Seth Rickey, ANR19.

Investing in Solutions

We’ve all seen the headlines about produce recalls and health scares due to bacterial contamination. But how do we stop them? Seth Rickey, ANR19, wanted to help answer just that as he spent the summer of 2018 as a University of Delaware Extension Scholar, researching how Listeria infects lettuce.

“I studied how lettuce plants can become contaminated through soil, serve as an intermediate host and then infect people when they eat it,” Rickey said. “We observed possible points of entry so we can  find solutions to prevent contamination moving forward.”

While the research itself is crucial to making discoveries that will have a wide-reaching impact, it was the experience in the lab that made the biggest difference for Rickey. He was able to put into practice similar elements he was learning about in his plant pathology course while getting a taste for what it’s like to conduct research in a lab.

“The summer research was such a great experience, using different tools to conduct research and learning more about presenting the results,” Rickey said. “But it also helped me realize I don’t want to do research in a lab in the future—I’d rather do it in the field. I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t have this opportunity.”

“I’m really impressed by the level of curiosity Seth and the scholars we support have about their research topics. Ultimately, it all really comes down to helping people. Research enhances their academics by taking what they learn theoretically in a class and allowing them to apply it in the lab or field. Any time you can combine academics and practical experience, you broaden a student’s horizon.”

It’s that transformational benefit of hands-on learning that helps motivate Charles Allen, III, ANR71, and his wife, Barbara, to support Rickey and other Extension Scholars in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“I’m really impressed by the level of curiosity Seth and the scholars we support have about their research topics. Ultimately, it all really comes down to helping people,” Allen said. “Research enhances their academics by taking what they learn theoretically in a class and allowing them to apply it in the lab or field. Any time you can combine academics and practical experience, you broaden a student’s horizon.”

As an engaged alumnus, former Board of Trustee member and Alumni Wall of Fame recipient, Allen is invested in seeing Blue Hens and UD’s programs grow and succeed. And as the retired CEO of Allen Harim Foods, Inc. and affiliates, he knows firsthand how the agriculture industry plays a crucial role in today’s and tomorrow’s society.

“UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is providing students with innovative facilities, a farm for animal and crop research and offering new learning opportunities at the UD Creamery,” Allen said. “It’s really encouraging to hear what the students are doing with support and all they are learning through their research. It impacts so much every day—if you eat three meals a day, you better thank someone in the world of agriculture.”