Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm & Energy Resilience
Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience
Summer 2020

We invite students to join teams of researchers who are working to develop pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) as an eco-friendly, biofuel crop for agroecosystems in the Midwest. Due to its high oil content, lipid profile, winter-hardiness and short growing season, pennycress is an ideal cash cover crop for integration in corn-soybean rotations. Developing pennycress for current cropping systems and bio-based supply chains requires the collaborative efforts of researchers from diverse disciplines, including plant genetics, crop breeding, agronomy and management, ecology, and supply chain development. The goal of multidisciplinary research conducted through the IPREFER project is to launch pennycress commercially as a cash cover crop in 2021.

This multidisciplinary research program will provide students with technical skills and interdisciplinary competences and will equip them for work on bio-based solutions to food, energy and environmental challenges. Through mentored research, training, and program activities under the guidance of IPREFER researchers, students will gain research skills, interact with scientists from diverse fields including industries involved in plant-based biofuel development, and develop competence in interdisciplinary communication and problem solving. Research experiences are available at multiple locations including University of Minnesota, Illinois State University, Western Illinois University, Ohio State University and with private sector partners in the region.  Students who are interested in solutions to complex, interdisciplinary problems are strongly encouraged to apply. For a description of the available internships click IPREFER Internship Descriptions No. 2 (As of 2/17/20; check for updates).

Participants receive a stipend of $4,800, paid project orientation and training (May 25 – 29), and travel to the annual project meeting for presentation of research.

The core of this program runs from June 1 to August 7. Some research projects may involve work in early spring 2020. All students must be able to participate in research training during the last week in May, attend online meetings twice a month, and present their research at the annual project meeting at the University of Minnesota (Twin-Cities) in mid-August 2020.

Commitment to Diversity

We believe that diversity in all forms is essential to solving complex challenges. The IPS-URE program welcomes and encourages applications from students with diverse social backgrounds and from any field of study including, but not limited to, agriculture-related disciplines, biology, chemistry, engineering, economics, sociology and education.


To apply, complete the online application form and submit as a single pdf file the following,

  • a letter of introduction
  • a one-page resume
  • academic transcripts for all of your higher education work (unofficial transcripts are acceptable)

In your letter of introduction (limited to 500 words), please explain,

  • what you hope to gain from the program
  • your prior research experience (not required)
  • research questions or areas of research that are of most interest to you
  • how you can contribute to interdisciplinary problem solving

A letter of recommendation is required from at least one faculty member at the institution you currently attend (two letters are preferred). Students should request that letters be emailed to the IPS-URE program address internship@iprefercap.org.

Deadline for application is February 28, 2020.

Internship descriptions are available here. (As of 2/17/20; check for updates)

For questions about the program, contact internship@iprefercap.org.

Click to Apply