Applied Plant Systems

Applied Plant Systems group with Justin McMechan, Extension Assistant Professor
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About the Program

The goal of this program is to prepare students with both knowledge and skills necessary to address the grand challenges of food production and the environment. Participating students will conduct a summer experiential internship related to his or her career interests and goals, choosing from a variety of programs in the applied plant, soil, and environmental sciences available through a network of collaborators. The students will also work with their program peers and a team of faculty mentors to engage in activities related to teamwork, decision making, systems thinking, and translating their summer work into learning objects for science literacy.

Program Objectives

  • Growth in teamwork, decision making, & scientific process competency
  • Connect research/experience to agricultural and natural resources challenges
  • Translating experience into information- science literacy & outreach
Applied Plant Systems program framework.
Applied Plant Systems program framework.

Internships and Student Activities

Once students are selected for participation in the program, they will be matched to an internship and a corresponding mentor. In the internship experience, students will be mentored to work with a hypothesis testing approach if their experiential learning is research focused or a predicted outcome approach for service and technology projects. We will ask students to document how they are using science knowledge and learning research skills in their day-to-day internships. They will have targeted goals for their skills and a weekly decision making inventory of how the science or its application that underpins the discipline is a part of their work and how they make decisions based on this science. Internships will be offered at an array of locations and institutions, including two USDA-ARS units located on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus, the USDA-NRCS Charles Kellogg Soil Survey Laboratory (KSSL) located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and several industry partners.

Applied Plant Science Students

Applied Plant Science Students

Program Team Members

Martha Mamo

Mamo has considerable experience mentoring students in creative activities related to teaching, research, outreach, and study abroad. Mamo led the APS program from 201-2021 and will be the lead director and coordinator of the proposed program and will co-lead in student recruitment, selection and mentoring.

Martha Mamo

Professor, Agronomy and Horticulture

Bio Information

S. Carolina Córdova

Córdova has a track record of mentoring a diverse group of undergraduate of field and lab researchers, as well as K-12 teachers through the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and K-12 Partnership. Córdova has served as a bilingual (English-Spanish) teaching assistant, instructor, and co-instructor. Córdova will co-lead in student recruitment, selection, and mentoring. She will also co-lead the Tours with focus on how Extension engagement works to transfer knowledge to users but also to guide research questions from stakeholder feedback.

S. Carolina Córdova

Assistant Professor, Agronomy and Horticulture

Bio Information

Helen Fagan

Fagan is the Coordinator of the Rural Fellows Program for Rural Prosperity Nebraska at UNL. Founder of Global Leadership Group, she has provided workshops and training in DEI for students, community leaders, organizational leaders, and executives in four continents. Fagan will provide DEI workshops and training for the students and their mentors.

Helen Fagan

Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication

Bio Information

Jennifer Keshwani

Keshwani is a biological systems engineer. She has experience working with students and teachers to develop curricular resources related to STEM and agriculture. Dr. Keshwani will work with Leah Sandall to coordinate student efforts to develop outreach/extension products and teach students how to communicate their scientific knowledge to a broad audience.

Jennifer Keshwani

Associate Professor and Science Literacy Specialist, Biological Systems Engineering

Bio Information

Julie Bray-Obermeyer

Bray-Obermeyer leads a team in coordinating efforts centered around career exploration and discovery, internships, experiential learning, and the full-time job search. She has been a part of the CASNR leadership team to establish an online networking and mentorship tool. Obermeyer will provide workshops and training that assist mentors and students in the development of employability skills.

Julie Bray-Obermeyer

Director of CASNR Career Development and Corporate Relations

Leah Sandall

Sandall has worked with students in the classroom and online and has experience developing online educational resources related to STEM and agriculture. Examples of these resources include video segments and online learning environments on the Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary (PASSeL). Sandall co-facilitated and co-led the outreach/extension products development by students in the APS program in 2017-2021 and will continue in the same role for APS.2 program.

Leah Sandall

Associate Professor of Practice, Agronomy and Horticulture

Bio Information

Daniel Uden

Uden, Assistant Professor, Resilience Spatial Scientist, and member of UNL’s Center for Resilience in Working Agricultural Landscapes, trains undergraduate students to apply systems thinking and resilience concepts to grand challenges at the intersection of ecology and agriculture. Dr. Uden will co-lead a Decision Making and Systems Thinking Think Tank and will connect students to rangeland ecology and management research opportunities at UNL’s Barta Brothers Ranch.

Daniel Uden

Assistant Professor, Agronomy and Horticulture

Bio Information