Six graduate students earn fellowships and awards

Friday, January 24, 2020

Six Department of Agronomy and Horticulture graduate students are recipients of awards and fellowships. Those honored include Michael Meier, Deepak Ghimire, Elizabeth Christenson, Dillon Fogarty, Tara Harms and Elnazsdat Hosseiniaghdam.

Meier, a doctoral student, received the distinguished Henry M. Beachell Fellowship. This fellowship recognizes academic excellence and research potential in the agronomic and horticultural sciences. Beachell, a plant breeder and native Nebraskan, graduated from the department in 1930. He received the 1996 World Food Prize in honor of his contributions in the alleviation of world hunger.

Tom Clemente, agronomy and horticulture professor and Eugene W. Price Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology in the Center for Plant Science Innovation, serves as Meier’s advisor.

Meier’s research focuses on the beneficial bacteria on crop plant roots. Plant roots are home to staggering numbers of microbes, some of which are beneficial to plants as they supply vital nutrients and fight diseases. Through DNA sequencing and computational analysis, we aim to understand how crop plants such as maize, soybean and sorghum recruit beneficial bacteria to the roots to improve growth in poor soil conditions. This information may help plant breeders develop a next generation of crop plants that make better use of naturally occurring soil microbes to reduce their dependency on industrial fertilizer.

Deepak Ghimire, agronomy and horticulture master’s student specializing in soil and water sciences, received the Graduate Student Award at the 49th Annual North Central Extension-Industry Soil Fertility Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. This award, selected by university faculty, is presented to an outstanding graduate student.

Ghimire’s research focuses on evaluating how winter wheat grain yield and protein levels are affected by nitrogen fertilizer rates and application timing. The trials are being conducted at research sites across the state including Mead, Grant, Sidney and Scottsbluff. He is also testing the effectiveness of crop sensors for in-season nitrogen management in winter wheat.

Bijesh Maharjan, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture, serves as Ghimire’s advisor.

Christenson, Fogarty, Harms and Hosseiniaghdam were awarded the Arthur William Sampson Fellowship.

This fellowship is awarded annually to Nebraska graduate students conducting research in range or pasture ecology and management. Arthur William Sampson is considered the "Father of Range Management". He established the fellowship in 1947 to support graduate students with a special interest in pasture and/or range management in the state of Nebraska. It is awarded through the Center for Grassland Studies and includes a 12-month graduate stipend.

Christenson, a master’s student, is advised by Daren Redfearn, agronomy and horticulture associate professor, and Robert Mitchell, USDA Research Agronomist and adjunct professor of agronomy and horticulture.

Her research focuses on exploring a possible integrated crop forage livestock system for Eastern Nebraska, specifically on marginally productive cropland. The integrated crop livestock system includes continuous corn, a triticale cover crop, 'Newell' smooth bromegrass, and 'Liberty' and 'Shawnee' switchgrass. In addition, she is looking at how cool season annual grass species respond to grazing frequency and intensity during early emergence.

Fogarty, a doctoral student, is advised by Dirac Twidwell, agronomy and horticulture associate professor, and Craig Allen, School of Natural Resources professor and Director of the Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes.

Fogarty’s research is broadly focused on the resilience and sustainability of rangeland systems. His work seeks to better understand the impacts of Eastern redcedar invasion, assess the performance of management strategies and work with stakeholder groups to improve future management investments.

Harms, a master’s student, is advised by Mitchell Stephenson, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff.

Her research focuses on different management practices that ranchers can employ on sub-irrigated meadows in the Sandhills. She is investigating the use of early season prescribed burning on meadows to remove dead plant material and its impact on end of season forage quality and quantity. In addition, she is looking at the impact of different dormant season grazing dates on the meadow and how it affects the following growing season's hay production.

Hosseiniaghdam’s research involves studying the effect of different stocking densities on nutrient cycling and model simulation of meadows grazed at high and low stocking density. She is a doctoral student advised by Haishun Yang, associate professor of agronomy, and Martha Mamo, department head and John E. Weaver Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture, Robert B. Daugherty Global Water for Food Fellow and African Scientific Institute Fellow.

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Elizabeth Christenson
Elizabeth Christenson