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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 2024 REU research projects are listed below.

Program Dates

May 28 - August 02, 2024

Application Opens

November 15, 2023

Application Deadline

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

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 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. 

Crop Simulation Models for Wheat in Rotation to Enhance Yield Predictions

Dr. Romulo Lollato
Kansas State University

Calibrate crop simulation models to conduct long-term simulations for wheat in rotation with other crops. Analyze data to optimize agricultural practices, enhance crop yield predictions, and contribute to sustainable farming strategies. Collaborate with the wheat and the RAIN teams to refine and improve simulation models for accurate forecasting in the dynamic agricultural landscape.

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. 

Microorganisms and Nitrogen in a Wheat-based Cropping System

Dr. Charles Rice
Kansas State University

Examining soil nitrogen cycle for nitrogen use efficiency and reducing environmental impacts. The student will be able to evaluate the nitrogen cycle in relation to microbial activity in a wheat season over different rainfed cropping systems. The student engaged in this project will have the chance to acquire valuable experience in the field and gain insights into laboratory work.

Soil Health in Rainfed Cropping Systems

Dr. Charles Rice
Kansas State University

Soil Health is 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 how cover and cash crop species affect and correlates with soil microbial communities and activity at a rhizosphere level. The selected student will also be joining a diverse and interactive group. It is a great opportunity to knowledge acquisition, network, and professional development.

Cropland Monitoring and Soil Moisture Sensing Systems

Dr. Tyson Ochsner
Oklahoma State University

Contribute to ongoing research efforts to develop new soil-plant-atmosphere monitoring systems, cropland cameras, and large-scale soil moisture sensor deployments.

Getting to the root of N

Dr. Travis Witt
USDA Grazinglands Research Laboratory, Oklahoma

The cost of synthetic fertilizer has greatly increased over the past several years due to surges in the price of fossil fuels, international strife, and other factors. This has led to producers around the world looking for sustainable, alternative solutions. One possible solution is green manure crops. Although green manure crops have been studied previously for nutrient cycling there is little information about how nutrients are dispersed throughout the plant. A study will be conducted to determine the amounts of carbon and nitrogen in the aerial and subterranean parts of different legumes.

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.

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. This student will be  be located in Manhattan, KS, at Kansas State University.   

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