2022 IPREFER Undergraduate Research Experience

The 2022 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience intern class recently held a kickoff meeting at the University of Minnesota under the leadership of our Internship Coordinator Mary Brakke. The students will work throughout the summer of 2022 to develop pennycress as an eco-friendly biofuel crop for agroecosystems in the Midwest. 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.

The interns are now off to their respective IPREFER research locations, and you can what they will be doing this summer in the information they have provided below regarding their research projects. We want to thank all IPREFER collaborators who are mentoring, encouraging, and supporting the 2022 class. For additional information, contact Anne Kinzel (anne.kinzel@iprefercap.org).

Joseph Brandhorst

Claire Biel IPREFER Undergrad Intern

Joseph Brandhorst (Kent State University – Biotechnology) works with WIU IPREFER mentors Win Phippen and Tad Wesley (Agronomic Management & Breeding & Genetics) to identify pennycress lines with optimal performance across multiple states. This will involve looking at heights, yields, weather conditions, and more to assess which are the strongest varieties.

I applied for the IPREFER internship… First and foremost, I love plants. The reason I chose IPREFER, in particular, is because I am fascinated with the concept of taking an ordinary plant and domesticating it for food, fuel, and profit.

Taylor Irvin

Isaac Goldman 2021 IPREFER Intern

Taylor Irvin (Illinois State University – Agriculture Teacher Education) is working with IPREFER collaborators Rebekka Darner and Matthew Hagaman on researching how students react to anomalous data during hands-on experiments and how that relates to the concept of growth vs. fixed mindset. These students will range from 3rd grade to 8th grade.

I applied for the IPREFER internship… to gain teaching experience that I can take into my future career as an agricultural educator.

Layla Jones

Layla Jones (Illinois State University – Biology Teacher Education) is working with IPREFER Education/Outreach/Extension collaborators Rebekka Darner and Matthew Hagaman to research what attitudes were fostered in students when doing a combined activity and if they had a fixed or growth mindset when faced with challenges.

I applied for the IPREFER internship… because my teacher recommended me for it, and I enjoyed learning a little bit about pennycress in class and wanted to further my education on this cover crop.

Tori Jones

Tori Jones (Auburn University – Ecology/Evolution/Behavior) is working with IPREFER collaborators Jim Anderson (Breeding & Genetics) and Julia Zhang (Breeding & Genetics) to phenotypically and genotypically characterize different experimental pennycress breeding lines for seed purification and advancement.

I applied for the IPREFER internship… to broaden my understanding and appreciation of the many different facets of agriculture. Being from Alabama, I have had a limited experience with the breadth of farming and agricultural lab techniques that are available; hearing about this opportunity, I immediately applied so that I could have the opportunity to further contextualize my perspective on agriculture in America, as well as enjoy the personal growth that comes with a summer abroad.

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly (Notre Dame – Biochemistry) is working with WIU mentors Win Phippen and Tad Wesley (Agronomic Management / Breeding & Genetics) to analyze the effectiveness of different levels of GA treatment on germination time for golden coated and black coated pennycress.

I applied for the IPREFER internship…… because the work this group is doing seems like it has enormous potential to provide a source of renewable aviation fuel, something that is needed as we work to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.

Ella Lyon

Ella Lyon (Colorado School of Mines – Quantitative Bioscience & Engineering) is working with IPREFER mentor Ratan Chopra (CoverCress), analyzing mutations in pennycress, and making a database of the gene mutations.

I applied for the IPREFER internship… because it gives me the opportunity to obtain hands-on lab experience and company experience. I am learning how to conduct research and work in a lab setting, and I am also learning how my findings can directly impact the commercialization of pennycress.

Karyn Rader

Karyn Rader (Illinois State University – Biology Teacher Education) is working with IPREFER mentors Matthew Hagaman and Rebecca Darner to research the levels of engagement between hands-on activities vs. minds-on activities.

I applied for the IPREFER internship… to further my knowledge as a future educator and gain some research experience.

Hayley Reuter

Hayley Reuter (University of Minnesota – Microbiology & Plant Pathology) is working on testing the shade tolerance of soybeans under pennycress with her IPREFER mentors Aaron Lorenz and Lucas Roberts.

I applied for the IPREFER internship… because I wanted to gain experience in field research and data analysis, and I wanted to work directly with experts in plant sciences.