Summer Research Minigrant Program

Program History

The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) supports UW-Madison graduate students through a summer research mini-grant program, made possible through generous donations from the Single Step Foundation since 2013. These awards support cutting edge graduate student research that aligns with the work of CIAS, using participatory action research, systems and transdisciplinary approaches.

Award Information

Grant proposals may be awarded up to $2,500. Funds may be used for student salary (up to a maximum of $1,250), travel required to conduct research, farmer honoraria and supplies. Funds cannot be used for travel to conferences and meetings. Funds must be spent before the start of the subsequent fall semester.


  • Prerequisites:
    • Applicants must be from current graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (While previous awardees may apply to fund new projects, priority will be given to first-time applicants).
    • Grant funded work must not extend beyond August 31st of that year.
    • Faculty advisor must currently be, or must be willing to become, a faculty associate of CIAS.
  • Application timeline:
    • February – Application opens
    • Late March – Application deadline
    • Late April – Award decisions released
  • Applications require:
    • A project narrative
    • A budget with justification
    • The applicants resume or CV


Students accepting summer research awards must agree to provide a summary of their research findings, a public presentation of their research, and participate in a leadership development workshop with their cohort. Other requirements will be detailed in the call for proposals.

Contact information

For any questions or further information, please email Raven Hall at

Application Status

Applications are currently closed. Last year’s full call for proposals is available below.

2022 Call for Proposals

Research projects

+2022 - Baker, Bird, Henegan, Melone, Ncwadi, Richmond, Schuer, Skye-Harnsberger, Wilson

The preservation of traditional Ch’orti’ agroecological practices through multimedia resources in Chiquimula, Guatemala 

Student researcher: Meg Baker, Agroecology

Faculty advisor: Julie Dawson, Horticulture


Clallam Growers Collective: A case study of solidarity economies in agroecological movements 

Student researcher: Elena Bird, Agroecology

Faculty advisor: Nan Enstad, Community and Environmental Sociology


Adapting to Climate Change: Community-Based Perspectives from Smallholder Farmers in Southern Zambia 

Student researcher: Colleen Henegan, Nelson Institute

Faculty advisor: Chris Kucharik, Agronomy


Understanding the Effect of Thermal Heterogeneity on Pollinator Visitation in Agroforestry Systems 

Student researcher: Grace Melone, Entomology

Faculty advisor: James Crall, Entomology


Wisconsin’s “Biological Ferrari”: Marbled Grassfed Wagyu Beef 

Student researcher: Mpumelelo Ncwadi, School of Human Ecology

Faculty advisor: Randy Jackson, Agronomy


Denaturalizing the nuclear family: relationality on farming cooperatives 

Student researcher: Emma Richmond, School of Human Ecology

Faculty advisor: Jennifer Gaddis, SOHE-Civil Society and Community


Influence of rye cover crop on microbial activity 

Student researcher: Monica Schauer, Agroecology

Faculty advisor: Matt Ruark, Soil Science


The effects of grazing management and intensity on grassland butterfly abundance and diversity 

Student researcher: Anna Skye-Harnsberger, Entomology

Faculty advisor: Claudio Gratton, Entomology


Culinary Evaluation of Experimental Corn 

Student researcher: Alexa Wilson, Agronomy

Faculty advisor: Bill Tracy, Agronomy

+2021 - summary in development

stay tuned — summary in development

+2020 - summary in development

stay tuned — summary in development

+2019 - Bembeneck, Blant, Campbell, Favre, Isidore, Ugoretz, Karwowski, Landis, McIntosh, Schindler, Wypler

Soil and water phosphorus under alternative grazing management in Wisconsin
Student researcher: Brooke Bembeneck
Faculty advisor: Randy Jackson, Agronomy

Livestock grazing is a practice often promoted for its environmental benefits. Grazing livestock on perennial forages reduce soil disturbance and adds carbon to the soil, while reducing the transport of water and nutrients across the land. This project aims to improve understanding of how management intensities of perennial grass pastures affects ecosystem functions that underpin critical ecosystem services.

Spring Rose Growers Cooperative: Lessons from a food system co-op that’s pushing the envelope
Student researcher: Corey Blant
Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Community and Environmental Sociology

The Spring Rose Growers Cooperative (SRGC), a farmers’ co-op based in Verona, is a unique agricultural cooperative in a region where co-ops are omnipresent. It has provided socially disadvantaged producers in the Madison area with a range of services since 2011. This participatory project seeks to engage current and past SRGC stakeholders in a process that explores the evolution of the co-op over the last eight years, the obstacles and opportunities the co-op has faced, and lessons learned along the way.

Quantifying nitrate in irrigation water across the Wisconsin Central Sands
Student researcher: Tracy Campbell
Faculty advisor: Chris Kucharik, Agronomy

Groundwater quality is a major concern in the Central Sands of Wisconsin. As a large vegetable-producing region with significant nitrogen inputs on sandy soil, the area is prone to nitrate leaching to groundwater. This project aims to increase the understanding of both spatial and temporal variability of nitrate levels found in groundwater across the Central Sands. The goal is to provide farmers with information to properly credit nitrate found in irrigation water in their nitrogen management plans. By doing so, farmers may save money on fertilizer while reducing nitrate leaching.

Interseeding red clover in cultivated Kernza to reduce weed pressure and achieve complete perennial cover
Student researcher: Jeremie Favre
Faculty advisor: Valentin Picasso, Agronomy

Farmers in Wisconsin are interested in growing the perennial grain Kernza intermediate wheatgrass. Kernza growers regularly struggle to manage weeds during establishment, particularly on organic farms. One solution consists in planting the crop with a wide row spacing and cultivating the inter-row space. This project aims to investigate whether red clover can be established in a growing Kernza stand after the last spring cultivation and effectively suppress weeds before and after grain harvest.

Promoting resiliency:  Haitian farmers use indigenous farm management practices to strengthen their farms and communities 
Student researcher: Brittany Isidore
Faculty advisors: Michael Bell, Community and Environmental Sociology; Randy Jackson, Agronomy

Farmers in developing countries increasingly rely on innovative, adaptive strategies in response to a changing climate and limited resources. In Haiti, farmers are responding to climate change by adapting indigenous practices to modern-day agricultural production. This participatory research project aims to identify how the use of indigenous farming practices in the St Raphael Haitian farming community promotes resiliency on farms and in the community, and has the potential to inform agricultural extension abroad.

Cultivating more than good food? Socio-economic sustainability in certified organic vegetable production
Student researcher: Sarah Janes Ugoretz
Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Community and Environmental Sociology

While the environmental benefits of organic vegetable production are widely recognized, the social and economic aspects remain under-explored. Labor plays an especially important role in this steadily-expanding industry, and while it is a common assumption, national organic standards don’t require farmers to establish and uphold specific criteria for fair labor standards. This project explores how certified organic vegetable farmers in Wisconsin are currently supporting and might enhance socio-economic sustainability for themselves and their employees.

The inundation situation: How rural communities respond to flooding through mitigation
Student researcher: Nicole Karwowski
Faculty advisor: Corbett Grainger, Agricultural and Applied Economics

Flooding is the costliest natural disaster in the state of Wisconsin. Millions of dollars are spent rebuilding roads and homes, and insuring property and crops. Flood mitigation projects such as home buyouts, home elevation services, agricultural flood plain easements and wetland restorations are common flood mitigation projects. Analyzing these programs allow us to better understand how farmers and homeowners can reduce future flooding costs and improve land and water quality.

Evaluating grazing for conservation and habitat management in Wisconsin
Student researcher: Greta Landis
Faculty advisor: Randy Jackson, Agronomy

Evaluation is often an afterthought in conservation agriculture, but developing an evaluation plan can improve communication and documentation, and identify sources of conflict in agroecosystems. Building on an ongoing collaboration with public agencies and livestock producers, this work will develop a set of evaluation criteria that conservation biologists and cattle graziers can use to assess grazing for grassland habitat management.

Agroecological assessment of biodegradable mulch films as a cultural control for spotted-wing drosophila in raspberry
Student researcher: Hanna McIntosh
Faculty advisors: Christelle Guedot, Entomology; Amaya Atucha, Horticulture

This project will assess biodegradable mulch films as a potential cultural control for spotted-wing drosophila in raspberry, and will also evaluate impacts on raspberry production, fruit quality and soil health.

New farmer pathways: Increasing coordination among beginner farmer programs
Student researcher: Rachel Schindler
Faculty advisor: Julie Dawson, Horticulture

This project will increase communication and coordination among Wisconsin beginning farmer programs focused on sustainable agriculture by completing an in-depth inventory of existing programs, establishing a system for sharing instructional resources, and describing the current landscape of programming and the existing gaps and barriers.

Survey of LGBT sustainable farmers in the Midwest
Student researcher: Jaclyn Wypler
Faculty advisor: Jane Collins, Community and Environmental Sociology

Farming organizations use surveys of farmers to design programs to support historically marginalized practitioners. However, major surveys lack questions pertaining to LGBT identities and experiences. This project will conduct the first survey tailored to LGBT sustainable farmers and their experiences. This data can translate into reducing heteropatriarchy and increasing LGBT equity in local food systems.


+2018 - Decre, Dirks, Kazer, Le, Leslie, Lierl, Lowe, McCluskey, Serrano

Barbara Decre

Priority area: Local and regional food systems

Faculty Advisors: Mike Bell, Community and Environmental Sociology and Steve Ventura, Soil Science

This research investigates the non-economic motivations for the adoption of agroforestry practices in the Kickapoo Valley (WI) and the narratives and discourses associated with these alternative agricultural practices. This project aims at identifying the role of history, culture, community, and landscape in the development of agroforestry and ways to better communicate around those practices.


Alden Dirks

Priority area: Continuous living cover

Faculty Advisor: Randy Jackson, Agronomy 

Switchgrass is a perennial warm-season grass that is being bred as a biofuel feedstock crop. Switchgrass is also heavily reliant on soil-dwelling fungi called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) for nutrient acquisition. This project aims to characterize the community composition of AMF associated with switchgrass in restored and remnant tallgrass prairies as well as agroecosystems, and to compare community composition to the functional diversity of the fungi to understand how different AMF species differentially benefit switchgrass.


Alex Kazer

Priority area: Local and regional food systems

Faculty advisor: Adena Rissman 

Conservation easements (CEs) are an increasingly popular tool for conservation on private land, but they are also emerging as a novel strategy to increase land access for beginning farmers. This study will examine the ways in which land trusts are using CEs to bring new farmers on to the land in Wisconsin and will analyze how the terms of the easement document affect land transfers.


Thi Le

Priority area: Urban Agriculture

Faculty advisor: Eve Emshwiller, Botany and Monica White, Community and Environmental Sociology

D-town farm is a seven-acre community-based organic farm in Detroit, MI that serves as a farming collective for the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN). One of their newer development programs is focused on educational farming and foraging of edible, medicinal, and other African-American culturally significant plants. My research will inform and create a medicinal plant education curriculum with attention to identification, history, planting, foraging, and uses of various plants found within the farm.


Isaac Leslie

Priority area: Local and Regional Food Systems

Faculty advisor: Jane Collins, Community and Environmental Sociology

Alternatives to conventional agriculture have taken different forms, such as globally-traded certified organic and local agroecological. Law and policy affect the relative growth of alternatives, and the U.S. Farm Bill’s sustainable agriculture programs will expire in September 2018 if Congress fails to act. In this time of heightened debate, I will interview sustainable agriculture policy advocates to capture how they frame policy possibilities and constraints for promoting various conceptions of alternative food systems.


Caroline Lierl

Priority area: Urban agriculture

Faculty advisor: Steve Ventura, Soil Science

The ubiquity of legacy pollutants throughout the urban soils of the Rustbelt pose significant barriers for community-led urban agriculture and grassroots gardening initiatives. It is the goal of my current graduate research to analyze and assess the positive potential offered by alternative future regulatory policies and enforcement strategies, which may prove more suitable for sustaining both soil health and social health, alongside protecting human health. More specifically, this research endeavors to strengthen understanding surrounding the challenges and opportunities for adapting localized urban planning policies and environmental regulations that would best support small-scale, resident-led landscape reclamation and grassroots urban agriculture projects in Milwaukee.


Erin Lowe

Priority area: Local and regional food systems

Faculty advisors: Claudio Gratton and Russ Groves, Entomology 

Pollinator plantings are patches of floral-rich continuous living cover. Establishing these plantings on-farm is a common strategy for countering bee declines and attracting more bees to pollinate crops. However, the effectiveness of pollinator plantings has been inconsistent. My project will focus on developing strategies to improve the effectiveness of pollinator plantings in terms of increasing wild bee abundance, richness, nesting success, and enhancing crop yields.


Cathleen McCluskey

Priority area: Local and regional food systems

Faculty advisor: Bill Tracy, Agronomy

This project will survey corn growers in the Midwest region to better understand their perceptions of on-farm diversity. There is scholarship focused on international farmers’ perceptions of on-farm diversity and their relationships with in-situ conservation. However, there is very little published research on U.S. farmers’ perceptions of on-farm diversity. Survey findings will be used to explore how Midwest corn producers perceive on-farm diversity and its impacts. This project will give insight into how farmers in the Midwest answer the question of who is monitoring on-farm genetic diversity, and provide important information about the underlying resilience of the regional food system.


Angela Serrano

Priority area: Local and regional food systems

Faculty advisor: Jane Collins, Community and Environmental Sociology 

This project explores how financial actors are transforming agricultural landscapes (using agrochemicals, clearing forests, etc.) according to their goals of generating capital gains, and how those transformations are affecting farmers. I will explore these issues focusing on oil palm crops in Magdalena Medio, Colombia, where oil palm crops financed by investors have expanded, displacing more diverse crops typical of peasant agriculture.




+2017 - Bugel, Cotton, Dower, Eisner, Grace, Hemberger, Jessee, Lanker, Mino, Pfeiffer, Potter-Weight, Reynolds, Schreiber, Steussy-Williams, Suerth, Wang

On-farm breeding and selection of choclo

Student researcher: Bugel, Jamie

Faculty advisor: Bill Tracy, Agroecology


Allied Community Cooperative

Student researcher: Cotton, Dantrell

Faculty advisor: Monica White, Steve Ventura, Alfonso Morales, Nelson Institute


Traditional foods and food sovereignty among Native communities

Student researcher: Dower, Becca

Faculty advisor: Patty Loew, Human Ecology


Mating disruption in cranberries

Student researcher: Eisner, Natalie

Faculty advisor: Brian Luck (BSE), Shawn Steffan (Entomology)


Conservation grazing on DNR grasslands

Student researcher: Grace, Jacob

Faculty advisor: Mark Renz, Agroecology


Spatiotemporal floral resources and bumble bee abundance in WI cranberry agroecosystems

Student researcher: Hemberger, Jeremy

Faculty advisor: Claudio Gratton, Entomology


Apprenticeship program for organic veg growers

Student researcher: Jessee, Laura

Faculty advisor: Julie Dawson, Agroecology



Student researcher: Lanker, Marisa

Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Agroecology


Mangroves for the Future project eval

Student researcher: Mino, Jessica

Faculty advisor: Nathan Schulfer, Nelson Institute


Urban bees

Student researcher: Pfeiffer, Vera

Faculty advisor: Janet Sibernagel, Nelson Institute


Livestock management – LAND project

Student researcher: Potter-Weight, Leah

Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Agroecology


Agroforestry – LAND Project

Student researcher: Reynolds, Jules

Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Agroecology


Ag water use in the Central Sands

Student researcher: Schreiber, Andrew

Faculty advisor: Thomas Rutherford, Corbett Grainger, Agricultural and Applied Economics


Apprenticeship program for organic veg growers

Student researcher: Steussy-Williams, Alex

Faculty advisor: Julie Dawson, Agroecology


Accessing agricultural land

Student researcher: Suerth, Lauren

Faculty advisor: Alfonso Morales, URPL


Downy mildew resistance for cucumber production

Student researcher: Wang, Yuhui

Faculty advisor: Yiqun Weng, Plant Breeding

+2016 - Chavez, Dundore, Geiger, Hanson, Imhoff, Kniffin, Krishnan, Nardi, Nolden, Richards, Santiago-Avila, Wilson

Cranberry pest biocontrol: ecology of odonates in commercial production
Student researcher: Maria Chavez
Faculty advisor: Shawn Steffan, Agroecology


Food Systems Racial Equity Assessment in Action

Student researcher: Lexa Dundore
Faculty advisor: Alfonso Morales, URPL


Demonstrating hop production in WI

Student researcher: Mike Geiger
Faculty advisor:Sara Paterson, Horticulture


Consumer-Engaged Participatory Plant Breeding Model Comparison & Beet Flavor Breeding

Student researcher: Solveig Hanson
Faculty advisor: Irwin Goldman, Horticulture


Impact of conservation projects on indigenous communities

Student researcher: Malorie Imhoff
Faculty advisor: Steve Ventura, Nelson Institute


Integrating Hydrogeological and Permaculture Design Science for Sustainable Irrigated Agricultural and Water Use in Central Sands, WI

Student researcher: Maribeth Kniffin
Faculty advisor: Ken Genskow, Ken Bradbury, Nelson Institute


Evaluating the effect of WICST cropping systems on active soil C and N pools

Student researcher: Kavya Krishnan
Faculty advisor: Matt Ruark, Soils / Agronomy


How do consumers identify local produce in the grocery store?

Student researcher: Anne Nardi
Faculty advisor: Brett Shaw, Life Sciences Communication


Integrated Organic Brush Management and Goat Production

Student researcher: Cherrie Nolden
Faculty advisor: Dan Schaeffer, Animal Science


Conservation of Botanical Diversity in Shade Coffee Agroecosystems

Student researcher: Jeannine Richards
Faculty advisor: Don Waller, Nelson Institute


Testing non-lethal interventions to prevent attacks on livestock

Student researcher: Francisco Santiago-Avila
Faculty advisor: Adrian Treves, Nelson Institute


Assessing existing infrastructure for scaling up food systems

Student researcher: Marlie Wilson
Faculty advisor: Alfonso Morales, URPL

+2015 - Anderson, Berezowitz, Freidrich, Galleguillo, Keeley, Morgul, Peterson, Raynor, Stevens, Ugoretz

Mitigating Climate Change through Cultivating Cooperative Values among Organic Dairy Farmers

Student researcher: Kathryn Anderson
Faculty advisor: Daniel Kleinman, CE Sociology


Healthy farm-to-school meals: Empowering children and families as change-agents in urban schools

Student researcher: Claire Berezowitz
Faculty advisor: Jennifer Gaddis, Civil Society and Community Studies


Perennial Bioenergy Cropping Systems and Pollinator Habitat: Understandingthe impact of pollinator conservation borders on native pollinator communities

Student researcher: Kiley Freidrich

Faculty advisor: Claudio Gratton, Entomology/Agroecology


Assessment of Woodlands Grazing Intensity in the Kickapoo Valley

Student researcher: Nicolas Galleguillo

Faculty advisor: Steve Ventura, Soils


Development of best management practices for innovative agroforestry systems

Student researcher: Keefe Keeley

Faculty advisor: Steve Ventura, Agroecology


Urban “Ecological Markets” in Turkey: Enrolling Underprivileged Consumers and Producers

Student researcher: Kerem Morgul

Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Agroecology


Wild-rice and Climate Change: A Case Study

Student researcher: Diana Peterson

Faculty advisor: Eve Emshwiller, Botany


The Bio-Economics of a Predator-Prey System: An Analysis of Optimal Wolf Management

Student researcher: Jennifer Raynor

Faculty advisor: Corbett Grainger, Agricultural Economics


Fish Consumption Advisory Awareness in Madison, Wisconsin: Assessing Message Clarity among High-Consumption Minority Angling Groups

Student researcher: Andy Stevens

Faculty advisor: Peter McIntyre, Zoology / Center for Limnology


Community gardeners and their understanding of resilience

Student researcher: Sarah Janes Ugoretz

Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Nelson Institute

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

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.





+2013 -Berezowitz, Conaway, Gurda, Hartley, Nolden, Pelton, Ross, Schatzberg

Farm to school evaluation: School-based outcomes
Student researcher: Claire Berezowitz
Faculty advisor: Dale Scholler, Nutritional Sciences
With support from a CIAS mini-grant, Claire Berezowitz laid the groundwork for evaluating farm to school programs in Wisconsin. Claire is pursuing her PhD in Educational Psychology.


Environmental health and justice issues on the Bad River Reservation
Student researcher: Jessie Conaway
Faculty advisor: Patty Loew, Life Sciences Communication
Jessie Conaway received a CIAS mini-grant to support her summer research on the Bad River Reservation. She spent six weeks immersed in this Ojibwe community, working with youth on watershed and cultural mapping. This work will provide a foundation for a cultural mapping website and atlas that reflect the perspectives of young people on the reservation. Jessie is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.


Mob grazing and Canada thistle control
Student researcher: Anders Gurda
Faculty advisor: Mark Renz, Agronomy
Graduate student Anders Gurda received a CIAS mini-grant to interview farmers who use mob grazing. He created a video chronicling his three-state, 1,500 mile road trip and the insights he gained from the farmers. This project was part of Anders’s master’s degree research on the use of mob grazing to control Canada thistle in pasture.


Labor issues in Driftless Region fruit and vegetable production
Student researcher: Jacki Hartley
Faculty advisor: Jane Collins, Community and Environmental Sociology
Jacki Hartley received a CIAS mini-grant to support her research on farm labor in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. With a focus on vegetable farms producing for local markets, Jacki is exploring how labor relations in agriculture are being affected by the re-emergence of local and regional food systems. She is pursuing her PhD in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology.


Goats as a tool for oak savannah restoration
Student researcher: Cherrie Nolden
Faculty advisor: John Harrington, Landscape Ecology
Cherrie Nolden received a CIAS mini-grant to support her research on controlling invasive plant species with goats in a managed grazing system. She spent her summer collecting data on goat browsing at the Yellowstone Lake Wildlife Area in Blanchardville. Cherrie is pursuing her Master’s degree in the Agroecology Program.


Landscape effects on spotted wing drosophila infestation in raspberries
Student researcher: Emma Pelton
Faculty advisor: Claudio Gratton, Entomology
Emma Pelton received a CIAS mini-grant for her research on how the landscape affects spotted wing drosophila infestations on raspberry farms. Spotted wing drosophila is a fruit fly that is damaging crops and profits on farms in at least 24 Wisconsin counties. Emma’s work resulted in grower recommendations on trap placement, fruit sampling, management, variety choices and on-farm landscape risk factors. Emma is a Master’s degree student in the Agroecology Program.


Creating growing space and an outdoor classroom in Southwest Madison
Student researcher: J. Ashleigh Ross
Faculty advisor: Randy Stoecker, Community and Environmental Sociology
With support from a CIAS mini-grant, Ashleigh Ross built “front yard gardens” with young people in Madison’s Meadowood neighborhood. They installed raised bed gardens at Porchlight Apartments, which provides transitional housing to homeless Madison residents. Neighbors are encouraged to harvest fresh vegetables from the plots. Ashleigh is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.


Medicinal herb production for the Spring Rose Growers Cooperative
Student researcher: Madeline Schatzberg
Faculty advisor: Corbett Grainger, Agricultural and Applied Economics
CIAS mini-grant recipient Madeline Schatzberg spent her summer doing market research on medicinal herbs. She worked with the Spring Rose Growers Cooperative, a multi-cultural co-op based out of the Farley Center. Madeline is earning her Master’s degree in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.