University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Summer Research Internship

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has received a USDA grant to support ongoing faculty research projects.  Ten undergraduates will be selected for a 12-week internship from May 15 to August 15. Successful applicants will receive a $6,000 stipend and a $900 housing allowance.

Projects are listed below. Applications are due to Carrie Knott by Wednesday, February 28. Click here to download the application.

  • Agronomy (with Dr. Knott in Princeton, KY): It has been more than ten years since corn planting date recommendations have been evaluated in Kentucky. Given that agronomic management, corn hybrids, and weather patterns have changed, re-evaluating corn planting date recommendations for Kentucky is important. The fellow will assist with three of seven planting dates, which will occur approximately every two weeks from mid-March to mid-June. Date of emergence, V5, VT/R1, and R6 growth stages will be measured. Initial stand counts will be measured at V2 to V3 growth stage. Each week the fellow will monitor and measure plots for disease infection and insect infestation. At R6 the fellow will measure final plant populations. The fellow will develop educational tools, such as developing corn ears preserved in resin at various growth stages. As time permits, either the fellow or the Mentor will disseminate results in newsletters, blogs, social media, and ultimately in a refereed journal article.
  • Agronomy (with Dr. Lee in Princeton, KY): Irrigated acres are increasing in Kentucky, where annual rainfall events are more than enough for annual cropping systems, but timing of rainfall and shallow soils often result in water deficits during the growing season. Most of the research will focus on corn hybrids and their potential interaction with management factors under irrigated systems. The fellow will be responsible for monitoring soil moisture sensors, rainfall events, and crop development and applying irrigation events accordingly.
  • Weed Science (with Dr. Haramoto in Princeton, KY): Herbicide resistant weeds like marestail, Palmer amaranth, and common water hemp continue to evolve and spread through Kentucky, challenging researchers and growers to find economical and integrated tactics to manage their impact on cropping systems. One option is the integration of cover crops with herbicides for managing the spread of resistant weeds and forestalling the evolution of additional resistance. The fellow will assist with weed emergence measurements in the spring and early summer prior to corn planting, at the time of corn planting, and following corn emergence. The fellow will also help collect data on the cover crop stand—ground cover, biomass produced, and residue cover after termination. Biweekly, the fellow will also assess how the corn itself performs in the different treatments by measuring height, growth stage, and scouting for insect, slug, and disease infestation. The fellow will also work as part of Dr. Haramoto’s field research team (which includes Dr. Haramoto) and will learn the weed identification skills needed to successfully collect data. As part of a project being conducted at multiple locations, we anticipate that these fellows will have their work published in both peer-reviewed journal articles and extension publications resulting from this project.
  • Seed Biology (with Dr. Kawashima in Lexington, KY): The early-stage seed development is more sensitive to environmental conditions (e.g., temperatures and photoperiods) for final seed yields; however, little is known about how environmental conditions perceived by early-stage seeds convert to final seed yields. The fellows will characterize early-stage seed development of soybean plants grown at different temperatures at physiological and molecular levels. The goal is to carry out differential gene expression profiling of soybean seeds grown under different temperatures to identify key factors integrating environments to the final seed yield.
  • Soil Science (with Dr. Ritchey in Princeton, KY): Sulfur (S) fertility is an arising concern in Kentucky. Historically, ample S has been available to row crops produced in Kentucky due to atmospheric deposition, S “impurities” contained in fertilizers, and modest soil organic matter present throughout the state. The adequacy of these sources to supply ample S for row crops in Kentucky is being questioned because commercial soil test labs routinely recommend S applications, higher crop yields and removal rates, more efficient scrubbers that release less atmospheric S, and a small number of reported deficiencies in certain counties. Producer and company interest in S fertility persists despite considerable evidence that S does not increase yield of wheat, alfalfa or corn in KY. The fellow will be heavily involved with all aspects of existing S research projects conducted during their time at UKREC and at multiple off-site locations throughout KY. The fellow will work6 of 11closely with Ritchey and field support staff to receive training required to complete project objectives and to apply treatments, collect data (soil samples, stand counts, tissue samples, and biomass determination), enter data, and develop preliminary data interpretations (what they think the results mean). The fellows will also be exposed and involved with other research projects within the Ritchey program that will provide a better understanding of the important crops produced in Kentucky. The fellows will begin writing an extension type report of research results.
  • Crop Physiology (with Dr. Salmeron in Lexington, KY): The undergraduate fellow will assist in taking crop physiological measurements in a soybean maturity and planting date study. Reproductive stages appear to be critical for grain yield determination and can be very sensitive to environmental conditions. The obtained information from this project will shed light on the effect of management decisions on the environmental conditions during critical developmental stages, and as a result on the mechanisms of yield determination. The understanding of this complex interaction can be critical for quantifying the potential of management decisions as climate mitigation strategies. The undergraduate fellow will help set up and manage the experiment, as well as be responsible for data collection for a specific set of crop physiological traits. Fellows can be responsible for monitoring detailed developmental stages, quantifying crop growth rate and light interception, measurements of in planta and in vitro seed growth rate, and/or interpretation of indirect measurements of canopy temperature (from a radiometric thermal camera mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle). In addition, the fellow will gain experience working as part of a team. The fellow will work closely with other students in my program to coordinate their field notes and samplings with other measurements collected in the study.
  • Forage-Livestock (with Dr. Teutsch in Princeton, KY): Forage systems in Kentucky and other states in the transition area between the temperate north and subtropical south are based on tall fescue and other cool-season grasses. While these grasses produce abundant forage in the spring and fall, growth during the summer months is restricted by high temperatures and intermittent rainfall. In contrast, warm season annual grasses such as pearl millet and the sorghum species, are most productive during the summer months and possess improved drought tolerance. Incorporating these grasses into grazing systems in western Kentucky would provide much needed and high quality forage during the summer months. The undergraduate fellow would coordinate a series of on-farm demonstrations to evaluate summer annuals mixtures (monoculture, simple, and complex) on farms in western Kentucky. Each demonstration farm would serve as a replication in the overall statistical analysis. The student would be responsible for working with myself and local county extension agents to collect and compile data and organize educational programs at each site. This internship would allow the student to experience cooperative extension at both the county and experiment station level. It would also allow the student to gain experience conducting applied research and educational programming at the farm level.
  • Entomology (with Dr. Villanueva in Princeton, KY): Fellows will participate in studies conducted under the program of Villanueva and each will be assigned a topic of interest where she/he can collect data and generate information that can be used by farmers in the future. Topics may include aspects dealing with evaluations of damages of pest on crops and its sustainable control, ecological7 of 11tritrophic interaction plant-pest-natural enemies; or distribution and impact of invasive species in agriculture.
  • Plant Pathology (with Dr. Wise in Princeton, KY): Plant diseases have an important impact on the health and profitability of crop production. Managing diseases requires significant effort by farmers, and research on the organisms that cause disease helps ensure that farmers can stay one step ahead of diseases that threaten their crops. Plant pathology often has both indoor and outdoor research aspects, making it the best of both worlds. Projects that include both field and laboratory components expose students to a wide array of general skills that can be used in plant pathology and other agricultural or biological disciplines. Fellows will be introduced to experimental design and sampling techniques, as well as laboratory techniques to confirm disease identification, such as isolating disease-causing organisms from live plant samples, and using microscopes, PCR, and/or other specific diagnostic tools.