During my time at Delaware I have also been involved in many undergraduate research projects which will prove to be valuable experiences for graduate school. My first experience conducting undergraduate research was in Dr. Wisser’s lab. I first started as a seed technician for a maize breeding program. During my time on this project I helped sort, clean, shell, label, and organize maize seed, as well as assist in planting and plot layout of field trials. I also had the opportunity to work in Dr. Wisser’s molecular biology laboratory where I conducted research on lima bean DNA in an attempt to identify and develop molecular markers which could then be used to select and breed desirable traits into lima bean varieties. This was my first exposure to academic laboratory research and served as a valuable learning experience. I learned proper laboratory techniques and protocols, data collection and interpretation, as well as critical thinking skills. I have also been able to further hone my research skills by conducting multiple small-scale research projects under Dr. Taylor. While working with Dr. Taylor, I helped determine the practicality of new plant growth-promoting products available to growers. Such products included a soil innoculant, composted chicken litter, and an irrigation water conditioner system. As you can see, I have been heavily involved with research for much of my undergraduate career, which would prove to be useful experiences for research in a master’s program.
When I entered UD as an undergraduate student, I did not consider graduate school as a possibility; I thought that four years of studying plants would be enough, and that there couldn’t possibly be more information to learn and discover. But as I sit here as a graduating senior, I realize just how naive I was at the time. All of my undergraduate experiences have pushed me toward, and prepared me for graduate school. As a master’s student, I would like to conduct research related to some aspect of agronomy. Advancements in agronomy and cultural practices have made huge contributions to increasing yield, reducing negative environmental impacts from agriculture, and increased profit margins for producers. With advancements in seed technology, chemical technology, biotechnology, and climate change, research into new agronomic practices and techniques is needed in order to maximize production and mitigate the environmental impact of production agriculture. I believe that there is still much that we can learn from agronomic research, especially here in Delaware and on the Delmarva peninsula, where farmers are caught in a constant battle between maximizing production and minimizing their environmental impact. As a graduate student, I would like to explore some area of agronomic crop production so that it may be applied to the field and make production more profitable for the farmer and/or safer for the environment.
In addition to furthering my education and fulfilling my curiosity for advanced knowledge in agronomy, having a master’s degree will make me a distinguished individual on the job market. With the economy still scraping rock-bottom, employers are reluctant to hire new employees, and if they are willing to hire, they want people that have either experience or advanced degrees. With a master’s degree, I will stand out because I will not only have years of related academic and research experience, but also an advanced degree. Acquiring a master’s degree will put me one step closer to my career goal, which is to become an extension agronomist for a university or an agronomist for an agricultural seed, chemical, fertilizer, or co-op company.
With the impending population explosion within the next few decades, we will be forced to produce far more food, fiber, feed, and fuel from plants than we are even capable of producing in 2012. To add to the challenge, we are losing much of the world’s arable land, and in developed countries such as ours, we are losing farmers. So how will we produce enough food, fiber, and fuel to sustain the world’s population? The answer will be through sharing and advancing agricultural technology. Producing “…as much food as we have in the previous 10,000 years combined” seems like an impossible task, but I believe we can do it; we have no other option because the alternative is not acceptable. I am excited to see what the future holds for the field of agriculture, and I want to be part of its future. I want to be part of the advancement of agricultural knowledge and technology so that the history books 100 years from now do not mention a worldwide famine in the year 2060, instead highlight the incredible advancements which allowed us to sustain the world’s population, while at the same time mitigating the environmental impact of production agriculture. My innate passion for agriculture, educational background, and related work and research experiences have positioned me for success in graduate school. Therefore, I hope that you seriously consider my application for a master’s degree in plant science.