Summer Research Minigrant Program

2014 - Amante, Geiger, Healy, Hemberger, Perng, Selen, Shelton, Sommerkamp, Stull, Warsaw, Zhang


Entomology grad student Jeremy Hemberger received a CIAS mini-grant to support his research on whether non-crop flowers increase pollination and crop production.


Wildflower and Edible Perennial Planting
Student Researcher: Marc Amante
Faculty Advisor: Sara Patterson, Horticulture
Mark Amante is establishing a one-acre demonstration of perennial polyculture of native plants, with an emphasis on edible woody plants as well as wildlife-attracting flowers and herbs, in a portion of Youker Park, Waterloo, WI. This demonstration plot will be used for elementary, secondary and citizen education about the value of native perennials. Mark is working on his Master’s degree in Horticulture and Agroecology.

Raised Bed Hoophouses
Student Researcher: Mike Geiger
Faculty Advisor: Sara Patterson, Horticulture
Hoophouses are an important tool for extending the growing season for local vegetables and fruits, especially in northern climates. Mike Geiger will construct four raised-bed hoophouses for demonstration and education: two at the Flambeau Community Growing Center in Park Falls, WI and two at the Eagle Heights garden on the UW-Madison campus. Mike is working on his Master’s degree in the Department of Horticulture.

Tomato Variety Trials for Flavor, Quality, and Agronomic Performance
Student Researcher: Kitt Healy
Faculty Advisor: Julie Dawson, Horticulture
Kitt Healy is conducting organic field trials investigating tomato varieties for optimal economic and environmental sustainability at the West Madison Research Station and on six participating farms, in both hoop house and field settings. Kitt is pursuing her Master’s degree in Horticulture and Agroecology.

Effect of Planting Additional, Non-Crop Floral Resources on Pollinator Dependent Crop Production
Student Researcher: Jeremy Hemberger
Faculty Advisor: Claudio Gratton, Entomology
While adding flowers to the agricultural landscape can benefit pollinators, growers worry that flowers might discourage crop pollination and provide habitat for crop pests. Jeremy Hemberger’s research aims to determine whether the addition of non-crop flowers increases crop production through increased pollination. Jeremy is working on his Master’s degree in Entomology.

Adaptation to Climate Change in the Blue Nile Headwaters of Ethiopia
Student Researcher: Julie Perng
Faculty Advisor: Laura Schechter, Agricultural and Applied Economics
Julie Perng is part of an interdisciplinary team looking into climate change impacts, opportunities and risks in the Blue Nile Headwaters region of Ethiopia. This summer, she will conduct a pilot survey of Ethiopian farmers about their climate knowledge and technology needs for adapting to changing weather. Julie is pursuing her PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics.

GMO Exposure Consequences for Metabolic Function
Student Researcher: Ebru Selen
Faculty Advisor: Warren Porter, Zoology
Does an organic diet promote a healthier metabolism, rich in antioxidant metabolites and “good” fat composition, in dairy cows? Ebru Selen will analyze the fatty acid compositions of milk and serum from dairy cows fed organic feed and genetically modified feed, as well as cows converting from organic to genetically modified feed. Ebru Selen is working on his PhD in Zoology.

Evaluating Open-Pollinated Sweet Corn Seed Production
Student Researcher: Adrienne Shelton
Faculty Advisor: Bill Tracy, Agronomy
For the past five years, Adrienne Shelton and Bill Tracy have worked with a team of seed breeders and organic farmers to breed an open-pollinated sweet corn variety adapted for organic farms. Adirenne will use her CIAS mini-grant to prepare this variety for commercialization by working with a grower to evaluate and produce stock seed. Adrienne is pursuing her PhD in the Nelson Institute’s Environment and Resources Program.

Research on Impact of Climate Change Resilience in Cameroon
Student Researcher: Sarah Sommerkamp
Faculty Advisor: Don Waller, Botany
Sarah Sommerkamp will research traditional versus organic fertilizer practices at a model forest site in Cameroon. She will work with the African Model Forest Network, which seeks to reduce deforestation through sustainable agricultural practices while meeting the needs of indigenous populations in a changing climate. Sarah is working on a Master’s of French Studies in International Development.

Small bugs, Big Gains? Exploring the Potential for Microlivestock Farming to Improve Food Security and Health in Zambia
Student Researcher: Valerie Stull
Faculty Advisor: Jonathan Patz, Global Health Institute
Valerie Stull is researching the potential for in-home mealworm farming to sustainably improve food security and health in rural Zambia. She will use her mini-grant to collect baseline data on the potential for rural women’s cooperatives to raise and sell mealworms to boost protein intake and household income. Valerie is working on her PhD with the Nelson Institute.

Urban Sprawl and Agricultural Lands: Measuring Consumer Preferences for Varying Types of Open Space
Student Researcher: Phillip Warsaw
Faculty Advisor: Michael Bell, Community and Environmental Sociology
Phillip Warsaw is researching the value U.S. households place on various kinds of open space, including single home parcels, shared open space, forest preserves and agricultural land. His work will inform Smart Growth policy development and farmland preservation efforts. Phillip is pursuing a PhD in Economics and a Master’s in Agroecology.

Identifying Potato Varieties with Increased Levels of Mature Plant Resistance Against Potato Virus Y in Organic Seed Potato Production
Student Researcher: Chen Zhang
Faculty Advisor: Russ Groves, Entomology
Potato virus Y is the main disease of concern in Wisconsin’s seed potato industry. Due to a shortage of certified seed potatoes for organic production, organic farmers may use seed potatoes carrying this virus, resulting in significant yield reductions. Chen will evaluate selected Yukon Gold and Dark Red Norland varieties for natural resistance to this pathogen. She is earning her Master’s in Plant Pathology and Biometry.