Graduate Students

Horticulture Graduate Students

Ibtisam Alatawi

Ibtisam Alatawi

Ph.D Student - CEMB

Advisor: Dr. Ainong Shi

"I am investigating evaluation of abiotic and biotic resistance; conduct QTL and association mapping and identify SNP markers; and study gene expression for the abiotic and biotic resistance in vegetable crops such as tomato."

Kenneth Buck

Kenneth Buck

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Worthington

“My MS research is divided into two projects. The first is using genetic markers to quantify the genetic diversity in wild muscadine grape populations, specifically compared to cultivated breeding populations. The second project is investigating what factors play a major role in the success of rooting hardwood muscadine cuttings.”

Mason Chizk

Thomas Mason Chizk

Ph.D Student

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Worthington

 "Among horticultural fruit crops, fruit texture is often a trait of enormous importance, as it relates to both shipping potential and consumer opinion.  The primary focus of my dissertation research is to provide plant breeders with tools to expedite the improvement of texture and shipping potential in blackberry and muscadine grape by identifying efficient phenotyping techniques and predictive molecular markers.”

Eric DeBoer

Eric DeBoer

Ph.D. Student

Advisor: Dr. Mike Richardson

“My PhD program is focused on the use of nanobubble technology to superoxygenate water for the use of irrigating gold course putting greens, as well as for use in hydroponic lettuce production.”

 

Rhiannon De La Rosa

Rhiannon De La Rosa

 M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Mike Richardson

"The focus of my research is determining the importance of seed sourcing in the context of prairie restoration. We'll be looking at the differences of phenotype in four species from several different source locations, and then focusing more closely on one grass species to determine genetic differences among sources. Our hope is to be able to inform restorationists how to make better decisions on where to get seed for an overall more successful, sustainable restoration site."

Carly Godwin

 Carly Godwin

M.S. Student 

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Worthington

"My project is part of the Genotype Wide Association Study (GWAS) being conducted on blackberries. The portion of this study that I am researching focuses on the genetic control of fruit quality aspects of blackberries such as pH, titratable acidity, and soluble solids as well as seediness and drupelet number."

Kalyn Helms

Kalyn Helms

M.S. Student 

Advisor: Dr. Ryan Dickson

"I am a Controlled Environment Masters student under Dr. Ryan Dickson and my research includes evaluating the importance of controlling pH and plant tolerance to pH drift in hydroponic solutions and evaluating novel grower strategies to buffer pH and prevent nutritional and water quality issues. My side projects focus on evaluating substrates amended with wood products for the effects on plant growth and nutrition, and analyzing new controlled-release fertilizer technologies in outdoor nursery crops."

Alden Hotz

Alden Hotz

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Amanda McWhirt

"As I pursue a graduate degree in Horticulture, my focus of research is to further evaluate the potential benefits of using a variety of cover crops. These cover crops will help to ensure the development of sustainable agriculture. Cover crops have been used for many benefits including weed control, erosion reduction, insect population control, and nutrient supplementation. My research is to find some solutions to issues local farmers have dealt with in recent years particularly in watermelon production. The research will be testing a variety of cover crop combinations to discover which options are viable in producing quality fruits, managing weed grow, as well as increasing plant available nutrients. A particular issue the research will show is the outcome for different options of cover crop termination. This research will be applicable across many agriculture disciplines as the demand for quality produce with minimal or no pesticide use increases."

Lauren Houston

 Lauren Houston

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Ryan Dickson

"My research focuses on quantifying nutrient and water uptake across edible crop species in closed hydroponic systems. By doing so, we hope to be able to design more efficient refill solutions and be able to better predict when to replenish nutrient solutions. I am also currently working on a side project that will evaluate leaf and sucker pruning practices on yield in hydroponically grown tomato and developing a course curriculum for a hydroponics class."

Carmen Johns

Carmen Johns

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Worthington

Kayla Knepp

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Matt Bertucci

 

Leala Machesney

Leala Machesney

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Ryan Dickson

“My thesis project is working with novel blackberry production in a greenhouse environment."

Daniel O'Brien

Daniel O'Brien

Ph.D Student

Advisor: Dr. Mike Richardson

My research focuses on improving our understanding of soil surfactants (a.k.a. wetting agents), and the different ways they affect water movement & availability within the rootzones of intensively managed turfgrass systems, especially those prone to hydrophobicity.

Central to this work is an effort to differentiate, organize, and classify wetting agents based on objective, scientific research data, rather than marketing claims & terminology offered by manufacturers.

Additionally, my research seeks to develop improved application strategies for maximizing the benefits of wetting agents, examining both environmental factors corresponding to reductions in product efficacy, as well as product combinations and rotations which may enhance overall effectiveness.

While my research speaks largely to the golf course industry where wetting agents are commonly used, I also have a strong interest in exploring novel situations for using wetting agents well-beyond the golf course, so that the positive attributes of healthy turfgrass may be more fully recognized and appreciated.

 

 

Dotun Samuel Olaoye

Dotun Samuel Olaoye

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Ainong Shi

"Downy Mildew caused by Peronospora effusa is a devastating disease hampering productivity of Spinach in the US and across the world. To this end, my project is inclined towards the adoption of molecular breeding technologies that would facilitate the development of tightly-linked molecular markers to resistance QTL/gene(s) which will be deployed to develop resistant cultivars, thus improving productivity."

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Walton

Thomas Walton

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Mike Richardson

"Having a passion for the game of golf, my research will be focused on commonly used warm-season putting green species in our region.  The challenges growing warm-season grasses locally are the threat of winter-injury and the lack of shade tolerance of these grasses.  I will be investigating strategies to minimize winter injury on ultradwarf bermudagrass putting greens (Cynodon dactylon x C. transvaalensis) and establishing guidelines for light requirements and cultural practices to enhance the survival of 'Tifeagle' ultradwarf bermudagrass and 'Tambika' zoysiagrass (Zoysia matrella x Z. minima) grown in reduced light environments.  "