3 grad students take top soil research honors
Graduate students Kristin Staats and Amy Shober each received a J. Fielding Reed Fellowship from the Potash and Phosphate Institute (PPI). Graduate student Jennifer Gilbert was awarded the L.R. Ahuja Agricultural Systems Modeling Fellowship from the Soil Science Society of America. All three are students in UDs Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.
Staats, who is completing her masters degree this summer in environmental soil chemistry under the direction of Donald Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Soil Chemistry, said she won the $2,500 award for research on phosphate. Since her sophomore year at the University, Staats has been studying phosphate, particularly in the field of nutrient management. Nutrient management plays a significant role in determining how farmers conduct business and whether or not they will remain profitable.
Agriculture is an integral part of our health as a nation, Staats said. Answering questions that can improve crop production and waste management will dramatically improve this sector of our economy, as well as mitigate the environmental impacts of agricultural practices.
Shober, another winner of a J. Fielding Reed Fellowship, is advised by Tom Sims, T. A. Baker Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry and CANR associate dean for research. Currently in the third year of her Ph.D. program at UD, Shober is investigating how the chemical forms of phosphorus in animal manures and municipal biosolids affect the potential for phosphorus pollution of ground and surface waters. Shober plans to pursue a career as a research soil scientist.
My major goal will be to enhance agricultural productivity, while minimizing negative environmental impacts, Shober said.
Gilbert, also advised by Sims, won a $5,000 fellowship for her research on controlling phosphorus pollution from agricultural lands to surface waters though the use of vegetated filter strips (VFS).
Gilbert is pursuing her doctorate in soil chemistry and nutrient management at UD and said she hopes to one day teach at the university level.
Id like to develop a program to get undergraduate students involved in research opportunities, she says. Id also like to be involved with the development of environmental policy measures that prevent water pollution in both urban and agricultural settings.
Photos by Danille Quigley
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