, greenhouse, and lab experiments aimed at the basic epidemiology and molecular identification of this enigmatic problem on creeping bentgrass. 

Future career plans:  I aspire to continue to solve the most pressing problems facing the turfgrass industry through research and outreach. Luckily, there are many opportunities to pursue my passion for turfgrass science and pathology in both academic and private industry positions. 

What program are you in?  I am in the Plant Pathology program within the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.  

Why did you choose that program?  Working on golf courses at an early age, I realized just how devastating plant pathogens can be to a beautiful stand of turfgrass, as well as a constrained maintenance budget. As my responsibilities grew, I found that a vast majority of my time was spent scouting and managing fungal diseases. The opportunity to conduct meaningful research related to disease management on turf made my choice of plant pathology an easy one.  

What or who inspired your interest in Turfgrass Pathology?
The golf course superintendents that I have worked under in the past initially piqued my interest in agronomy and plant pathology in general. Dr. Vargas has played an integral role in molding my passion for plant pathology and has allowed me the freedom as a graduate research assistant to address some unique and interesting problems. 

What has been your best experience in your program listed above?  It would be difficult to choose one experience. My best experiences have been the culmination of all of the opportunities I have been given. Not only has my research rewarded me with a valuable skill set, the results have had wide reaching impacts in the turf industry. I have had chances to speak at conferences around the world, and to even teach turf management in China. All of these experiences would likely not have been offered to me if I did not join the graduate program in plant pathology at Michigan State University. 

Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?
Plant pathology is so multi-disciplinary, I felt the latitude the department offered to an aspiring researcher would broaden my experiences as well as my eventual career prospects. The discipline allows students to pursue research projects in a wide array of agricultural settings employing principles of agronomy, soil science, plant biology, microbiology, ecology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and beyond. This diversity of topics and convergence of research interests is what inspired me to choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. 

 

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