Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

This program is designed to provide future engineers and scientists with the skills and perspective necessary to address some of the world’s future food and fiber needs. Ten selected students each year will be paired with a faculty advisor and a graduate student mentor at the team institutions. The students will perform research on adaptive management, attend seminars on topics related to sustainability and professional development, and work on a project related to water-limited crop and animal production systems. Summer 2021 REU research projects are listed below.

Program Dates

June 2 - August 6, 2021

Application Opens

October 19, 2020

Application Deadline

February 12, 2021


2021 REU scholars

Megan Louise Williams
Carlos E. Morel Ross
Elizabeth Frieden
Taran K. Rowles
Kevin B. Etter
Lindsay Bayerkohler
Cindy Villavicencio
Madison Lee Morris
Eric V. Messick
Carson Lee Wright


Participants will receive

  • $9000 stipend (inclusive of travel and room and board), paid in several installments over the summer

  • Hands-on research experience in a transdisciplinary team

  • Mentorship by a RAIN team faculty member


  • Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents.

  • Applicants should have a 2.5 or greater undergraduate GPA.

  • Graduating seniors are not eligible for the program.

Additional Required Materials

  • Attached to application

    • Unofficial transcripts from your university coursework

    • A one page resume of academic and working experience; and

  • A letter of reference or recommendation (Emailed to with the subject "REU Reference for FIRSTNAME LASTNAME" )

Student in Library

Research Projects

The RAIN REU is a competitive program. Accepted participants will be matched with a research mentor and project based on their interests. Projects available for the 2021 RAIN REU program are listed below.


Soil Water Management

Dr. Andres Patrignani
Kansas State University

This project aims to convert field-scale soil moisture information into actionable in-season farming decisions. Use state-of-the-art soil moisture instrumentation, gain exposure to field data collection of soil moisture data, learn multiple laboratory methods for analyzing soil physical properties, and an opportunity to expand your skills in geospatial data analysis.

Cropping Systems & Soil Health

Dr. Tyson Ochsner
Oklahoma State University

Changes to cropping systems can impact soil health by altering soil physical, chemical, and biological properties in complex and unexpected ways. This project will evaluate cropping system impacts on soil health and to establish a baseline for future soil health assessments to assess long-term changes in existing field experiments in Oklahoma and Kansas. Soil samples will be collected and analyzed for soil organic carbon, total N, bulk density, aggregate stability, and water holding capacity.

Remote Sensing for Precision Agriculture

This project will entail conducting routine in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights, image processing, and/or geographical analysis such as object-based image analysis (OBIA) and raster-based analysis.

Dr. Travis Witt
USDA Grazinglands Research Laboratory

Plant Genetics and Physiology

Dr. Travis Witt
USDA Grazinglands Research Laboratory

As the climate becomes more variable and rainfall more erratic, seedling establishment will become more crucial in determining the success of summer cover crops. This project will use a lab/greenhouse experiment to quantify and compare germination responses to available moisture and include computer algorithm development.

Weed-Crop Interactions

Dr. Anita Dille
Kansas State University

How do weed species grow and reproduce when in mixture with different crop canopies? Does this impact their future seed production? Through documenting the weed species that emerge and occur across several field studies with different crops, we will document changes in plant growth and biomass, and predict seed production, to know what their future impact will be.

Soil Microbiology in Dryland Cropping Systems

Dr. Charles Rice
Kansas State University

Conduct research on soil health and nutrient dynamics in dryland cropping systems. Evaluate the effect of cover crops and no-tillage in the soil microbial community composition, enzyme activity, and aggregate stability. Identify the microbial mechanisms driving soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics. Help to provide technical assistance that will help growers and their advisors make decisions that will result in positive changes for the profitability of their operations and the sustainability of the soil.

Soil Evaporation

Dr. Eduardo Santos
Kansas State University

Work with novel instrumentation to quantify soil evaporation. The student will have opportunity to build, test and deploy dual heat pulse probes to quantify soil moisture near the soil surface. He/she will also learn about microprocessors and data acquisition systems, heat pulse probe data processing and algorithms to estimate soil evaporation.

Forage Systems

Dr. Alexandre Rocateli
Oklahoma State University

Reduced-lignin alfalfa cultivars are a promising alternative for maximizing forage yield while maintaining forage quality. The objectives are to i) quantify the effects of cutting management in conventional and reduced-lignin alfalfa cultivars on forage yield, forage quality, and water-use efficiency. The student involved in this research will be exposed to forage yield sampling techniques (destructive and non-destructive methods), soil water measurements, forage sampling, processing, and analysis for quality.

Soil Testing & Nutrient Management

Dr. Dorivar Ruiz Diaz
Kansas State University

Evaluate soil testing methods for fertilizer recommendations for different soil types and production systems. Determine how the different soil analysis methods in the laboratory are correlated to crop response in the field and how these values can be used to make fertilizer recommendations.

Nitrogen Management for Conservation Tillage

Dr. Dorivar Ruiz Diaz
Kansas State University

Long-term conservation tillage are characterized by high soil organic matter, and therefore affecting the nitrogen cycling when compared to conventional tillage system. The student involved in this project will evaluate nitrogen response for contrasting tillage systems and evaluate key parameters of nitrogen use efficiency in corn, and the need for adjustments in nitrogen fertilization under conservation tillage.

Remote Sensing Data Processing

Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti
Kansas State University

Explore the utilization/implementation of technology (e.g., drones, satellite, modeling) on agricultural research. Gain knowledge on the precision agriculture technologies used for collecting relevant agricultural data layers and utilization of different technologies such as satellite and working in learning how to process satellite data from different fields.

Field Research and Crop Simulation

Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti
Kansas State University

Learn about field production of major crops (e.g., legumes and cereals). This research project will involve analysis of plant growth and development to better understand the effect of soil and weather on plant processes and yield formation with the goal integrating the data into crop simulation models.

Soil Testing & Laboratory Analysis

Dr. Brian Arnall
Oklahoma State University

Evaluating the use of Mehlich 3 nutrient extraction to determine CEC as a replacement for ammonium acetate. Utilizing Mehlich 3 instead of ammonium will increase the efficiency of soil testing lab procedures, decreasing cost of the analysis making it more economical for the famers.

Precision Nutrient Management

Dr. Brian Arnall
Oklahoma State University

Get hands on experience with many of the summer crops grown in the central plains. Learn about and apply the use of sensors to make in-season nitrogen recommendations in cotton, sesame, and sorghum. Help the team improve existing practices and develop new approaches to nitrogen management.