This year, we had 5 fantastic participants in our Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program. These students came to us from three different universities with a variety of STEM experiences and career goals. You can read more about each participant and view their research posters below.

I am an undergraduate student at Iowa State studying elementary education. I am pursuing a minor in learning technology as well as endorsements in social studies and reading. Growing up in Ankeny, Iowa, I became interested in education, and this interest grew at Iowa State. Through working on campus at the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching, I have developed a passion for science and technology in the classroom. After graduation, I look forward to a career in elementary or middle school education.

I applied because… I want to strengthen my understanding of science both in and outside of the classroom. I am looking to learn more about the environment around Iowa so that I can be more knowledgeable about biology and earth science when I eventually teach it.

I learned… to continually look to learn about the environment around me. By doing this research, I learned so much about agriculture in Iowa, and want to continue learning more. All of the resources my team shared with me were very informational, and in doing lab and field
research, I could connect this information with my own work.


I’m a sophomore at Iowa State University. I am majoring in chemistry education with an endorsement in all sciences. I am from Des Moines, IA. There are many reasons why I’m interested in education, but the main ones are making an impact within my community and the continuous learning experiences that teaching offers.

I applied because… I thought it would be a valuable experience. I’m learning from 21 teachers about their experiences while also being in a lab and getting to experience a research project alongside Ph.D. and master’s students, which many undergrads don’t get a chance to do!

I learned… how important it is to have a comfortable community. Not only did I find this with the group of teachers, but my research lab team had a sense of comfortability in communication that was vital to learning new things. Without the baseline of comfortable communication, this summer internship wouldn’t be the same!


I am enrolled in my senior year at Bethel University in Tennessee majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Field and Environment. I will graduate in December 2023, and I plan to pursue a graduate degree in soil science and focus on plant-soil interactions, particularly on the host defense response enhanced by the biological processes of microorganismal communities in the rhizosphere. I was born and raised in Senegal, West Africa. 

I applied because… I wanted to gain knowledge and research experience in agriculture, particularly in cover crops and maize. I also wanted to work with teachers to help middle school and high school students discover more about STEM by doing handson training.

I learned… more about how research is conducted. The experience I gained doing a lot of field work and learning about the physiological response of maize in presence of the perennial ground cover will be useful for my future career.


I am a junior at Iowa State University majoring in elementary education with endorsements in math and reading, and a learning technologies minor. I am from Ankeny, Iowa. I am interested in education because I enjoy learning and growing, and research because it creates authentic learning experiences for me to bring back into my future classroom. After I graduate from Iowa State, I hope to teach any grade Kindergarten through 5th grade!

I applied because… I thought it would offer me something I could bring back to my future classroom and my students could get involved with. This is my second year on this project, and it is super interesting to me as I do not have much experience working in the fields. I have really enjoyed getting involved!

I learned… more about the greenness of the perennial ground cover and how that can impact the corn growth, and I looked at how the soil stability has changed in different environments (drought, rain, etc.). These ideas can be brought into my future classroom to help enrich my students’ understanding of plants and how farming works.


I am a rising junior studying economics with a minor in statistics and data science at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. I am originally from Ames, Iowa. I’m always interested in learning new and exciting information and have always been interested in STEM and how we can incorporate it further into our education systems. My post-undergraduate plans include working in a STEM field encouraging discoveries for the future.

I applied because… I wanted to learn more about the real-life application of the research process and was interested in real-world solutions for problems in our environment. The REU Program allows me to take an active role in creating solutions for future generations.

I learned… to always be open to new ideas and learning. This summer, I worked in an agronomy lab on the RegenPGC grant, and this grant focused on a topic that was not my central area of study. I was able to learn a variety of new skills and gain knowledge that I would not have encountered imy path of study at St. Olaf College, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. Additionally, witnessing the diverse array of
knowledge present in the McDaniel Lab allowed for further opportunities of learning growth.