ASAP Scholars

Mario Nunez
M.S. Student

Jaeyoung Han
PhD Student

As a PhD student working with Dr. Glen Hartman, Jaeyoung investigated the occurrence of nematodes in organic soybean fields in the state of Illinois. Plant parasitic nematodes, especially soybean cyst nematode, damage soybean cultivation throughout the United States, while free-living nematodes are used as a measure of healthy soil.  Jay’s research objectives were to (1) evaluate nematode populations in organic soybean fields, (2) track changes of nematode populations in accordance with application of organic amendments on organic soybean fields, and (3) conduct a greenhouse evaluation to investigate the natural suppressiveness of organic field soil in terms of control of plant pathogenic nematodes.

Ross Wagstaff, M.S. Soil Science

Ross worked in the Urban Agriculture Research Lab in the Department of Crop Sciences to study plants and the urban environment.  He characterize the atmospheric environment along an urban to rural latitudinal transect through the Chicago, IL metropolitan region to understand crop and cultivar plant physiological response to altered environmental conditions along this urban to rural latitudinal transect; 3) determine the relative influence of each environmental factor on crop and cultivar physiological response and fruit quality; and 4) understand ecological processes of urban food production by monitoring insect and soil microbe diversity and population across the urban to rural gradient.

Our first three ASAP Scholars: Rafter Ferguson, Dane Hunter and Ron Revord

Sarah Brown
M.S. Student

Master’s student, Sarah Brown, worked on synthesizing the global evidence for the impacts of agroforestry on agricultural productivity, ecosystem services, and human-wellbeing.  Her advisor was Dr. Dan Miller.  Her research goal was to engage with farmers, researchers, and institutions to help inform decision-making and shape programs and policies to help support sustainable agricultural practices, particularly in the U.S. Midwest. She is passionate about creating healthy food systems to improve both the lives of people and the environment.

Adam Kranz completed his MS studying the effects of plant species composition on insect pest, predator, and parasitoid communities in the agroforest. He worked at the Woody Perennial Polyculture Research Site ( It is a diverse agroforestry plantingmodeled after native Illinois oak savanna, and includes a variety of fruit and nut crops. The goals of the site include quantifying ecological and economic comparisons between the agroforestry treatment and a conventional corn-soy control.

Ron Revord
M.S. Student

As a M.S. student in NRES, Ron designed his research in plant breeding around the betterment of agroecological systems. He worked with hybrid hazelnuts (Corylus americana C. avellana) to improve resistance to Eastern Filbert Blight. The study aimed to confirm pre-breeding and backcross strategies as well as improve phenotyping protocol and marker-assisted selection.

The deliverables of Ron’s study have been identified as critical next steps in the development of varieties for an expanding upper Midwest hazelnut industry. His work contributes to the further adoption of this crop and the associated ecological rehabilitation potentials.

This research grew out of Ron’s interest in permaculture.  Previously, he and and a small team of others including U of I student, Kevin Wolz, and author and permaculturalist Mark Shepard, worked to increase interest and understanding of Woody Perennial Permaculture.

Ron is currently a faculty member at the University of Missouri