Graduate Profiles

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Elizabeth Abraham, a native of India who has a veterinary degree, is studying training and development of women involved in livestock rearing in India.


Stem rust, a major issue in small grains, is a pathogen that can cause devastating loss in wheat and barley. Austin Case is working to identify the genes that confer rust resistance. 


Celeste Falcon wants to make better barley. Her research involves identifying useful genes and incorporating them into new varieties in order to improve barley’s nitrogen-use efficiency and winter hardiness.


Bighead carp are working their way north in the Mississippi River and are causing enormous ecological damage to many North American river systems. Ratna Ghosal is studying how chemical attractants (pheromones) may work as a control for the invasive fish. 


“My research focuses on the use of strip tillage, a reduced-tillage method that tills only areas where future crops will be planted, in both agronomic and horticultural systems. My goal is to learn how these practices interact with the pool of soil organic matter that fuels soil biology and thus crop production,” she says.


Her research focuses on improving the production, quality and value of alfalfa through use of a reduced-lignin alfalfa variety.


Her research is aimed at developing a hypo-allergenic soy protein ingredient while maintaining ingredient functionality.


Chili peppers are used worldwide in foods for their pungent flavor, aroma and to prolong food spoilage. With capsaicin contents ranging from zero to millions of Scoville heat units, different varieties offer a wide range of options for people all over the world. Morrine Omolo is studying those options.


Have you ever rolled over a wooden log only to see it flourishing with fungi? Have you ever wondered what breaks down the plant matter remaining after a tree has died and fallen? Gerry Presley has, and as a result, he is focusing his research on how fungi rot wood.


Jennie Sirota is studying mercury contamination in water habitats.

Zewei Song

Controlling crop diseases will help feed the world, Zewei Song, a postdoctoral associate in plant pathology says, and his study of the ecology and evolution of soil microbes will help explain their role in disease control.


Anne Struffert, a master's degree student in Land and Atmospheric Science, says she wants to “leave this world a better, cleaner place for future generations,” by providing farmers and non-farmers with reliable information on how nitrogen leaching is affecting them and solutions they can use to mitigate the problem.


Recent outbreaks have put research on swine diseases—and prevention—in the spotlight. Michaela Trudeau studies swine nutrition, with her focus surrounding the survival of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) in animal feed and feed ingredients.


Greenhouse gas emissions are a major environmental concern. Peter Turner studies the emission budget of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are produced in agricultural systems. He centers his work on the U.S. Corn Belt’s production of nitrous oxide, which is the primary ozone-depleting substance and a potent GHG.

Leon VanEck

Fascinated by plants, their systematics and molecular biology and how they interact with their environment, Leon van Eck,a postdoctoral associate in Plant Pathology, uses bio-informatic genome analysis to evaluate evidence of plant disease evolution.


By studying the nutritional quality of food on food shelves, Cael Warren, Ph.D. student in Applied Economics, wants to help the hunger relief system provide more nutritious foods for its clients.

Judy Wu

"The more I learn about bees, the more motivated I become." -Judy Wu-Smart, Ph.D., Entomology