28 Oct 2011

2011 Scholar Award Recipients Announced by International Plant Nutrition Institute


October 28, 2011 – Norcross, Georgia, USA – The 2011 winners of the Scholar Award sponsored by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) have been selected. The individual awards of USD 2,000 (two thousand dollars) are available to graduate students enrolled in science programs relevant to plant nutrition and management of crop nutrients.

The selection committee adheres to rigorous guidelines in considering important aspects of each applicant’s academic achievements. Funding for the Scholar Award program is provided through support of IPNI member companies, primary producers of nitrogen, phosphate, potash, and other fertilizers. Graduate students must also attend a degree-granting institution located in any country with an IPNI Program.

IPNI has named 20 (twenty) graduate students as recipients of the IPNI Scholar Award. A listing of the regional distribution of the IPNI Scholars and their respective university/institution is provided below.

• Grace Kanonge, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
• Boaz S. Waswa, Centre for Development Research (ZEF), Bonn, Germany

Australia/New Zealand:
• Brooke Ryan, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

• Li Wang, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Beijing, China
• Chuan Limin, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Beijing, China
• Ying Xia, Wuhan Botanical Garden, Hubei, China

Eastern Europe & Central Asia:
• Elena Pavlova, Omsk State Agrarian University, Omsk, Russia
• Dmitry V. Bozhkov, Soil Science and Land Resources Department, South Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia

Latin America:
• Darío Sebastián Ceballos, Buenos Aires University, Campana, Argentina
• Diogo Mendes de Paiva, Universidade Federal de Vicosa, Vicosa, Brazil
• Maria Elena Cardenas, Universidad de Sonora, Pueblo Yaqui, Mexico

North America:
• Ronald Navarrete-Ganchozo, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
• Tyler J. Nigon, University of Minnesota, South Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
• Joshua N. Cobb, Cornell University, Brooktondale, New York, USA
• Jared Crain, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA
• Cameron Pittelkow, University of California, Davis, California, USA

South Asia:
• Gopal Ramdas Mahajan, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India
• Shahid Hussain, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
• Sumanta Kundu, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Calcutta University, Kolkata, India

Southeast Asia:
• Fabien F. Tengoua, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Malaysia

Following is a brief summary for each of the winners.

Ms. Grace Kanonge is a Master of Philosophy student at University of Zimbabwe Department of Soil Science & Agricultural Engineering (SSAE) in Harare, Zimbabwe. She is working towards completion of her thesis entitled “A Fertilizer Management Strategy for Enhanced Legume-Cereal Productivity under Smallholder Farming Systems of Zimbabwe” The study sought to enable resource constrained smallholder farmers to efficiently manage combinations of locally available organic nutrient resources and purchased mineral fertilizers [particularly (P)] to increase productivity and rotational benefits of N2-fixing grain legumes on staple maize. Under this management concept, targeted P fertilization of the legumes, to increase N inputs from the biological nitrogen fixation, was evaluated against a traditional fertilization option under which a subsequent legume is dependent on residual fertility. Ms. Kanonge is in the process of publishing results of her research in peer-reviewed journals, and hopes to develop her research capabilities further by pursuing a doctorate degree in soil fertility and plant nutrition.

Mr. Boaz S. Waswa is pursuing his Ph.D. at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) in Bonn, Germany. His dissertation is titled “Assessment of Land Degradation Patterns in Western Kenya: Implications for Restoration and Rehabilitation.” The study aims to assess long-term spatial and temporal patterns of land degradation using multi-scale satellite data sets. Detailed field observations and measurements along with a socio-economic survey will help understand the decision-making process for regional land management. The principles learned could be applied to derive a set of recommendations needed for sustainable land management in Kenya. Mr. Waswa aspires to be a technical advisor to government or other agencies working in the areas of food security and environmental conservation.

Ms. Brooke Ryan is working toward her Ph.D. at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia. Her dissertation title is “The Isotopic Discrimination of Copper in Soil-Plant Systems” which aims to use stable isotopes of copper (63Cu and 65Cu) and their fractionation to examine the source, behavior, and plant uptake mechanisms of copper within the soil-plant environment. The information gained from this work could potentially be used to develop models to track natural and anthropogenic copper in terrestrial environments, and improve crop management practices for increased fertilizer efficiency, crop growth, and micronutrient content. For the future, Ms. Ryan’s goal is to pursue a career in research working on environmental protection and remediation, especially in the area of heavy metal contamination.

Mr. Li Wang started his Ph.D. program in 2010 at the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning in Beijing, China. His dissertation is titled “Study on the Mechanism of Adaptation to Water and Low Potassium Stress of Different Potassium-Efficient Cotton Genotypes.” Objectives of his study involve comparing two cotton genotypes for growth dynamics, biomass, K partitioning, K use efficiency, anatomical structure, root hair, quantity of soil microbes, and morphology of roots. For the future, Mr. Li intends to continue research and extension work on plant nutrition and soil fertility to help optimize fertilizer use.

Ms. Chuan Limin is pursuing her Ph.D. at the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Beijing, China. Her dissertation title is “Nutrition Management and Fertilizer Recommendation in Wheat Based on Yield Response and Agronomic Efficiency.” A native of Hebei, Ms. Chuan earned her Master’s in 2010 at the Hebei Agricultural University of China. Her research is focused on using the QUEFTS (Quantitative Evaluation of Fertility of Tropical Soils) model to derive appropriate nutrient recommendations to maximize yield and optimize nutrient use efficiencies in wheat. In the future, Ms. Chuan hopes to be in a faculty position at a leading university of work in a scientific role with an international research institution.

Ms. Ying Xia is working toward a doctorate degree at Wuhan Botanical Garden in Hubei, China. Her research work is on understanding the mechanism of utilization of K in cotton genotypes with different K efficiencies through root box, water culture, and grafting experiments. This research will provide more scientific information that could be used to develop new approaches to improve K use efficiency. Ms. Xia has an impressive resume of academic achievements, awards, patents, and publications. For the future, her goal is to become an agricultural scientist.

Mr. Dmitry Bozhkov started his Ph.D. degree in 2010 at the Soil Science and Land Resources Department of South Federal University in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. “Optimization of Mineral Nutrition of New Grain Varieties” is the title of his dissertation. During his study he has received numerous awards, has already authored and co-authored a number of scientific works, and has demonstrated a strong commitment to involvement within the Russian soil science research community. After completing his Ph.D., Dmitry hopes to develop a related research career in Russia or abroad.

Ms. Elena Pavlova is working towards her Master’s degree at the Omsk State Agrarian University, Omsk, Russia. Her thesis title is “The Influence of Different Methods of Zinc Application on Winter Triticale in West Siberia.” Findings of her investigations are already becoming a part of fertilizer rate assessments for winter triticale crops grown within the region. She has received many awards throughout her postgraduate career and has described a great interest in participating within community awareness programs with global scope. Ms. Pavlova hopes to continue her postgraduate work within a Ph.D. program also at the Omsk State Agrarian University.

Mr. Darío Sebastián Ceballos is completing requirements for his Master’s program in Natural Resources at Buenos Aires University, Argentina. His thesis includes a chapter related to “Land Use Change and Nitrogen versus Phosphorus: Relative Limitation in Marsh of Scirpus giganteus and Populus deltoides plantations in drainage soils in the Lower Delta of the Paraná River.” His research work is aimed at understanding nutrient dynamics in these vulnerable wetlands areas of reforestation. This work could help provide answers to the question of how to grow fiber and feed for the island families without changing their culture. Mr. Ceballos hopes to continue his research efforts on aspects of forest nutrition and change of land use.

Mr. Diogo Mendes de Paiva is working toward his Ph.D. degree in Soil and Plant Nutrition at Universidade Federal de Viçosa in Viçosa, Brazil. His dissertation is titled “Reducing Ammonia Volatilization from Urea Fertilizer by Coating with Humic-like Substances Obtained from Eucalyptus Charcoal.” His research work is intended to present an alternative for reducing ammonia volatilization from the most used N fertilizer worldwide by coating the urea with a polymer obtained from eucalyptus coal. Preliminary results have shown a decrease in ammonia volatilization of 43% when coating was used. His near future goal is to spend time abroad during his Ph.D. studies to refine the use of the proposed technique for reducing ammonia volatilization. His medium-to-long term goal is to progress as a researcher specialized in fertilizer technology and use.

Ms. Maria Elena Cardenas is pursuing her Masters degree in Agricultural Science at Universidad de Sonora in Santa Ana, Mexico. Her research work is focused on evaluating different wheat varieties as they respond to P application and on assessing the relationship between normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and P deficiency in wheat. The aim of this study is to develop a diagnostic tool to guide P fertilization in wheat based on yield estimation by NDVI readings at jointing stage and grain P. For the future, Ms. Cardenas wants to continue her research efforts aimed at developing new knowledge and tools to increase food production in a sustainable manner.

Mr. Gopal Ramdas Mahajan is pursuing his Ph.D. in Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi, India. His thesis title is “Development of Site-Specific Integrated Nutrient Management for the Hybrid Rice-Wheat Cropping System Using Soil Test Crop Response Correlation Studies.” Mr. Mashajan earned his Masters in 2009 from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and a Bachelors degree in 2007 at Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri, Maharashtra. Mr. Mahajan’s research is focused on developing individual as well as whole crop system soil test-based recommendation systems for target yields of hybrid rice and wheat and to develop in-situ spectral methods of fertilizer recommendation for the same cropping system. Mr. Mahajan has a strong rural background and his intentions are to work as a scientist at a grass roots (village) level in an effort to increase awareness about balanced plant nutrition with the goal of maximizing local benefits both in terms of farm profitability and environmental protection.

Mr. Shahid Hussain is working toward a doctorate degree at University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan. His dissertation is titled “Bioavailable Grain Zinc in Wheat Varieties of Pakistan and Strategies for Biofortification.” This study aims to evaluate zinc fertilization and other agronomic means to increase grain zinc concentrations and to decrease the phytate-to-zinc molar ratio (an indicator of zinc bioavailability) in wheat grains. For the future, Mr. Hussain hopes to become an agricultural scientist and to continue his research efforts on biofortification of cereal grains with essential minerals.

Mr. Sumanta Kundu is completing requirements for his Ph.D. Program in Agronomy at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Calcutta University, India. His thesis title is “Improving Nutrient Use Efficiency and Profitability through Conservation Tillage and Improved Nutrient Management in the Maize-Horsegram Cropping Sequence in Rainfed Alfisols.” This research is aimed to develop a set of best management practices that include a sustainable nutrient management strategy in combination with conservation tillage and soil amendments.

Mr. Fabien F. Tengoua is pursuing his Ph.D. in soil fertility and plant nutrition at Universiti Putra Malaysia in Serdang, Malaysia. His dissertation title is “Nutritional Characteristics of Ganoderma Susceptible and Ganoderma Tolerant Oil Palm Seedlings.” This research intends to reduce the incidence of basal stem rot disease in oil palm by improving its lignin content through manipulating nutrients involved directly or indirectly in lignin biosynthesis, like boron, copper, and manganese. The study aims to determine the optimum concentration of these nutrients for oil palm growth, see how the combination of the optimum concentrations can influence the incidence and severity of Ganoderma basal stem rot in oil palm, and devise fertilizer recommendations based on the results of this research. In the future, Mr. Tengoua wishes to continue his research efforts and share the knowledge and experience gained through this process with students by teaching part-time in the university.

Mr. Ronald Navarrete-Ganchozo is completing requirements for his Ph.D. in Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA. His dissertation is titled “Long-term Study of the Impact of Potassium Application Rates on Soil Potassium Bio-Availability in a Corn-Soybean Rotation: Effect on Critical Soil Test Potassium Values, Yield, and Net Soil Potassium Balance.” A native of Ecuador, he earned his Master’s degree in 2009 from Texas A&M University in Texas, USA, and his Bachelor’s degree in 2005 from the Panamerican School of Agriculture “Zamorano” in Honduras. His research is focused on improving the ability to predict spatial and temporal variations in K bioavailability, which is critical to optimize fertilizer use and reduce production costs. For the future, Mr. Navarrete-Ganchozo aims to continue his research, education, and extension efforts to become a professional capable of understanding the complexity of processes in soil nutrient dynamics and its effect on plant nutrition at a global scale.

Mr. Tyler Nigon is working toward his Masters degree in Land and Atmospheric Science at the University of Minnesota (Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA). His research is focused on the fusion of airborne hyperspectral and thermal imagery for detecting spatial variation in the N and water status of a potato crop. At a commercial scale, this technology has the opportunity to allow increased spatial and temporal precision of N and water applications during critical growth stages of the crop. Mr. Nigon has an impressive resume of academic achievements and awards. Mr. Nigon’s career plan is to use his soil knowledge and broad agricultural background to assist farmers with management strategies in order to improve production efficiencies while conserving soil and water resources. He is considering the opportunity to pursue a Doctorate degree immediately following the completion of his Masters degree.

Mr. Joshua N. Cobb is pursuing his Doctorate degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA. His dissertation title is “Characterization of Natural Variation for Plant Mineral Nutrient Homeostasis in Domestic Asian Rice Using Genome-Wide Association Mapping.” This research aims to extend the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework by also considering the range of genetic variation for nutrient use efficiency that exists across varieties within a crop. In the future, Mr. Cobb intends to develop an internationally collaborative research program to investigate the potential of genetic variation and genotype by environment interaction to improve abiotic stress tolerance, nutrient use efficiency, and response to nutrient application in the major cereal grains.

Mr. Jared Crain is completing requirements for his Masters degree in Plant and Soil Science at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA. His thesis title is “Evaluation of New Prototype NDVI Sensor for Improved Nitrogen Management.” This research is focused on evaluating the performance of a new, inexpensive NDVI sensor in corn and wheat with an aim to develop methods to use this sensor accurately to make N recommendations. For the future, Mr. Crain wishes to pursue a doctorate in crop science and further his research interests to provide the world an adequate and safe food supply.

Mr. Cameron Pittelkow is working toward his Ph.D. in Agronomy at University of California, Davis, USA. His research is focused on nitrogen management practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining agronomic productivity in California rice systems. The primary goal of this work is to address issues of crop production and environment from an agronomic approach (4R Nutrient Stewardship) by testing the hypothesis that yield increases and environmental protection can be achieved simultaneously. Mr. Pittelkow’s career goal is to apply his agronomic knowledge and insights to international agricultural development efforts through research and extension.

The IPNI Scholar Award recipients are selected by regional committees of IPNI scientific staff. The awards are presented directly to the students at their universities and no specific duties are required of them. Graduate students in the disciplines of soil and plant sciences including agronomy, horticulture, ecology, soil fertility, soil chemistry, crop physiology, and other areas related to plant nutrition are encouraged to apply. More information is available from IPNI staff, from individual universities, or from the IPNI website: >www.ipni.net/awards<.