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This project was active from March 1, 2011 through February 28, 2017. It is now complete. A great many materials remain on this site that will continue to be of value to farmers, educators and others interested in making corn-based agriculture more resilient in response to highly variable and severe weather.

Sustainable Corn Project Director, Lois Wright Morton (center) and Project Manager Lori Abendroth accept the 2016 USDA-NIFA Partnership Award from NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy on Oct. 6. News Release

Our Next Generation of Scientists

What Sustainable Corn Project Next Generation Scientists are up to now...

The project’s operations team wishes to send their appreciation to all the young scientists who participated in the Sustainable Corn Project as a post-doc or while working on their master’s degree or doctorate. The following is a snapshot of what some of them are now doing.

Becky Bailey…earned her master’s degree in agronomy, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while participating in the “middle years” of the Sustainable Corn Project (2012-2014). She’s currently a lab technician in the biology department at West Valley College in Saratoga, California. She and other biology faculty at West Valley appreciate her well-rounded sustainability/environmental/agricultural perspective that the Sustainable Corn Project helped foster.

Andrea Basche…earned a doctorate in crop production and physiology and sustainable agriculture, from Iowa State University, in the fall of 2015. She participated in the Sustainable Corn Project from its start in 2011. She now works as a research fellow for the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (USC) Food and Environment Program, in Washington, D.C. Andrea says her project experience was “a huge benefit in securing her current position.” Her work with the project—specifically experimental design, modeling approaches and her research results—shaped her thinking on how to approach her current research. It also provided her “with a wide network of experts and cohort of students” whose expertise she can continue to tap. 

Aaron Daigh…worked six months as a post doc on the Sustainable Corn Project. He had just finished his doctorate in soil science and environmental sciences at Iowa State University when he joined Dr. Helmers’ research group in the spring of 2013. He’s now an assistant professor of soil physics in the Soil Science Department at North Dakota State University. Aaron says his participation in the project helped him get his current position. “The Sustainable Corn Project helps students demonstrate to potential employers their ability to collaborate, get along with others and be a good team member.”

Trevor Frank…earned a master’s degree in agronomy at Purdue while participating in the Sustainable Corn Project. He is currently a research assistant and product development specialist at Illinois Foundation Seeds, Inc. (IFSI), at their Plover, Wisconsin research station. IFSI works on making new varieties of sweet corn. Trevor says his master’s degree and research experience with the project helped him get his current position. “The research techniques I learned from the Sustainable Corn Project team and Dr. Kladivko at Purdue have greatly helped me in performing daily duties here at IFSI.”

Linda Geiger…earned a master’s degree in agricultural and biosystems engineering while participating in the Sustainable Corn Project. She’s now a doctoral student and has an extension assistantship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “The Sustainable Corn Project definitely influenced my career goals. I recently was selected to lead an interdisciplinary team of extension educators and specialists who will focus on research and programming on soil health.”

Samuel Haruna…earned a master’s degree while participating in the project in 2013. He is now finishing up his Ph.D. dissertation and will begin a fellowship at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, in August. Samuel says the Sustainable Corn Project provided some experience he needed for his current fellowship.

Caroline Hughes…earned an MSE—master’s in engineering—from Purdue University. She now works at Epic Systems Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin, a health records system, guiding hospital IT staff in maintaining their systems. Caroline says the research and communication skills she honed while participating in the project are a big part of being successful at her current job. Working with agricultural monitoring data gave her “a lot more confidence and knowledge of programming” that she now uses, and being on a research team and practicing an investigative process helped her identify her current job as a “good match.”

Ainis Lagzdins…says he “gained valuable experience” that he can use in his present research and academic work. He’s currently an associate professor at Latvia University of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Engineering and Water Management. Ainis says, “The Sustainable Corn Project provided me with an opportunity to do a postdoctoral research in the U.S. This stay stimulated a tenure process when a position of associate professor was obtained. Also, due to my research activities within the project, I was highly evaluated in the annual evaluation of researchers at Latvia University of Agriculture.”

Dinesh Panday…received his master’s degree in the summer of 2015, from Lincoln University-Missouri. He’s currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is focusing his on cropping systems in dryland and irrigated fields for soil and nutrient management, with the application of models to quantify microbial production of greenhouse gas emissions. He says, "the Sustainable Corn Project helps students for networking, sharing of research activities, and to develop leadership capacity through a workshop series and conferences." 

José Pantoja…earned a doctorate in agronomy from Iowa State University and was a post doc for a few months after graduation. During that time he continued to work on the project. He has returned to his native Ecuador. “First I was working with the government in an academic-research project at the university level where I did some teaching and conducted research regarding fertilizer use and management in Ecuadorian crops. I also provided training for agronomists, university professors, research technicians, and farmers,” says José. This past January, he launched his own business, consulting about crop and soil management with an emphasis in soil fertility, fertilizer use, and plant nutrition. He also continues to collaborate with universities and research institutions. José says he employs all the knowledge and experiences he got while working as a part of the Sustainable Corn Project, in his current work. “For example, I have used all the things I learned about cover crops for teaching farmers in Ecuador about soil conservation and crop management.”

Gabrielle Roesch…earned a doctorate in sociology and sustainable agriculture, from Iowa State University, while participating in the Sustainable Corn Project. She is currently a Climate Hub Fellow with the Northwest Regional Climate Hub, based in Corvallis, Oregon. In her current position, she works with farmers, forest landowners, federal agencies, and other partners to address climate change impacts on working lands. Gabrielle says, “I absolutely would not have been competitive for this job without my Sustainable Corn Project experience.”

Year 5 Accomplishments... Sixteen key research findings and recommendations are noted in this summary of the project's year 5 accomplishments.


Climate Change and Agricultural Extension

This 40-page report provides findings and recommendations for building capacity for land grant university extension services to address the agricultural impacts of climate change and the adapative management needs of farmers and their advisers. The publication is a resource for extension educators and other farm advisers, as well. DOWNLOAD

Effectively Engaging Producers in Conservation Conversations

Farmers are more uncertain today than 25 years ago about the effectiveness of conservation practices. While that may be discouraging, it also means extension educators and others have an opportunity to share new scientific findings, learn from farmers about what's working and what's not working, and assist them to better manage the natural resources upon which they rely. Emphasis of this webinar recording, which originally aired on February 16, includes findings on farmer uncertainty about conservation practices, using social norms to leverage practices that address off field/off farm nutrient losses, and how the language of conservation can influence social learning and behavior change. The presenter is Lois Wright Morton, sociology professor and the Director of the Sustainable Corn Project. The webinar recording is available at the USDA NRCS Science and Technology website at the following link:

Meet the Director

Leading our team of scientists and specialists is Lois Wright Morton. The USDA recently interviewed her for their series which highlights different leading women in agriculture. Read the interview at

Climate & Ag Research by Next Generation Scientists Summarized in New Booklet

Learn about research being conducted, by our project's graduate students and post doctoral students, in a new booklet now available for viewing online.

The booklet contains 33 research summaries, describing the work of some of the next generation, climate and agriculture scientists, who are currently conducting their research with our project, under the supervision of our Principal Investigators and faculty at participating universities.

Click on the image to open and view.



Posters presented by our project's graduate students and post doctoral students, at a symposium in Washington, D.C., are available for viewing and downloading, too. Just click on "Posters" under the publications tab above.



More about the Sustainable Corn Project...

flowchart of project Field Tests

Project Partners




Sustainable Corn BLOG

Farmers and scientists in the Corn Belt discussing cover crops, weather, tillage, drainage water managment and much more.


Sustainable Corn YouTube Channel


SUSTAINABLECORN.ORG | Website Administrator
This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and
Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2011-68002-30190
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed on this website are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.