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Graduate Students

Current Students

Meet some of the graduate students who are currently involved in CEFS research:

Amanda McWhirt
Ph.D. candidate, Crop Science
North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno

Amanda's research is focused on how different combinations of soil management and fumigation practices influence strawberry production in the Southeast. She is examining the individual and combined uses of compost, cover crops, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and vermicompost inoculations as a means to improve soil organic matter, microbial activity, and balance fertility. In doing so she hopes to evaluate which sustainable soil management practices provide the most benefit to both conventional and organic growers. Additionally, she will evaluate the tri-trophic level interactions of these soil amendments for their influence on above-ground pest populations.

Angel Cruz
M.S. candidate, Crop Science
North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno

Angel is looking at how the different long term farming systems units at CEFS impact arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and Rhizobia diversity. To follow up on this, I am using greenhouse studies to examine why AMF diversity is important and how diversity affects crops responses to drought conditions.

Drew Marticorena
Ph.D. candidate, Horticulture
North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Nancy Creamer

Drew is studying the holistic value of different agricultural production and marketing practices to the North Carolina community, over both the short and long terms. Through collaborations with stakeholders throughout the state representing a range of practices (conventional/organic/sustainable, commodity/vegetable/animal/bio-dynamic, sold locally/abroad) Drew is developing a methodology to commensurately measure these practices' unique economic, social, and environmental impacts. This work is motivated by the acknowledged need by those involved in long term regional planning to have rigorous quantitative metrics by which to evaluate different policy choices over the long run. This work is funded through the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program within the USDA.

Jacob Rutz
M.S. candidate, Crop Science
North Carolina State University 
Advisors: Dr. Dara Bloom/Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno

Jacob is involved in the Farm to Childcare initiative, partnering with Wake County Smart Start, Wake County Extension and Advocates for Health in Action to bring local, fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income childcare facilities in Wake County. Jacob is investigating the farmer side of this value-chain, researching various barriers to entry, complexities of long-term farm-direct relationships and efficacy of local food aggregators to meet this need. Jacob welcomes further collaboration!

Sean Bloszies
Ph.D. Candidate, Plant Pathology
North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Shuijin Hu


Sean researches how different low-input and organic farming practices affect soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling. His experiments seek to answer how different legume cover crops and spring termination practices affect soil organic matter levels; how N availability affects the contribution of mycorrhizal fungi to soil C; and how soil organic matter levels in various organic and conventional rotations affect emissions of N2O,  which is both a potent greenhouse
gas and a loss of soil N.

 

 

 

 

     

Student Work

Organic Heirloom Tomato Production in High Tunnel and Open Field Systems, by Suzanne O'Connell

Cover Crop Mulches for No-Till Organic Onion Production, by Emily Vollmer

Grafting and High Tunnels Heirloom Tomato Production, by Cary Rivard and Suzanne O'Connell

Grafted Tomato Performance in Organic Production Systems: Nutrient Uptake, Plant Growth and Yield, by Suzanne O'Connell

Dung Beetles of Central and Eastern North Carolina Cattle Pastures, by Matt Bertone

The Contribution of Tunneling Dung Beetles to Pasture Soil Nutrition, by Matt Bertone

More graduate students and student research

Student Grants

Evaluation of herbal remedies as alternatives to antibiotic therapy in dairy cattle. 2010-2012. Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Graduate Student Grant. Keena Mullen, Kevin Anderson, and Steven Washburn. $9,990.

Predictors of short-term nitrogen availability in organic farming systems that utilize warm season cover crops. 2010-2012. Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Graduate Student Grant. Suzanne O'Connell and Nancy Creamer. $10,000.

Managing Field Borders for Weed Seed Predators. 2010. Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Graduate Student Grant. Aaron Fox and Chris Reberg-Horton. $9,856.

Evaluating vermicompost mediated host plant resistance as a sustainable alternative to manage agricultural insect plants. 2009. Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Graduate Student Grant. Amos Little and Yasmin Cardoza. $9,810.

Traits of interest for improving weed suppressive ability of soybean during the critical period for weed competition. 2008-2009. Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Graduate Student Grant. George Place and Chris Reberg-Horton. $9,972.

Potential of grafting to improve nutrient management of heirloom tomatoes on organic farms. 2007-2009. Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Graduate Student Grant. Suzanne O'Connell, Ken Dawson, Stefan Hartmann, Alex Hitt, Frank Louws, Mary Peet, and Cary Rivard. $10,000.

Student Awards

Interactions of Sustainable Soil Management Practices and Fumigation Strategy on SE Strawberry Production. Amanda McWhirtMichelle Schroeder-Moreno, Yasmin Cardoza, Gina Fernandez and Hannah Burrack. Third place at the Warren S. Barham PhD Graduate Student Paper Awards at the Southern Region American Society of Horticultural Science meeting, January 2015.

Susceptibility of the vinegar fly (Drosophila repleta) to two strains of Beauveria bassiana isolated from house flies (Musca domestica). 1st place, MS student oral presentations, Medical Urban Veterinary Entomology section, National Entomological Society of America Conference. 2011. Lena Guisewite.

This study looked at the efficacy of two house fly-derived strains of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana against Drosophila repleta, a common nuisance fly in swine production. Approximately 87% of the house flies exposed to the fungus died of infection with a mean time to mortality of 6.7 days. In contrast vinegar flies were slightly more tolerant of infection with 81% mortality, and a mean time to death of 8.9 days. These data suggest that selection of entomopathogenic fungal strains for greater activity against vinegar flies may produce a promising biological control agent of this swine pest.

The performance of grafted heirloom tomatoes in two organic production systems: High tunnels and the open field. 1st place, American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) National Graduate Student Poster Competition. 2008. Suzanne O'Connell, Mary M. Peet, Frank J. Louws, Cary L. Rivard, and Chris D. Harlow.

Nutrient uptake efficiency and plant growth indicators of grafted tomatoes. 1st place, American Society of Horticultural Science, Southern Region (S-ASHS) Graduate Student Poster Competition. 2008. Suzanne O'Connell and Mary M. Peet.

 

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