Iowa State alumna, graduating senior named graduate research fellows

April 20th, 2022

AMES, Iowa - Two students from Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have been accepted to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

This program was created to support students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Members must attend an institution within or accredited to the U.S., and are selected for their potential to make significant contributions to research and teaching in their careers.

Samantha Allbee (’21 animal ecology and biology) and Jensina Davis, senior in agronomy and seed science, were named Fellows this year. They will receive a three-year annual stipend and a yearly educational allowance for tuition and fees while they attend graduate school.

Samantha Allbee

Allbee will attend Penn State University to pursue a graduate degree in ecology. She is interested in conducting research on seed dispersal and plant-animal interactions.

As an undergraduate at Iowa State, Allbee worked closely with Haldre Rogers, associate professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology. Seeing her affinity for research, Rogers encouraged Allbee to participate in two Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) internships.

One internship took place at the Jordana Experimental Range in New Mexico, where Allbee examined semi-arid grasslands. For the other, she traveled to the Galapagos Islands to study land snails. Being a part of these projects solidified Allbee’s desire to continue her education.

“After experiencing the research process from start to finish – including experimental design, data collection, analysis, and the writing process – my aspirations for graduate school were confirmed,” Allbee said.

During her time at Iowa State, Allbee was a peer mentor for freshmen with undecided STEM majors. She was also a teaching assistant for WiSE 203x, a class about the foundation and development for women in STEM. In her career, Allbee hopes to become a professor at a research-based university and pay forward the inspiration and support she has received.

“I have had many exceptional mentors as a developing scientist, and I will provide the same encouragement to my students, particularly women and underrepresented groups,” she said.

Jensina Davis

Davis will attend the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to pursue a graduate degree in complex biosystems. She plans on researching crop genotypes and phenotypes and developing tools to analyze this type of data.

“I want to combine statistics and computer science with agronomy,” Davis said. “I love the agricultural principles I’ve spent the past four years studying, but I also recognize the value in using technology to accelerate the progress of sustainability.”

Davis discovered her passion for agricultural sciences as an undergraduate research assistant. She has worked under Mary Wiedenhoeft, Morrill Professor of agronomy, to observe intercropping systems of canola and soybeans, and with Chad Kimmelshue, former graduate student in crop production and physiology, to collect data on intercropping Kentucky bluegrass in corn.

As a member of the university’s Honors Program, Davis also conducted research on corn for her capstone project. She examined how different seed drying conditions impact seedlings’ germination and cold vigor. In addition to her work on campus, Davis has had internships with Allendan Seed Company, Corteva and Trace Genomics, where she assisted in various studies on crop production and soil science.

Davis has been a First Year Honors Program leader, a member of the International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS) and Agronomy Club, and is a part of the Student Admissions Representatives (STARS). While she was applying for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Davis said reflecting on these experiences was helpful in defining her professional goals.

“Preparing the application really helped me figure out what I want to study,” Davis said. “After graduate school, I hope to have a career in the agricultural industry. I want to coordinate an interdisciplinary research team and do interdisciplinary research.”


Amber Friedrichsen, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications,