Trainees

Cohort 4 (2022-2024)

Luke Soko

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Projected Grad: Spring 2026

Advisor: Dr. Dan Andersen

 

My research involves increasing the practicality of anaerobic digestion. I create models to determine the profitability of anaerobic digesters given different scenarios. Also, I assemble and operate lab-scale plug-flow and mixed anaerobic digesters. We are particularly interested in investigating how different farm sizes, travel distances, conveyance methods, digester types, and feedstocks impact revenue. If anaerobic digestion is profitable for more farms, then more farms could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and produce renewable energy.

Alexandra Barron

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Projected Grad: Spring 2026

Advisor: Dr. Robert Brown

 

Broadly, I am interested in scaling new, environmentally relevant technologies for application in the commercial arena. I am currently working to produce animal feed from waste carbon dioxide by growing single cell protein through gas fermentation. Through these methods, we can combat the environmental effects of animal protein by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions, land use, freshwater demands, fertilizer runoff, and land erosion associated with conventional animal feed production.

Julia de Mattos Brittes

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Projected Grad: Fall 2024

Advisor: Dr. Amy Kaleita

 

My research is in collaboration with the IFEWs research group, a project which is developing an Iowa Food-Energy-Water simulation model, to create the model database and develop a visualization tool to observe the relationship between agricultural products (food, feed, biofuels) and water quality through nitrogen export for decision-making facilitation.

Fatemeh Ganji

Civil, Construction and

Environmental Engineering

Projected Grad: Spring 2026

Advisor: Dr. Lu Liu 

 

My interest areas are climate change and its effects, as well as the Water-climate-energy nexus. I worked on investigating climate change’s impact on surface water resources in my master’s. Currently, I am exploring integrated assessment modeling (e.g., GCAM) to assess future electricity and water demand under different climate change and socio-economic development.

Logan Johnson

Animal Science

Projected Grad: Spring 2024

Advisor: Dr. Steven Lonergan

 

My research interest involves discovering and characterizing molecular factors that impact fresh pork quality, including tenderness, water-holding capacity, and color. By understanding these factors, we can select livestock and implement production practices to improve the efficiency of livestock production and the quality, safety, and shelf-life of meat products. In doing so, we could reduce the inputs of feed, water, and energy in livestock production and limit the waste of spoiled or undesirable meat products in the marketplace

Matt Kavanaugh

Agricultural Meteorology

Projected Grad: Spring 2026

Advisor: Dr. Brian Hornbuckle

 

“My present research focuses on analysis of how the water content in soil and crops changes over the course of the growing season. I am using these findings to validate soil moisture measurement tools such as remote sensing satellites around critical times of the year, including the spring planting season and the fall harvest. The goal is to help farmers use this information to use and manage their land more efficiently and sustainably. Eventually, my goal is to apply these principles to other ecosystems, such as forests and prairies in order to help conservationists manage these habitats and integrate them into agroecosystems. Through my research, I hope to help farmers understand the impacts of weather and climate on agricultural productivity and to help ensure the survival of critical habitats alongside agricultural productivity throughout the Corn Belt and across the globe.”

Nicole Kling

Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences

Projected Grad: Spring 2025

Advisor: Dr. Lorraine Lanningham-Foster

 

Our dietary choices not only affect our personal health but also environmental health. However, consumers already have a lot to consider when buying food, such as cost, nutrition, and personal preference, so education on the environmental impacts of food choices likely won’t lead to change. It is my goal to make it easier for consumers to select more nutritious and environmentally friendly options. One way I plan to study this is through a virtual reality grocery store or restaurant, where I can observe how changes in the food environment affect consumer choices.

Angelos Lagoudakis

Economics 

Projected Grad: Spring 25

Advisor: Dr. Dermot J Hayes

 

My research focuses on food and health economics and consumer and producer behavior. I employ applied microeconometrics and experimental economics methods to answer questions relevant to applied economists, data analysts, and policymakers.

Emmanuel Padmore Mantey

Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Projected Grad: Fall 2027

Advisor: Dr. Lu Liu

 

My current research aims to build an inventory that quantifies the water available for reuse. Data will be collected from sources like stormwater, agricultural runoff and return flow, municipal wastewater, and rainwater. The end goal of the research is to combine these data into one body across attributes like spatial and temporal resolution for consistency and level of detail in a data structure.

Elmin Rahic

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Projected Grad: Spring 2024

Advisor: Dr. Zhiyou Wen & Dr. Robert Brown

 

My research encompasses a broad range of the field of bioprocessing. My research interests are primarily focused around discovering and developing value-added coproducts in biomass-based systems. My current work focuses on a pretreatment for herbaceous biomass that simultaneously improves its bioavailability for anaerobic digestion, as well as extracts high-value chemicals as a coproduct. Additionally, I am also working on enzyme production from pyrolysis waste streams, as well as developing a probiotic for chickens and pigs to mitigate the toxicity of mycotoxins in their feed.

Ghazal Shah Abadi

Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Projected Grad: Spring 2025

Advisor: Dr. Sara Ryan

 

My research interests are Operations Research and Mathematical Programming and applying them to real-world problems. Also, I am interested in considering uncertainty in my research. I am currently working on the reliability assessment of scenario sets generated by different scenario generation methods. I have a penchant for continuing my research by applying it to real-world applications like energy management systems.

 

Connor Thorpe

Materials Science and Engineering

Projected Grad: Fall 2025

Advisor: Dr. Shan Jiang

 

My research focuses on improving the ability to deliver biological reagents into plant cells using biolistic delivery. I am currently designing and developing new tools that improve cell transfection rates significantly while reducing the overall error in the system commonly attributed by experiments with biological tissues. I also use advanced computation fluid dynamic simulations to better understand the effects of the new devices by studying the dynamics of the system.

Taylor Vroman

Environmental Science

Projected Grad: Spring 2027

Advisor: Dr. Michelle Soupir

 

I am highly interested in using new technology to combat changes made to freshwater aquatic systems by terrestrial systems. My research focuses on utilizing and optimizing woodchip bioreactors as an edge-of-field conservation practice. Our goal is to obtain a deeper understanding of how the microbial communities within bioreactors operate in order to develop a more effective system.

Cohort 3 (2021-2023)

Alex ClerveringA

Alex Cleveringa

Dept: Agronomy– Crop Production & Physiology
Projected Grad: 2025
Advisor: Fernando Miguez
Research Interest:

I am interested in developing tools that provide readily accessible statistical analyses of data generated from on-farm trials across the Midwest. I am also creating an ontology to make the dataset I’m working with findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable by others.

LinkedIn

Kyle DeLong

Dept: Agronomy – Agricultural Meteorology
Projected Grad: 2025
Advisor:  Brian Hornbuckle
Research Interest:

I am highly interested in environmental security, specifically related to the sustainability of agriculture for the use of food, feed for livestock, fiber, and fossil-fuel alternatives. My current research is to validate soil moisture estimators (i.e., microwave satellites and numerical models) in the Corn Belt. My motivation is to put these soil moisture estimators into context to management decisions made by farmers with the hope of improving agricultural efficiency.

Motahareh Kashanian

Dept: Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering
Projected Grad: 2026
Advisor: Sarah M Ryan
Research Interest:

I am interested in mathematical programming and uncertainties in sustainable energy systems. As an industrial engineer, I want to continue my way to be able to fill the gaps between Artificial Intelligence, Operations Research, Theories, and Real-World Applications.

Holly Loper

Dept: EEOB-  Microbiology
Projected Grad: 2023
Advisor: Steven Hall
Research Interest:

Broadly my research interests lie in improving the ways we study and monitor microbial processes in the environment to help better minimize our detrimental impacts of agriculture on nature. Currently, I am testing the efficacy and sustainability of a novel method of microbial nitrogen fertilization for corn. To do so I am utilizing a new field study design consisting of massive intact soil cores enclosed on the sides and bottom with a single pipe to collect individual drainage from each soil monolith. With these enclosed soil blocks I am hoping to improve quantification of nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions in the field. With such improvements, I am analyzing how incremental differences in fertilizer rate application, soil type, and the use of microbial nitrogen fixation in maize can affect nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions.

Gabrielle Myers

Dept: Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering
Projected Grad: 2023
Advisor: Raj Raman & Daniel Andersen
Research Interest:

I am using technoeconomic modeling and life cycle analysis approaches on three interrelated food, bioenergy, and cropping systems. My research topics have included an anticipatory technoeconomic analysis of cell-cultured meat production and a technoeconomic analysis on the viability of shared anaerobic digestion systems for swine production. I am currently engaged in field-work examining the impacts of perennial groundcover systems on water quality from maize-production sites.

Jarrett Morrison

Dept: Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
Projected Grad: 2023
Advisor: Lu Liu
Research Interest:

 

My research focus is on resilience in the water resources sector.  I am currently building models to see how implementing new technologies can enhance the resilience of wastewater treatment facilities during increased wet weather events.  The research stems from increasing frequency and intensity of wet weather events due to climate change.

 

Kelly Nascimento Thompson

Dept: Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Projected Grad: 2024
Advisor: Dr. Richard Cruse & Dr. Brian K. Gelder

Research Interest:

My research focuses on GIS and Remote Sensing applied to Soil and Water conservation integrating the Daily Erosion Project with STRIPS project for erosion modeling purposes. Our end goal is to ground-truth the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model by comparing erosion simulation results to the data collected at the STRIPS h-flumes. Investigating residue cover (cover crops, bare soil, and cash crops) through the application of Remote Sensing techniques and Google Earth Engine is another interest of mine.

LinkedIn

Cohort 2 (2020-2022)

 

Richard Magala

Richard Magala

Dept: Natural Resource Ecology & Management
Projected Grad: 2024
Advisor: Lisa Schulte Moore

 

Research Interest:

I am specifically interested in landscape ecology to advance science in decision-making through ecological modeling that is instrumental to bolster environmental sustainability. My research is hinged towards understanding how People in Ecosystem and Watershed Integration (PEWI) can be used to promote multi-functional ecosystem landscapes.

LinkedIn

 

Meyer Bohn

Meyer Bohn

Dept: Agronomy
Projected Grad: 2022
Advisor: Bradley Miller

 

Research Interest:

I specialize in digital soil mapping techniques that optimize sampling design and improve geospatial analysis of remote-sensed data in concert with machine-learning to map the spatial distribution of soil properties in support of precision agriculture and environmental modeling.

Honors and Awards

  • 2nd place Region V Team Soil Judging
  • Iowa Learning Farms Soil Health Educational Video Competition 1st Place People’s Choice; 2nd Place Judges Choice

LinkedIn

Webpage

GitHub

Lab Page: Geospatial Laboratory for Soil informatics

Loulou DickeyLoulou Dickey

Dept: Civil, Const, & Environ. Eng.
Projected Grad: 2022
Advisor: Chris Rehmann
Research Interest:

I am currently investigating the function and performance of water quality practices in Iowa. My research on saturated riparian buffers and bioretention cells has allowed me to gain insight into both urban and rural water quality issues and the intersection of FEWS. I am passionate about improving Iowa’s waters and increasing awareness about water quality issues through education and community outreach.

Email: lcdickey@iastate.edu

LinkedIn

Rachel SorensenRachel Sorensen

Participant through November 2021

Dept: Toxicology
Projected Grad: 2023
Advisor: Boris Jovanovic
Research Interest:

Testing the toxicity of PVC-based microplastics, nanoplastics and commonly used plasticizers on D. melanogaster.

LinkedIn

Tiffanie StoneTiffanie Stone

Dept: Natural Resource Ecology and Management (NREM) and Env. Sci.
Projected Grad: 2023
Advisor: Janette Thompson
Research Interest: 

I am working with an interdisciplinary research team developing models to integrate local food systems, climate dynamics, built forms and environmental impacts into the urban food, energy, water system (FEWS) nexus. I am using survey tools, focus groups, and land use GIS to analyze and visualize food system sustainability from environmental, economic, and socio-political perspectives. I am particularly interested in understanding how to design for equity and in urban food systems.

 Honors and Awards

  • N. “Ding” Darling Scholarship, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation ($1,000 competitive award), 2020.
  • 50 CFANS Hunger Fighters, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), University of Minnesota, May 17, 2021.
  • Second place in the poster competition for the ACLCA Conference (see presentations above for reference).

LinkedIn

Haleigh SummersHaleigh Summers

Dept: Sustainable Ag
Projected Grad: 2024
Co-Advisors: John Tyndall, Emily Zimmerman

 

Research Interest:

My research involves using geospatial and economic data to enhance spatial targeting of conservation practices across the state of Iowa.

Honors and Awards

  • Teaching Excellence Award (May 7th, 2021).

LinkedIn

 

 

Cohort 1 (2019-2021)

 


Chin-Yuan “Jeff” Chu

Program: Industrial Engineering
Projected Grad: 2023
Advisor: Gul Kremer

Research Interest: …utilizing data analytic tools to manage the risk of supply chain in FEWS (food, energy, and water systems) nexus, helping farmers, companies, and policymakers develop innovative and sustainable solutions.


LinkedIn

Garrison Gunter

Program: Chemical Engineering
Projected Grad: 2024
Advisor: Robert Brown

Research Interest: …developing pyrolysis plants capable of effectively converting waste biomass into biofuel and value-added chemicals.


LinkedIn

Lindsey MurryLindsey Hartfiel

Program: Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Projected Grad: 2024
Advisor: Michelle Soupir

Research Interest: …practices to improve water quality in agricultural settings through agricultural engineering methods.

Honors and Awards

  • Harold and Katherine Guy Graduate Fellowship;
  • Wendell Miller Scholarship, Iowa State University (2019-2022)


LinkedIn

 

Lindsey YouTube
Watch a video of Lindsey talking about her research

Charlie LabbuzettaCharlie Labuzzetta


Program: Statistics & Environmental Science
Projected Grad: 2022
Advisor: Zhengyuan Zhu

Research Interest: ..statistical analysis of satellite imagery for monitoring natural resources and best management practices.++


LinkedIn
GitHub

 

Virginia “Gina” Nichols


Program: Crop Prod & Physiology
Projected Grad:2021
Advisor: Matt Liebman & Sotirios Archontoulis

Research Interest: …quantifying the benefits of diverse crop rotations on environmental, social, and economic scales.

Honors and Awards

  • Iowa State University Teaching Excellence Award
  • Fulbright finalist


LinkedIn


Gina YouTube
Watch a video of Gina talking about her research.

 

Tim Neher

Tim Neher


Program: Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Projected Grad: 2022
Advisor: Michelle Soupir

Research Interest:…antibiotic resistance indicators in agriculture, related it to quantities of antibiotics used by livestock owners and to evaluate in-field or edge-of-field practices that may potentially provide opportunities to reduce resistance indicators as well as provide economic benefits to farmers.

Honors and Awards

Guy Fellowship Award, 2020, Iowa State University. Fellowship established to promote research in soil and water conservation.


LinkedIn

Watch a video of Tim talking about his research.

 

Matt Nowatzke

Matt Nowatzke

Participant through December 2020


Program: Crop Prod & Physiology
Projected Grad: 2023
Advisors: Emily Heaton, Andy Vanloocke

Research Interest: …the intersection of data science, agriculture, and human-centered design to identify models and systems that couple human decision-making with sound agricultural and environmental practices.

LinkedIn

Gorkem EmirhuseyinogluGörkem Emirhüseyinoğlu


Dept: Industrial Engineering
Projected Grad: 2022
Advisor: Sarah Ryan

Research Interest: …investigating land use and management decisions to reduce nutrient runoff while maximizing agricultural profit under market and precipitation uncertainty.
** Görkem entered the program in the Spring of 2020.


LinkedIn