Graduate Students

Meet some of the graduate students who are currently involved in CEFS research and see some of the past graduate student research.

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. 

Sean Bloszies
Sean Bloszies | Ph.D. Candidate | Plant Pathology | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Shuijin Hu

Sean researches how different low-input and organic farming practices affect soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling. His experiments seek to answer how different legume cover crops and spring termination practices affect soil organic matter levels; how N availability affects the contribution of mycorrhizal fungi to soil C; and how soil organic matter levels in various organic and conventional rotations affect emissions of N2O, which is both a potent greenhouse gas and a loss of soil N.

Angel Cruz
Angel Cruz | Ph.D Candidate, Agroecology | Crop Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno

Angel is researching agroecology and soil conservation in El Salvador and how it impacts food security for smallholder farmers in rural El Salvador. Angel recently received a Fulbright Fellowship and a US Borlaug Global Food Security Graduate Research Award to fund her research.

Sefakor Fianu
Sefakor Fianu | Ph.D. Candidate | Industrial and Systems Engineering | N.C. A&T
Advisor: Dr. Lauren Davis

Sefakor has experience and training in the design and improvement of Supply Chain systems with emphasis on optimization and decision making. She is currently working with Dr. Davis on the “Ufoods” project to build a decision support tool to assist the decision makers to build a cost-effective local food supply chain from Local farmers to University markets.

Fallon Fowler
Fallon Fowler | Ph.D. Candidate | 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.

Graham Givens
Graham Givens | MBA Candidate | Business Administration | Jenkins Graduate School of Management | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Dunning

CEFS Supply Chain Resource Cooperative Scholar

Graham’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. Graham’s focus has been on local dairy supply chains and the different ways in which local dairy products move throughout the value chain.

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

Lisa is digging into food waste at the agricultural level. Vegetables are often left in the field because they don’t meet industry standards for quality. At the same time, food insecurity is high and anticipated population growth means increased yields are needed. Lisa is incorporating interdisciplinary methods to measure the amount of crops that are lost due to a lack of aesthetic appeal, and identify barriers growers face in harvesting, marketing, or otherwise utilizing this portion of their crop. Using the entire edible portion of the crop can improve yields without increasing inputs, which could improve efficiency, sustainability, and profitability for growers.

Jacob Rutz
Jacob Rutz | M.S. candidate | Crop Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Dara Bloom/Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno

Jacob is involved in the Farm to Childcare initiative, partnering with Wake County Smart Start, Wake County Extension and Advocates for Health in Action to bring local, fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income childcare facilities in Wake County. Jacob is investigating the farmer side of this value-chain, researching various barriers to entry, complexities of long-term farm-direct relationships and efficacy of local food aggregators to meet this need. Jacob welcomes further collaboration!

Clara Tang Photo
Clara Tang | M.S. Candidate | Crop Science | NC State
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, Dr., Alan Franzluebbers

Clara is looking at how biological indicators of soil health respond to different soil amendments and how they relate to crop yields.