REEU 2018 – Fellow Project Highlights

Meet the 2018 Fellows

Gabe Contino
Environmental Systems Science Major, University of Wyoming
REEU Project Title: Short-grass Steppe Ecosystems: Structure and Functionality of Soil Food Webs
REEU Mentors: Dr. John Moore and Dr. Rodney Simpson, CSU Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Department of Ecosystem Science & Sustainability

“I really enjoyed my experience in this fellowship and working with Dr. John Moore in the Natural Resource Ecology Lab. What I learned will help me in my future academic and professional endeavors, and it was a great experience with so many great people, too.”

Tommy Galfano
Biology Major, University of New Mexico
REEU Project Title: Nutrient Analysis in Livestock
REEU Mentors: Dr. Terry Engle and Dr. Karen Sellins, CSU Department of Animal Sciences

“In Dr. Engle’s lab, I had the opportunity to study beef cattle metabolism and learn about how nutrients worked their way through the cow. My independent project was to perform a comparative methods analysis between two techniques for determining the mineral content in tissues. The USDA NIFA REEU was an amazing, transformative experience, and I am beyond thankful for the time and resources I was provided between Dr. Engle’s lab and the CSU Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability.”

Jess Jackman
Ecosystem Science & Sustainability Major, Colorado State University
REEU Project Title: Impact of Compost Soil Amendment on Nitrogen Availability in a Grazed Perennial Grassland
REEU Mentors: Dr. Meagan Schipanski and Shelby McClelland, CSU Department of Soil & Crop Sciences
Katie Jacobs
Biochemistry Major, Earlham College
REEU Project Title: The Effects of Endogeic Worms and Soil Composition on Wheat Growth and Microbial Communities
REEU Mentors: Dr. Steven Fonte and Courtland Kelly, CSU Department of Soil & Crop Sciences

“As a college student, you are bound to hear the age old question: ‘What do you want to do with your degree?’ My default response was always ‘research,’ but it was not until this fellowship that I fully realized what research entails. This REEU helped me clarify what I want to spend my time doing and what impact I can make by continuing in graduate school after I finish my degree.”

Rebecca Reath
Biology Major, Fort Lewis College
REEU Project Title: Integrating Satellite Evapotranspiration and Land Cover Distribution Maps to Assess the Spatial-Temporal Impacts of Drought in Southwest
REEU Mentors: Dr. Gabriel Senay, United States Geologic Survey, North Central Climate Science Center, and CSU Department of Ecosystem Science & Sustainability

“The USDA NIFA REEU program gave me more hands-on experience than I have had in the past. Working directly with my mentors in the North Central Climate Science Center, l learned a lot about GIS and developed useful professional skills. This experience gave me confidence with what I want to do in the future and in life. I grateful to have been apart of it.”

Savanna Shelnutt
Plant & Environmental Soil Science Major, Texa A&M University
REEU Project Title: Evaluation of Seedling Root Angle in Great Plains Wheat Varieties
REEU Mentor: Dr. Pat Byrne, CSU Department of Soil & Crop Sciences
John Starinieri
Zoology Major, Colorado State University
REEU Project Title: Honeybee Learning and Risk Sensitivity in Relation to Age
REEU Mentor: Dr. Dhruba Naug, CSU Department of Biology
Christian Sunblade
Environmental Studies Major, University of Northern Colorado
REEU Project Title: Biomass Accumulation at Wild Basin Meadows
REEU Mentors: Dr. Tim Covino and Alex Brooks, CSU Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Department of Ecosystem Science & Sustainability

“My USDA NIFA REEU fellowship was something that really helped me develop as an environmental scientist.  In my  major, I’ve been mostly exposed to the social problems associated with climate change, but this research experience connected me to the natural science dynamics of it. I was able to work in Rocky Mountain National Park evaluating meadow water quality and gaining experience in environmental science to help preserve America’s natural areas.”

Tad Trimarco
Soil & Crop Sciences, Colorado State University
REEU Project Title: Evaluating the Rhizosphere of Maize Subspecies Under Different Moisture Conditions
REEU Mentor: Dr. Megan Machmuller, CSU Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

“I had an amazing experience as an USDA NIFA REEU Fellow. I learned so much about how research is performed, how to take control of my own project, and how to plan for a big undertaking. It definitely challenged me, but I grew a lot from it. Plus, I got to meet some amazing people.”

Nana Ueno
Ecosystem Science & Sustainability Major, Colorado State University
REEU Project Title: Microbial Biomass and Activity in Semi-Arid Agroecosystems
REEU Mentors: Dr. Francesca Cotrufo and Laura van Der Pol, CSU Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Department of Soil & Crop Sciences

“This REEU has been nothing short of amazing. I applied thinking I would learn basic lab skills and help my mentors with tedious/laborious parts of their research, but this program gave me much more than I expected. I have found how I, as a student and as a professional, most effectively learn. In addition, I have gained skills in communication, leadership, and critical thinking. Professionally, I have had the honor of working alongside supportive mentors who challenged my abilities, gave me opportunity to grow, and helped me create a network of professionals within my field of study.”

Patricia Vail
Horticulture Major, Front Range Community College
REEU Project Title: Gene Editing in Wheat: A Solution for Drought
REEU Mentors: Dr. Stephen Pearce and Dr. Karl Ravet, CSU Department of Soil & Crop Sciences

“Before participating in the fellowship, I had only heard about the revolutionary gene editing technology CRISPR and was both curious and excited about its implications. My placement in the Pearce lab allowed me to actually utilize these techniques in my own research project focused on “knocking out” a wheat gene to improve drought tolerance. The work was equally challenging and rewarding, and I am so thankful for the quality mentorship I received. This fellowship answered many of my questions about what a career in research would look like and solidified my interest to pursue a bachelor’s degree in plant genetics.”