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Where Are They Now?

For more than a decade, college students from across the country have joined the Noble Research Institute for a summer of preparing for careers in science and agriculture. We’ve followed up with a few of them to see how those futures are shaping up.

Posted May 15, 2019

Michael Passalacqua

Michael Passalacqua, 2016 Plant Scholar

Baylor College of Medicine
Research Assistant

What did the program show you?

The program showed me the many possibilities in research. I realized there is a lot of space in the field to study traits that could dramatically help farmers and ranchers.

What are you doing now?

I am applying to graduate schools for plant breeding and plant genetics. I’d like to work on using gene editing and gene transfer to improve abiotic stress and yield-focused traits.

What would you tell others about the program?

The program helped solidify my love of plant science and was an excellent experience for the summer. If you’re thinking of a Ph.D. in plant science, it’s one of the best experiences you could ask for.

Kelsey Hoegenauer

Kelsey Hoegenauer, 2010 Ag Scholar

Soil Health Institute
Project Scientist

What did you learn as a scholar?

I was able to see firsthand how scientific agricultural research directly impacts farmers and ranchers. I also learned how to conduct applicable scientific research and describe the practical implications of the results.

How does this tie to what you do now?

This ties much to what I do today in collecting soil samples and analyzing data from long-term research sites across North America to evaluate the impact of long-term management on soil health parameters.

How else did your experience help prepare you for the future?

The researchers and consultants I worked with were great teachers and mentors. They provided meaningful hands-on learning opportunities that helped me apply what I learned in the college classroom. When applying for graduate school and jobs, my experience at Noble was viewed as meaningful and notable by interviewers.

Veronica Greve

Veronica Greve, 2014 Plant Scholar

Hudson Alpha Institute of Biotechnology
Genetic Counselor

How do you draw on your scholar experience today?

Participating in the scholar program helped me become familiar with data analysis and interpretation that is relevant to my current field through performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS). The information I learned through that experiment now helps me interpret human GWAS studies and understand how those findings can impact human health.

What would you tell someone who is considering the program?

I would say apply. It is a unique opportunity to gain useful research skills and make connections with current researchers and your peers who also have a passion for agriculture and science.

What should a student do to get the most out of the program?

Think of some key skills you would like to learn. It could be bench work, analysis or soft skills. From my experience, mentors fully embrace that title and are quick to help fulfill those goals.

Samantha Beard

Samantha Beard, 2017 Ag Scholar

North American Meat Institute
Manager of Legislative and Public Affairs

What did you learn as a scholar?

The experience and education I gained at Noble far exceeded most anything I learned in a classroom. I was introduced to issues and experiences I had never encountered before: feral hogs, prescribed fire, and advanced technologies like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

What was your most valuable experience during the summer?

I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., with fellow scholars. Throughout the course of the trip, I experienced a side of agriculture that is rarely discussed but is vital to the future of our industry: government advocacy.

How has that helped you get to where you are now?

I always had an interest in being a voice for agriculture, but I didn’t have a clear direction on how best to apply myself. The experience and the connections made during my trip to Washington, D.C., would later bring me back to our nation’s capital for an internship with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s public policy team and on to my current job.

Bray Haven

Bray Haven, 2016 Ag Scholar

Norvell Consulting Community and
Government Affairs Consultant,
Oklahoma Youth Expo Director of Operations

How did the program expand your understanding of agriculture?

For a small-town kid from western Oklahoma who grew up with knowledge of only beef cattle and wheat, the broad in-depth knowledge of the Noble staff and their research helped me understand more about all of Oklahoma’s agriculture industries.

How has that helped you in your current roles?

It opened my eyes to new ideas and innovative technology in an industry so vitally important to this state. It was an experience that I draw on regularly in my current position working with elected officials on all levels.

What would you tell students about the program?

Spending a summer at the Noble Research Institute should be a goal of any student looking to broaden and expand their experience within the agriculture industry. The staff and Noble family make you feel right at home.

It’s also a great opportunity to meet other students from across the country who are passionate about agriculture. I still try to keep up with fellow scholars on social media and see the great work many of them are doing.

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