Lana Koepke Johnson | Agronomy and Horticulture
University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Agronomy and Horticulture graduate students Hannah Stoll and Alex Tonon Rosa earned second and third place respectively in the final round of the 2019 Elevator Speech Contest.
Organized and hosted by the departments of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Agronomy and Horticulture, the top five speakers from each department competed in the final round.
The goal of the elevator speech is to communicate science research in three-minutes using only one supporting image and making the presentation fun and understandable to a broad audience.
Stoll’s "Hybrid Wheat... Feeding the 10 Billion” focused on highlighting the major food supply challenge our world will face within the next century and hybrid wheat's potential role in alleviating this situation.
Stoll enjoys talking to people about why agriculture and plant breeding are important so this contest seemed like a great opportunity to exercise her communication skills.
“I think it is very important to be able to explain why your research matters to anyone – yes, ANYONE – because ultimately the purpose of my research is to benefit everyone, not just the plant breeding research community,“ Stoll said. “Conveying your research message does not mean explaining every scientific term and biological process related to your research. The most important thing is to convey the importance of your research. Not everyone needs to understand the nitty-gritty details of your project in order to appreciate the implications of your research aims.”
Stoll’s research focus involves studying female flowering characteristics that are key to hybrid wheat breeding and production. These characteristics include stigma exsertion, floral gape, duration of female receptivity to pollen and the effects of chemical hybridizing agents on female flowering characteristics. The goal is to better understand the germplasm morphology and the heritability of these female traits.
Advised by P. Stephen Baenziger, Stoll is a second-year master’s student in Plant Breeding and Genetics.
Tonon Rosa’s research aims to expand production of Nebraska’s pulse crops – field peas, chickpeas and lentils – and build an alternative crop rotation to traditional corn and soybean. “Double Cropping Pulse Crops in Nebraska” was the title of his presentation.
He participated in the contest for the unique experience of learning how to explain his research to lay people, broaden his message to a variety of audiences and to bring more attention to agriculture-related topics.
“During Graduate School we present in multiple professional events – academic and industry – but very few times are we exposed to lay people. For example, it is very hard for me to explain my research to my relatives and friends who are not from the ag world,” Tonon Rosa said.
“Explaining research without technical terms is quite difficult as analysis and statistics are not well known by the general public. If we want to contribute to the world, we need to make sure everybody can understand what is being done in research,” he said.
Tonon Rosa’s research focus is on cover crop management and crop production. It involves a series of projects looking at the impact of cover crops on rainfed corn production in a traditional wheat-corn-fallow rotation in semi-arid Nebraska. Another project Tonon Rosa is working on in Eastern Nebraska is to evaluate the feasibility of pulse crop production followed by cover crops, forages and short season crops such as grain sorghum, sunflower, proso millet, corn and soybean.
Justine LaViolette, graduate student in the Entomology Department, received first-place.
Louise Lynch-O’Brien, assistant professor in entomology, presented the awards Feb. 21.