Lammers uses research, activities at Nebraska to forge future

Friday, May 8, 2020

Fran tenBensel Benne | Agronomy and Horticulture

Chad Lammers
Husker senior Chad Lammers balances work on the family farm in Hartington, Nebraska, with completing a Bachelor of Science in plant biology and a minor in agronomy online from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. | Photo courtesy of Claire Schilmoeller

University of Nebraska–Lincoln senior Chad Lammers will finish college with more than a degree.

He will graduate May 9 virtually, along with more than 3,500 Huskers, and receive a Bachelor of Science in plant biology. Following graduation, he will begin work on a master’s degree in agronomy at Kansas State University.

As he enters graduate school, Lammers will bring with him a wealth of knowledge and experiences forged through hands-on research, creative activities and opportunities from Nebraska which have helped shape his life and steer him toward a career in weed science.

Lammers moved back to his family farm near Hartington, Nebraska, in March when university classes moved online. He managed to fit in class work, exams and finish his degree, among calving, planting and babysitting his niece and nephew.

“I’ve been busy on the farm, but my transition to online classes went fairly smooth because I'd taken a few online classes in the past,” he said. “I’ve now come to have a deeper appreciation for in-person classes.”

Chad Lammers with tractor
Chad Lammers gets a tractor ready for planting on the family farm. | Photo courtesy of Claire Schilmoeller

He was a Teaching Assistant for Agronomy 132 Agronomic Plant Science Lab in the fall for Meghan Sindelar, assistant professor of practice in agronomy and horticulture. Lammers worked with another TA to lead each lab section through lab activities that taught practical agronomic applications of plant biology and assisted with activities both in the classroom and in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture teaching garden outside.

In April, Lammers was chosen for the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America’s National Student Recognition Program.

Every year, top-notch undergraduate seniors are selected for the National Student Recognition Award based on their scholarship, leadership and involvement. Recipients are recognized in the April issue of CSA News, the official monthly magazine of the three societies. They also receive a plaque and the opportunity to apply for the Frank D. Keim Graduate Fellowship.

According to Lammers, the best thing about being a Husker was representing the university at crop judging contests on the UNL Crops Judging Team and recruiting new members. Active for several years in university judging teams, Lammers was also a member of the undergraduate Weed Science Team that placed second in the North Central Region at the National Weed Science Contest in 2019.

He served as assistant treasurer for the Agronomy Club and participated in club activities and committees for four years. He and fellow club member Jared Stander took first place in the Students of Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Sciences Club Poster Competition at the ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in November. The poster was titled “Experience Agronomy Day, Training the Future of Nebraska Agronomy.”

Advised by Harkamal Walia, Heuermann Chair of Agronomy and associate professor of agronomy and horticulture, Lammers worked in the Walia Lab for over three years. In his first semester at Nebraska, he worked under Alexandre Grondin by aiding in drought experiments on wheat until Grondin finished his doctorate. During his sophomore year, Lammers researched different plant hormones and drought under Sajag Adhikari who was working on her doctorate researching drought tolerance in rice. In his junior year, Lammers worked under Malachy Campbell, a postdoc researching stress tolerance in rice and wheat, who helped Lammers on his UCARE project.

UCARE awards stipends to University of Nebraska–Lincoln undergraduates to work one-on-one with faculty research advisors in research or creative activities. Lammers’ UCARE research goal was to develop a standard seedling screening protocol for drought tolerance in spring wheat. His project consisted of two experiments. The first evaluated the type of soil to use for greenhouse drought experiments and in the second, he tested six different genotypes in the soil mix from the first experiment.

To better his UCARE experience, Lammers learned computer coding in R, an open source programming language for statistical computing and data science, to run his stats. He also took a graduate level scientific writing class which helped him write a manuscript on his UCARE project.

Chad Lammers Research Poster
After talking with senators, Chad Lammers (right) and other Huskers carry their posters from Ferguson House to a display area in the Nebraska State Capitol. Craig Chandler | University Communication

He had the opportunity to present his UCARE poster “Evaluating Drought Sensitivity in Wheat” to Nebraska Senators April 16, 2019, at the Ferguson House in Lincoln. Husker undergraduates discussed their research and creative activity face-to-face with state senators. The presentations were organized as part of the university’s two-day Spring Research Fair. The posters were then displayed at the Nebraska State Capitol for a couple of weeks.

He personally invited Nebraska Senator Tim Gragert from District 40, via email, to come to the event.

“He attended and we had a delightful conversation,” Lammers said. “He thanked me for my research. I felt very accomplished to be chosen to present.”

Lammers’ success in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture was made possible through experiences offered by university programs, activities and caring, innovative faculty and staff. Lammers was open to these opportunities and he became involved in areas he had an interest in and worked hard. This created a memorable journey for him at Nebraska while setting the stage for a career he’s passionate about.

“My experience was a positive one, where faculty were always available for me to talk to and ask questions,” he said. “The whole experience helped me become the person I am today.”

“I will miss the university, my days on East Campus and my friends from Burr and Massengale Hall which made it feel like home, but I look forward to graduate school with confidence because of my time at Nebraska,” Lammers said.

More Agronomy and Horticulture News

Chad Lammers, a senior plant biology major at Nebraska, scouts for weeds in a rye field on the family farm near Hartington, Nebraska. | Photo courtesy of Claire Schilmoeller
Chad Lammers, a senior plant biology major at Nebraska, scouts for weeds in a rye field on the family farm near Hartington, Nebraska. | Photo courtesy of Claire Schilmoeller