By Katelyn R. Boeding
Working in research and seed science runs in the family of Jensina Davis, senior in agronomy and seed science and recipient of the Spring 2022 CALS Council Academic Achievement Award. Her parents are highly involved in SoDak Labs, a seed testing lab, back home in Brookings, South Dakota. Davis has worked at the lab part-time since she was in high school. This is where she discovered her passion for seed science.
“I came on a visit and sat down with the recruiter for CALS, and he helped me figure out that an agronomy major could be a good fit for me in addition to studying seed science,” Davis said.
While at Iowa State, she has taken a variety of courses related to statistics, computer science, seed science and plant biology. In a full-circle moment, she returned to working in a lab, becoming a research assistant for A. Susana Goggi, professor of agronomy, and Mary Wiedenhoeft, Morrill professor of agronomy.
“This experience helped me realize how much I love research and that that is what I wanted to pursue in my graduate studies,” Davis said.
Not only is Davis double majoring in agronomy and seed science, but she’s also minoring in statistics while being active in various organizations and maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.97.
“Jensina is just an outstanding student,” Wiedenhoeft said. “She is consistently engaged, whether in the classroom, on a field trip or discussing research methods. Jensina loves learning and wants to learn as much as she can. She is clearly in the top 2-5% of the undergraduate students I have worked with in my 30-plus years as a university professor.”
As a recent awardee for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), Davis will be furthering her studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she will be working toward a doctorate degree in complex biosystems with a specialization in integrated plant biology.
The interdisciplinary program at UNL focuses on bringing together biology, computer science and statistics. Davis will begin her first year by doing lab rotations, then will choose an advisor within the program who will serve as her primary mentor throughout her doctorate program.
“Take advantage of every opportunity that CALS offers,” Davis said. “Get to know people across disciplines because it can be very helpful to you and what you are studying. It can really broaden your perspective and bring new ideas to the table in your specific disciplines.”