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

June 1 - August 5, 2022

Application Opens

November 3, 2021

Application Deadline

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

 

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

 

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


Eligibility

  • 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 dieleman@ksu.edu 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.

 

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.

Remote estimation of agronomic parameters in winter wheat

Dr. Romulo Lollato
Kansas State University

In this project, the REU will be responsible for collecting in-situ data for vegetation indices on winter wheat. Digital imagery is an easier, faster way to process the data and the outcome of the project may be extremely useful for the scientific community. The student working on this project will have the opportunity to work closely with graduate students and gain knowledge of precision agriculture technologies and research.

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 process and yield formation, with the goal of 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-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? 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.

Soil Health in Rainfed Cropping Systems

Dr. Charles Rice
Kansas State University

Conduct research on soil health and nutrient dynamics in rainfed cropping systems. Evaluate the effect of cover crops and no-tillage in the soil microbial community composition and enzyme activity. Identify the microbial mechanisms driving soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics.

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. The goal is to develop a sensor that does not require soil insertion and that it can be easily relocated when needed. 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, program the sensor hardware, and conduct field validation of the sensor. This project will involve the use of components such as Arduino or Raspberry pi components. Applicants with experience in electronics, sensors, and computer programming are preferred.

Development of improved crop monitoring cameras

Dr. Tyson Ochsner
Oklahoma State University

Digital images, combined with customized image processing algorithms, can provide a wealth of information about the progress and condition of crops. However, there are no commercially available cameras optimized for continuous crop monitoring in remote locations. This research experience will engage one or more undergraduate students in the development and testing of improved crop monitoring cameras for use in our CRopland Observatory NOdeS (CRONOS). The ideal camera will be weatherproof, low cost, low power, and cellular enabled, producing consistent high-quality images across a wide range of environmental conditions. The successful applicant will work closely with the faculty and graduate students on the CRONOS team to evaluate the possibility of creating and programming such a camera system using off-the-shelf components such as Arduino or Raspberry pi. Applicants with prior experience with electronics, sensors, and computer programming in Matlab and/or Python are preferred.

Agronomy/Physiology/Microbiology

Dr. Travis Witt
USDA Grazinglands Research Laboratory, Oklahoma

Nitrogen production is important to the cropping systems of the Great Plains of the United States. One method to add nitrogen to a cropping system is through the use of legumes. However, little is known about the seed inoculants needed to increase nitrogen production in underutilized legumes such as tepary and mothbean.

Crop Physiology/Surface-atmosphere Interactions

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

Field experiments will be conducted to measure ecosystem-scale CO2 and H2O fluxes, weather data, biometric measurements (biomass, leaf area index, canopy cover percentage), and collect remote sensing observations in diverse cropping systems with different management practices. The experiment will allow students to learn the importance of crop physiology, eddy covariance measurements to document gain of carbon and loss of water, remote sensing with UAS flights, and analysis techniques. We ask that students have some experience with at least one of these processes and an interest to develop one or more of the other skills mentioned.

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.