top of page

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 2022 REU research projects are listed below.

Program Dates

May 31 - August 04, 2023

Application Opens

November 04, 2022

Application Deadline

Tuesday, January 31, 2023. Not accepting any more applications for 2023

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" )

2022 REU scholars

Grant Snider
Hannah Sanghvi
Claire Bott
Cassidy Holth
Ruth Davis
Theresa Nguyen
Nadia Dorado
Brooke Holt
Cole Fuemmeler
Connor Colby

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
Shelby Richard

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 RAIN REU program are listed below.

Evaluating grazing cover crops as regenerative agriculture management

Dr. Alex Rocatelli
Oklahoma State University

Fields are typically fallow after winter wheat termination in the U.S. southern Great Plains. Therefore, introducing summer cover crops to the system could increase soil conservation and farm profitability if grazed. Our research aims to evaluate cover crops’ forage yield, quality, residue cover potential, weed suppression, water use efficiency, soil water dynamics, and cover crop’s effect on the following wheat production. Cover crop monocultures and mixtures will be established in mid-June of 2023 near Stillwater and Lahoma, OK. 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. Furthermore, the student will be exposed to other forages’ studies such as bermudagrass, alfalfa, teff, clovers, etc. 

Potential of wheat residue for biological weed suppression

Dr. Romulo Lollato
Kansas State University

In this project, REU will gain hands-on experience in field production of winter wheat in Kansas (the biggest wheat producer in the US) and laboratory experience by performing research focused on biological weed suppression using extracts from winter wheat straw of different varieties. It is a great opportunity for students who desire to learn both field and laboratory research and are interested in biological weed suppression. This research was initiated in 2022, and preliminary data has been collected. Thus, 2 years of data will be available. 

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.

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.

Weed Ecology Interactions in Cropping Systems 

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? What environmental factors such as soil and water do to outcomes of crop-weed interactions? 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. 

Nitrogen mineralization in wheat base cropping system. 

Dr. Charles Rice
Kansas State University

Nitrogen mineralization is characterized by converting nitrogen organic to nitrogen inorganic, the form the plant can uptake and use as a nutrient for plant growth. The student will be able to evaluate the rate of nitrogen mineralization at the end of the wheat season over different rainfed cropping systems. The student working on this project will have the opportunity to gain knowledge working in the field and learn a lot about how to work in a laboratory and perform cool analyses.    

Soil health in rainfed cropping systems

Dr. Charles Rice
Kansas State University

Soil Health can be defined as the capacity of a soil to function as a living system within ecosystems and sustain plant and animal production. The RAIN project aims to enhance and improve soil health under different levels of intensification and diversification on rainfed cropping systems. The incoming student will be directly working on biological soil health measurements to evaluate the effect of different cropping systems in soil health. The selected student will also be joining a diverse and interactive group. It is a great opportunity to gain knowledge and network. 

Development of an Internet of Things Soil Moisture Sensor

Dr. Andres Patrignani
Kansas State University

Knowledge of soil moisture conditions is an essential component of the decision-making process in agricultural systems. Most commercially available soil moisture sensors need to be inserted into the soil which can be hard, time consuming, and the resulting sensor installation (sensor, cables, loggers) can often conflict with farming operations (e.g., planting, harvesting). Thus, soil moisture sensors in agricultural fields typically need to be removed and re-installed every growing season. This research experience will focus on developing and testing a state-of-the-art non-invasive soil moisture sensing technology for agricultural fields using Internet of Things technology. This new sensor will constitute a low-cost version of our current CRopland Observatory NOdeS (CRONOS). The successful applicant will work closely with the faculty and graduate students on the CRONOS team to evaluate sensor prototypes and conduct field validation of the sensor. This project will integrate laboratory work, field work, and would be ideal for those students seeking to improve their data analysis skills.

Implementation of cover crops into summer production systems in the southern Great Plains 

Dr. Josh Lofton
Oklahoma State University

Trials will evaluate impacts of species, management, and potential grazing on the growth and species dynamics of cover crops systems dryland system in Oklahoma.  In addition, students will have the opportunity to help evaluate the impacts that management of cover crops will/can have on short-term soil health parameters.  Interested individuals will also have the ability to work with the cropping systems crew at Oklahoma State University, learning how we integrate summer crops into a traditional wheat dominated system. 


Dr. Travis Witt
USDA Grazinglands Research Laboratory, Oklahoma

Agricultural producers in the great plains of the United States need a crop that can withstand the extreme temperatures and unpredictable/erratic rainfall of the region while being environmentally sustainable. One crop that is sustainable (i.e. needs few inputs) and may be well suited to provide human and animal food in the great plains region is finger millet. However, problems with germination prevent adequate research of this crop. A germination chamber experiment will be conducted to quantify and compare the effect of different methods to improve germination. 

Sustainable Agroecosystems

Dr. Pradeep Wagle
USDA-ARS, Grazinglands Research Laboratory, Oklahoma

This project, using multi-scale observations and interdisciplinary approaches, provides an opportunity for disciplines outside of agriculture to better understand land surface-atmosphere interactions, the response of agroecosystems to climate change, and sustainable cropping systems by joining the rainfed agriculture innovation (RAIN) project. The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) of El Reno, Oklahoma is seeking undergraduate interns with interests in crop physiology, eddy covariance (micrometeorological technique to measure CO2 and H2O fluxes and study surface-atmosphere interactions) measurements, and satellite remote sensing. The internship will provide students the opportunity to utilize skills/tools from their field of study to work alongside interdisciplinary agricultural researchers. The research project will entail monitoring and measuring crop growth and development, eddy covariance measurements of gain of carbon and loss of water by the agroecosystems, satellite remote sensing (image processing and geographical analysis), and analysis techniques (e.g., machine learning). We require some experience with at least one of these processes and interests to develop one or more of the other skills mentioned while participating in the internship.  

Nitrogen Management for Conservation Tillage

Dr. Dorivar Ruiz Diaz
Kansas State University

Long-term conservation tillage is 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.

Forage yield, nutritive value, and soil microbial activity

Dr. Doohong Min and Dr. Charles Rice
Kansas State University

Planting perennial leguminous crops such as alfalfa with grass type crops can be beneficial in terms of nitrogen transfer and management practices. Conduct research to evaluate the effect of interseeded wheat into alfalfa on the forage yield, nutritive value, and soil microbial activity in rainfed cropping systems in Kansas. 

Assessing Farmers’ Risk Behavior in In-season Nitrogen Management Decisions

Dr. Prasad Bandaru

USDA-ARS, Plant Physiology and Genetics Unit, Maricopa, Arizona

In-season nitrogen management decisions of farmers are often challenged by uncertainties in weather and market prices. Considering uncertainties, management decisions often depend on risk behavior of the farmers. The student will be involved in outreaching farmers in Kansas and Oklahoma to use a web-based nitrogen recommendation tool, and understand the farmer’s risk tolerance levels to weather and market uncertainties while making nitrogen management decisions.   

Graduate Research Assistantships Available

Funded Research Opportunities

Spring 2021

Research Assistant
Soil Water Processes
Kansas State University

The project focuses on turning multi-scale plant and soil information into actionable decisions. The primary responsibilities of the successful candidate involve: i) use novel and non-invasive sensing technologies to assess the current and future crop and soil moisture conditions of spatially variable agricultural fields; ii) determine the impact of common and alternative cropping systems on soil physical properties, soil water storage and transport, and soil health. The soil water processes research group offers a strong advising program and a newly equipped laboratory for measuring a wide range of soil physical properties and processes. The successful applicant will closely work with crop scientists, soil scientists, and modelers working together to improve soil and water conservation.

Spring 2021

Research Assistant

Agricultural Micrometeorology

Kansas State University

The primary responsibilities of the successful candidate will be to: 1) quantify field-scale crop evapotranspiration and CO2 fluxes using micrometeorological techniques (e.g. the eddy covariance approach); 2) to test and validate approaches for partitioning evapotranspiration into plant transpiration and soil evaporation; 3) to oversee field and laboratory experiments; 4) to perform data analysis, present research results in professional meetings, and publish papers in peer-reviewed journals; and 5) to complete all the course work necessary to pursue a Ph.D. degree with a dissertation related to the research topic.

Spring 2021

Research Assistant
Soil Health
Kansas State University

The successful applicant will join the K-State Soil Microbial Agroecology Laboratory.  The research will focus on soil health assessment of different rainfed cropping systems to improve water and nitrogen use efficiency and soil health. The selected candidate will be responsible for conducting the research and draft publications for technical reports and ultimately scientific journals. The successful applicant will work in an interdisciplinary team involving crop scientists, soil scientists, and modelers working together to improve water use and nutrient use efficiency in rainfed agricultural systems.

Spring 2021

Research Assistant
Soil Health
Kansas State University

The successful applicant will join the K-State Soil Microbial Agroecology Laboratory.  The research will focus on soil health assessment of farmer practices to improve soil health (no-tillage, cover crops, and nutrient management). The selected candidate will be responsible for conducting the research and draft publications for technical reports and ultimately scientific journals. The successful applicant will work with farmers set measure soil health from replicated strip trips at several locations across the state.

Spring 2021

Research Assistant
Soil Fertility
Kansas State University

The successful candidate will join a team conducting applied research with emphasis on soil fertility and nutrient management in cropping systems of Kansas. Research work will focus on nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) improvements for rainfed systems and the interaction with water use efficiency. Opportunities for interaction with producers and industry through field days and meetings will be available.

bottom of page