by Fran tenBensel Benne | Agronomy and Horticulture
Laila Puntel, an assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture, was formally presented with the American Society of Agronomy Early Career Award at the ASA Awards Ceremony on Oct. 30 during the scientific society’s Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.
Puntel has been testing and developing digital agriculture solutions to improve nutrient management. In particular, she has been assessing the performance of remote sensing and crop model-based nitrogen recommendation tools, working closely with the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network. She has also developed improved methods for mapping within-field variability, determining site-specific optimal seeding rates for soybeans using large-scale, on-farm data and utilizing spatial frameworks to quantify the benefits of sustainable management practices.
She began her career at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2019 as a soil fertility and precision ag specialist with a research, extension and teaching appointment. Puntel collaborated with the Project SENSE team on crop modeling and sensor-based corn nitrogen management. She taught Agronomy 431 Site-specific Crop Management and Agronomy 831 Spatial Variability in Soils.
Puntel has authored 14 peer-reviewed publications. She has been an active member of the International Society of Precision Agriculture and the Tri-Societies — ASA, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America — for over eight years. As a graduate student at Iowa State University, she was awarded the prestigious Gerald O. Mott Award from the CSSA in 2019.
Originally from Buenos Aires province, Argentina, Puntel grew up in a productive corn, soybean, wheat and barley region. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in agriculture engineering from the National University of Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a Master of Science degree and doctoral degree in crop production and physiology from Iowa State University.
Puntel recently transitioned into an adjunct position at the university and took a position as a Computational Agronomy Lead at Syngenta. In this new role, she will contribute to developing nutrient and soil-related digital solutions at a regional and global scale.
The ASA Early Career Award recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in agronomy within seven years of completing their final degree — bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. The award includes a certificate, a complimentary ceremony ticket, and $2,000.