Lana Koepke Johnson | Agronomy and Horticulture
Bill Kreuser, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture and Nebraska Extension turfgrass specialist, was presented with the Emerging Innovator of the Year award during the NUTech Ventures 2018 Innovator Celebration Nov. 6 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.
The Emerging Innovator of the Year award recognizes a junior faculty member for recent contributions as an up-and-coming innovator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Kreuser created GreenKeeper, a decision support software tool based on research from university turf experts to help turfgrass professionals manage and schedule the application of fertilizers and other turf products. Working with Nutech Ventures, Kreuser launched a startup company, TurfGrade, to continually improve the user experience, add the latest research and cover growing operating expenses. The company vision is to transform how the turf industry makes daily decisions as turf research is discovered and shared with the world. For more on how Kreuser’s turfgrass tool reaches customers worldwide, see NuTech Ventures story.
Kreuser’s interest in turf grass science began in high school when he installed a putting green in his parent’s backyard. Thinking he wanted to be a golf course superintendent, he became involved in undergraduate research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison which evolved into a career of turfgrass research and extension. Kreuser received his doctoral degree in horticulture from Cornell University.
Many of the features in the first release of GreenKeeper were developed during his undergraduate research. Kreuser thought the models they were building were helpful but they needed a way to put them in the hands of turfgrass managers. The first versions were built in Microsoft Excel but moved to a website when resources provided by Nebraska became available. Now the website can automatically access weather data and notify users of changes at their facility.
According to Kreuser, what matters to golf course managers is making sure those greens and fairways are up to par.
“My whole goal is to develop knowledge and tools to help people do their job. This is a high-stress job. When you can help people alleviate some of that stress and manage their turf better, it really can be helpful and it’s really satisfying to me,”Krueser said.
Kreuser still has a backyard putting green and manages it using GreenKeeper.
The annual celebration, which is part of the fall Nebraska Research Fair, features faculty who have worked with NUtech to commercialize promising new technologies, including faculty who have launched their own companies.
NUtech Ventures is the university’s intellectual property and technology commercialization unit. NUtech’s mission is to facilitate the commercialization and practical use of innovations generated through Nebraska research activities to promote economic development and improve quality of life.