Graduate Fellows 2018-02-19T13:31:14+00:00

CEFS Graduate Student Fellowships

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CEFS Graduate Fellows Program at NC State University


The Center for Environmental Farming Systems NC State University Graduate Fellows Program was developed to provide financial support and recognition for the future leaders, researchers and contributors in sustainable agriculture and local food systems while they pursue academic research to further the field of study.  More information…


2017 Cohort

Nicholas Basinger | Ph.D. Student | Horticultural Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Katie M. Jennings

Nicholas has a research focus on novel weed detection methods in agronomic and vegetable crop systems. His research focuses on utilizing specific light wavelengths, reflected off different plants to remotely distinguish weeds from crop species. One of his projects is to determine which wavelengths of light can be utilized for discriminating between plant species. His other project focuses on the impact various weed densities have on yields and the reflected wavelengths of light of soybean and sweet potato. Ultimately, the goal of these projects is to determine a remote weed detection method with the end result of managing weeds only where they are present.

Sam Ingram
Sam Ingram | Ph.D. Student | Animal Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Matt Poore

Sam’s research focuses on the renovation of toxic infected tall fescue pastures utilizing no-till smother (cover) crops. Soil health, agronomic performance and animal performance will be monitored during the renovation strategy and an economic analysis will be performed. Sam also has projects in finishing cattle in a pasture-based system and transitioning forested area to perennial forage pasture utilizing cover crops. All projects attempt to analyze the whole system in an effort to provide valuable information to the farmer about what takes place on their operation. Sam is involved in educational outreach, working with the Amazing Grazing program as well as the North Carolina Forage and Grassland Council and believes this outreach is an effective tool to assist farmers in adopting new practices.

Lisa K Johnson
Lisa K. Johnson | Ph.D. Candidate | Horticultural Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Nancy Creamer

Lisa’s research brings the excitement surrounding food waste research to the often overlooked production level of the supply chain. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on understanding common farming practices and market policies that increase vegetable losses in the field, determining how much edible produce is left unharvested, and finding ways to increase the recovery of unharvested crops. Lisa completed her M.S. at the University of Georgia, also in Horticulture, where her research focused on the molecular physiology of fruit crops. She is rapidly becoming a national expert in on-farm food waste.

Eliot Lee
Eliot Lee | MBA Candidate | Jenkins Graduate School of Management | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Dunning

CEFS Compass Group USA Graduate Fellow

Eliot’s research is focused on understanding the current state of local, sustainable food value chains in the region to provide recommendations and possible solutions to developing more equitable and efficient processes. Eliot’s focus has been on local grain supply chains and the different ways in which local grain products move throughout the value chain, and his research will identify alternative paths to profitability for North Carolinian grain farmers. He will also work with Compass Group to improve and expand their sustainability platform. Prior to graduate school, he was an intern on the Small Farm Unit at CEFS’ Field Research and Outreach Facility at Cherry Farm in Goldsboro.

Marisol Mata
Marisol Mata | Masters Student | Horticultural Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Danesha Seth Carley

In today’s home gardening market, a large number of flower species are included in “pollinator-friendly” seed mixes but little is known about their actual nutritional quality for bees. Marisol’s research project focuses on growing several species of these native flowers in a controlled environment so as to determine the protein content found within their granules of pollen. She is also interested in learning whether changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature, fertilizer and CO2 levels affect the overall quality of the pollen.

2016 Cohort

Rachel Atwell
Rachel Atwell | Ph.D. Candidate | Crop Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton

Rachel has research projects that focus on winter pea production in the Southeast and using cover crop mulches for weed suppression. Her first project focuses on screening winter pea genotypes for use as grain, forage and cover crops in the Southeast. Her other graduate student research focuses on using cover crop mulches for weed suppression in both organic and conventional cotton production. Rachel also completed her M.S. degree under the advisement of Chris Reberg-Horton where her research focused on cultural weed control tactics and fertility management in organic corn and canola production.

Johanna Elsensohn
Johanna Elsensohn | Ph.D. Student | Entomology | NC State
Advisors: Dr. Hannah Burrack and Dr. Coby Schal

Johanna utilizes insights gained from basic biology research to help inform sustainable pest control strategies. She investigates how oviposition by female Drosophila suzukii, a globally invasive pest of small fruit crops, varies as a function of season, host quality, and pest density. These results will lead to better-informed, locally optimized pest management strategies for this pest. Another project, working with the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at NC State, compares socio-environmental risks among several insect genetic modification techniques and questions how different stakeholder groups evaluate those risks.

Fallon Fowler
Fallon Fowler | Ph.D. Student | Entomology | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Wes Watson

Fallon researches whether certain dung beetle groups (dwellers, tunnelers, or rollers) affect nutrient cycling and greenhouse gas production differently. She specifically seeks to answer which, if any, dung beetle traits and species are most beneficial to livestock producers and the environment. Ultimately, she plans on using this research to contribute to alternative, sustainable strategies in livestock systems, specifically in cattle production systems.

David Suchoff Photo
David Suchoff | Ph.D. Candidate | Horticultural Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Chris Gunter

David’s research focuses on developing screening methods for abiotic stress tolerance and avoidance in tomato rootstocks. Specifically, David is looking at morphological traits in rootstock root systems that may help improve soil resource use and acquisition. The end goal of this research is to help farmers improve their resource use efficiency via the use of these more resilient rootstocks. David also completed his M.S. degree under Dr. Chris Gunter and Dr. Jonathan Schultheis investigating nitrogen use efficiency in grafted watermelon and tomatoes. Prior to graduate school David was an apprentice on the Small Farm Unit at CEFS’ Field Research and Outreach Facility at Cherry Farm in Goldsboro.