4 students named recipients of Milton E. Mohr Awards Program for Biotechnology

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Rodger Farr, left, Chad Lammers, Thais Egreja and Dinesh Panday named recipients of Milton E. Mohr Awards Program for Biotechnology
Rodger Farr, left, Chad Lammers, Thais Egreja and Dinesh Panday named recipients of Milton E. Mohr Awards Program for Biotechnology.

Four Department of Agronomy and Horticulture students have been named recipients of Milton E. Mohr 2018–2019 Awards. These awards recognize outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in the sciences of biotechnology and engineering based on their academic performance and potential for accomplishments in their specific field.

Thais Egreja, plant pathology doctoral student, and Dinesh Panday, agronomy doctoral student specializing in soil and water sciences, were awarded graduate fellowships.

Egreja’s research aims to study plant-microbe interactions using metatranscriptomics to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the interaction among phytopathogenic bacteria, their plant hosts and the plant microbiome. Metatranscriptomics is an emerging field that focuses on characterizing patterns of gene expression displayed by both the host and their microbial communities using RNA extracted directly from sample and subsequently high-throughput sequenced.

Egreja is advised by Josh Herr, assistant professor of plant pathology.

Panday’s research is focused on evaluating the effects of char in nitrogen management in agricultural soils of semi-arid western Nebraska through field and laboratory experiments at the Panhandle Research and Agriculture Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. He is also using active and passive sensors to detect corn nitrogen stress, predict grain yield, determine in-season and additional side-dress application of nitrogen fertilizer and reduce environmental impacts.

Panday is advised by Bijesh Maharjan, assistant professor of agronomy and soil and nutrient management specialist at PHREC, and Richard Ferguson, agronomy and horticulture professor and interim department head.

Scholarships were awarded to undergraduates Rodger Farr and Chad Lammers.

Farr, a senior agronomy major from Stockville, Nebraska, plans to pursue a graduate degree in weed science. He is advised by associate professor John Guretzky.

Lammers, a sophomore plant biology major with a focus on biotechnology, is from Hartington, Nebraska. He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in genetics and to one day establish his own plant breeding program. He will be an intern this coming summer at Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. in York, Nebraska, working in plant breeding.

Lammers will be working on a UCARE project titled “Elucidating the Effects of Domestication and Modern Breeding on Root Plasticity for Drought Adaptation in Wheat” beginning fall 2018. UCARE supports university undergraduates to work one-on-one with faculty researcher advisors in research or creative activities.

The Milton E. Mohr Scholarship and Fellowship Awards Program was established in 1989 for students in the College of Engineering or biotechnology degree programs. The scholarships and fellowships are made possible through an endowment to the University Foundation.

Mohr was described in his lifetime as an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, corporate leader and instrumental in providing key leadership to young adults. In 1938, he graduated highest in his class from Nebraska with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. In 1959, Nebraska awarded him an honorary doctorate of engineering. He was president and CEO of Quotron Systems, formerly Bunker Ramo Corporation, an electrical engineer, corporate executive and philanthropist. He was named America's Most Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer in 1948.

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