ISU’s Leopold Center Awards Sustainability Scholarships to Iowa Undergraduates

Maia Lawson and Kavita Jain in snowy scene
Iowa State University undergraduates selected for the first round of sustainability scholarships supported by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and ISU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are (from left) Maia Lawson and Kavita Jain. 

Proposals from five undergraduates representing Iowa State University, Drake University, Grinnell College and the University of Northern Iowa have been awarded funding in the first round of a new scholarship program supported by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University.

The scholarships will be used for projects that help students conduct experimental research, travel and present at conferences, promote effective fungicide seed treatments, raise poultry at an on-campus farm, and support environmental awareness efforts.

The students and their projects:

  • Kavita Jain, a biology major at Iowa State University, will receive support for research on the role of social buffering in bees within agricultural landscapes. Jain will work with graduate student Kate Borchardt, in ecology, evolution and organismal biology, and faculty mentor Amy Toth, associate professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology.  
  • Maia Lawson, a double major in microbiology and genetics at Iowa State, will receive support for research to further study the effectiveness of fungicide seed treatments at combatting soybean sudden death syndrome. The students plan to use the information to help farmers choose the most effective fungicide seed treatment so they can reduce costs and avoid unnecessary pesticide use. Lawson will work with faculty advisor Daren Mueller, associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology, and Yuba Kandel, manager of Mueller’s lab. 
  • Autumn Ellisor, an environmental science major at Drake University, will receive support to research remnant-dependent prairie moths at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt in Polk County, Iowa. Ellisor will work with faculty mentor Keith Summerville, professor of environmental science and sustainability.
  • Thomas Hexter, a math and anthropology major at Grinnell College, will receive funds for a chicken coop to be managed by student residents of the Grinnell College Farm House. Hexter will work with faculty mentor Jonathan Andelson, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Prairie Studies at Grinnell.
  • Faith Luce, an earth and environmental sciences major at the University of Northern Iowa, will receive funds for a collaborative project with other students to promote educational videos about a local watershed and use the videos to raise awareness in preparation for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. Luce will work faculty mentor Chad Heinzel, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

“The Leopold Center and Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are excited to be able to help support these impressive and diverse projects by students in undergraduate programs here and across Iowa,” said Mark Rasmussen, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. “Their proposals exemplify our goal to expand opportunities for undergraduates to experience learning activities that nurture their understanding of how to apply sustainability to real-world situations.”  

The scholarship program is made possible by private donor funds supporting the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State. Additional support for the scholarships is being provided by the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for eligible juniors and seniors enrolled in the college’s 25 majors, thanks to funding from private donors.

The second round of the sustainability scholarship program sponsored by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University is open now through Feb. 15 for applications by juniors and seniors at Iowa four-year colleges and universities. Students may apply for up to $1,000 to support planned learning and participation experiences related to agriculture, food, natural resources or related topics. Applicants are required to work with a faculty mentor at the student’s educational institution.

Find more details about the scholarships and how to apply at the Leopold Center website.