by Lana Koepke Johnson | Agronomy and Horticulture
Lydia Regier, a plant biology major in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, is one of 94 University of Nebraska–Lincoln students who will be recognized as Chancellor’s Scholars during the undergraduate commencement ceremonies May 20 at Memorial Stadium.
Chancellor’s Scholars are students who have maintained 4.0 grade-point averages on all collegiate work at Nebraska and elsewhere. This is the highest academic honor awarded to graduating undergraduates.
Regier is headed to the University of Kansas in Lawrence to pursue a doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology. Her research will focus on grassland restoration dynamics and using remote sensing to help detect changes and diversity of restored sites.
Regier became interested in biology in high school and knew she wanted a career in something related to ecology. At Nebraska she flourished not only academically but also in research, teaching and in her involvement in the Range Management and Plant Biology clubs.
“When I came to UNL, I was told to join the Range Club because of my interest in native plants,” Regier said. “The club and Cheryl Dunn were probably the two biggest contributors to my interest in grasslands.”
Cheryl Dunn, agronomy and horticulture research manager and herbarium curator, is adviser for the Range Management Club.
Regier’s undergraduate research experiences included work in the USDA-ARS Agroecosystems lab on East Campus and a summer 2022 UCARE project.
The USDA-ARS projects focus on long-term agricultural resilience and improving the performance of agricultural fields. Regier said this involves dry lab work such as weighing soil and plant matter samples, preparing sampling tools and summer fieldwork sampling gas and water in soils.
For her UCARE project, Regier worked with research mentor Brian Wardlow, a professor of natural resources and Director of the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies. The title of her UCARE project was “Detecting the Invasion of Old World Bluestem (Bothriochloa spp.) in Kansas and Nebraska Grasslands via PlanetScope and Sentinel-2 Satellite Imagery.”
“The UCARE project showed me what doing natural resource remote sensing work is like and gave me exposure to all the different ways satellite imagery can be used to analyze the natural world,” Regier said.
She also served as a teaching assistant for Plant and Landscape Systems 278 Botany and PLAS 131 Plant Science with Christian Elowsky, agronomy and horticulture assistant professor of practice.
Regier said being able to teach with Elowsky is one of the reasons she is pursuing a graduate degree. She enjoys helping people understand things but learned that teaching is a lot harder than she realized. Helping a whole room full of students from different backgrounds and with different levels of understanding to succeed and learn is no easy feat.
“Cheryl and Christian had the most impact on my experience at UNL. I've never felt like I couldn't talk to one of my professors,” Regier said. “It's evident that they want their students to succeed.”
Regier was an active member of the Plant Biology Club and served as president of the Range Management Club 2022–2023 and treasurer from 2020 to 2022.
“My favorite part of being in Range Club was being able to use it as an excuse to study plant mounts for plant identification exams for hours on end,” Regier said. “Those will definitely be some of my favorite memories of UNL.”
“Lydia is someone who is a visionary, hardworking and fundamentally a kind human being that has set a good example for all students,” said Dunn. “Academically Lydia has always been on the level of a second-year master’s student. She elevates other students to rise to their fullest potential and she will be greatly missed.”
A complete list of Chancellor’s Scholars can be found at https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/94-students-named-chancellors-scholars.