2021 IPREFER Undergraduate Research Experience

We have completed our selection for our 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience. We want to congratulate our new class and thank all the students who took the time to apply. We were extremely impressed by the size and quality of the applicant pool. We encourage everyone who applied in 2021 to try again next year. We anticipate taking applications early in 2022. Please follow our website and our Twitter account (@IPREFER_CAP) for news on the 2022 Undergraduate Research Opportunity.

These 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience (IPS-URE) students will work throughout the summer of 2021 with IPREFER research team members to develop pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) as an eco-friendly biofuel crop for agroecosystems in the Midwest. IPREFER researchers will provide mentoring and research training opportunities and activities for these undergraduates. We look forward to our students interacting with scientists from diverse fields, including individuals with commercial interests in plant-based biofuel development. 

The IPS-URE goal is to help students gain technical skills and interdisciplinary competencies, which will equip them for work on bio-based solutions to food, energy, and environmental challenges. For additional information, contact Anne Kinzel, IPREFER Program Manager (anne.kinzel@iprefercap.org)

Claire Biel

Claire Biel IPREFER Undergrad Intern

Claire Biel (University of Minnesota / Plant Science) workied with IPREFER collaborator Ratan Chopra to use gene-editing technologies for new trait development in pennycress. Specifically, Claire’s work focused on:

  • Identifying candidate genes that affect the important agronomic or quality traits in pennycress.
  • Screening for agronomic traits such as seed size, flowering, height, branching, etc.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship: Stay tuned!

Learn more about Claire’s internship in her Research Abstract and presentation Exploring Performance of Individual Plants with the Combination of Genes in MN106 Genetic Background, which Claire gave at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting.

Issac Goldman

Isaac Goldman 2021 IPREFER Intern

Isaac Goldman (University of Minnesota / Supply Chain & Operations Management) spent his internship working on developing commercial supply chains for winter oilseed cash cover crops. His mentors were IPREFER Collaborators Connie Carlson & Colin Cureton (UMN).

The most important thing I have learned in my internship: Stay tuned!

Learn more about Isaac’s internship in his Isaac’s Research Abstract  and the presentation Developing Basic Stakeholder Communication Tools for Pennycress, which Isaac gave at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting.

Juan Gonzalez

Juan Gonzalez 2021 IPREFER Intern

Juan Gonzalez (Virginia Tech / Environmental Horticulture & Crop/Soil Sciences ) was part of the IPREFER the 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience. He worked with our partner CoverCress, Inc. to develop a trait that will provide CoverCressTM seed to grow and thrive on farm land where there is excessive residual herbicide left over from managing weeds during corn cultivation.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship… was experiment development. I was given the task to perform a GUS assay and it required lots of reading to develop a testing question, several repeats to obtain a result, and persistence to keep experimenting after several no results. Research has its trial and errors and I am glad I was given the opportunity to improve my experimental methodology. I will definitely transfer the learned skills to my future endeavor in research.

Lear more about Juan’s summer research in his Research Abstract and presentation which Juan gave at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting.

Alex Hafner

Alex Hafner (Illinois State University / Molecular & Cellular Biology) is working with IPREFER collaborator Bill Perry (EcoSystem Services) to:

  • Assess pennycress impacts on reducing nutrient flux, nitrogen, and phosphorus, from subsurface drainage throughout the year.
  • Determine abundance and diversity of pollinating insects of pennycress, which flowers earlier than most other plants.
  • Measure pennycress forage resources (pollen & nectar) for pollinators and characterize the health of both individual honey bees and colonies near pennycress fields.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship… was the importance of collaborative science. By understanding a research question from the perspective of multiple disciplines and working with researchers in other fields I was able to consider things that I might not have otherwise. I had so many opportunities to learn skills that aren’t common in my field of study that have helped me improve my abilities as a scientist. Because of this, I also gained experience doing research in academic and industry settings which provided new perspectives and helped me shape my career goals.

Learn more about Alex’s in his  Research Abstract and presentation Quantifying the Decomposition of Pennycress, which Alex gave at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting.

Terryn Hutchings

Terryn Hutchings 2021 IPREFER Intern

Terryn Hutchings (Univ. of California, Davis / Environmental Plant Science) will be working at CoverCress, Inc. with Rahul Patharkar on stacking herbicide tolerance into elite germplasm.

Terryn will present work at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting, at which time we will post the presentation to the website.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship: Stay tuned!

Terryn’s Research Abstract and Research Presentation

Marshah Menos

Marshah Menos 2021 IPREFER Intern

Marshah Menos (University of Florida / Plant Science) worked with IPREFER collaborator Ratan Chopra to use gene-editing technologies for new trait development in pennycress. Specifically, her internship project focused on:

  • Identifying candidate genes that affect the important agronomic or quality traits in pennycress.
  • Screening for agronomic traits such as seed size, flowering, height, branching, etc.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship: Stay tuned!

Learn more about Marsah’s internship in her  Research Abstract and the presentation Validation of Seed Size Variants Identified in the Univ. of Minnesota Pennycress Genetics Program, which Marshah gave at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting.

Caleb Mesick

Caleb Mesick 2021 IPREFER Summer Intern

Caleb Mesick (University of Minnesota / Marketing (Food Science) and his IPREFER Internship partner Isaac GoldmanDeveloping communication guidelines and marketing materials to help promote the adoption of pennycress, a winter oilseed cover crop. His mentors were IPREFER Collaborators Colin Cureton, Director, Scaling & Adoption, Forever Green Initiative and Connie Carlson, Co-Director, Statewide Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, UMN-Extension: RDSP.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship: The most important thing I learned in my IPREFER internship was how to plan my own project and schedule a goal timeline. This allowed me to stay accountable and timely with my work, this accountability helped me complete all my marketing guideline and materials on time. This internship also taught me the different perspective around food production and agriculture, as it can look completely different for manufacturers, growers, or consumers. This discovery has got me excited to stay up to date with food and agriculture news as it helps me understand how it affects different sectors of the food system.

Caleb’s Research Abstract and Research Presentation

William Rice

William Rice 2021 IPREFER Intern

William Rice (University of Minnesota / Plant Science – Plant Breeding) will be working with IPREFER collaborator Cody Hoerning (UMN). The research’s main goal is to determine the plant-pest interactions with the pathogen soybean cyst nematode (SCN) and emerging winter oilseed pennycress. William will also be involved in actively screening and breeding for genetic resistance in pennycress.

William will present his work at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting, at which time we will post the presentation to the website.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship: Stay tuned!

Williams’s Research Abstract and Research Presentation

Ross Sousa

Ross Sousa 2021 IPREFER Intern

Ross Sousa (University of Maine / Botany) worked on improving stand establishment of pennycress in the fall with IPREFER Project Director Win Phippen.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship… is the importance of collaboration across disciplines. Research in agriculture can range from breeding, pathology, supply chains, education, and many other disciplines, but research can only succeed by connecting each discipline’s strengths toward a larger goal. Going forward this has provided me a greater perspective in the research I partake in as I realize how influential and beneficial each discipline can be to one another.

Learn more about Ross’s Summer internship experience in his  Research Abstract and his presentation How can we improve field pennycress fall stand establishment with a commercially viable method?, which Ross gave at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting.

Kyle Verhoff

Kyle Verhoff IPREFER 2021 Intern

Kyle Verhoff (The Ohio State University / Sustainable Plant Systems) worked with IPREFER collaborator Alex Lindsey to characterize pennycress growth and development and identify phenotypic stage progression.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship…is how to professionally conduct research and to problem solve actual issues.  Throughout the project I was presented problems that had real-world impact and was allowed to develop the solutions personally.  This internship allowed me to take my experiences and develop scientific material that can make a difference in a farmer’s life.

Learn more about Kyle’s internship in his Research Abstract and his presentation A Pennycress Growth Staging Guide, which Kyle gave at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting.

Raymond Wilmes

Raymond Wilmes 2021 IPREFER Intern

Raymond Wilmes (Iowa State University / Agronomy & Horticulture (Research) will be working with CoverCress’ Chris Aulbach investigating how fertilizers such as Milorgante, urea, and ammonium sulfate impact the germination of GA treated CoverCress.

Raymond will present his work at the August 2021 IPREFER annual meeting, at which time we will post the presentation to the website.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship: Stay tuned! Raymond will update us at the end of the summer.

Raymond’s Research Abstract and Research Presentation

Tommy Wood

Tommy Wood 2021 IPREFER Intern

Tommy Wood (Western Illinois University / Agricultural Science) worked with IPREFER Project Director Win Phippen to improve the quality and seed yield of pennycress in the spring with minimal nitrogen application.

The most important thing I have learned in my internship: Stay tuned!

Learn more about Tommy’s internship in his Research Abstract.