Kristine Neu (PhD) has been recognized with a 2017-18 Brown Graduate Fellowship, providing her a $10,000 scholarship for the upcoming academic year. Awarded annually, the Brown Graduate Fellowship advances Iowa State research in the areas of science, agriculture and space science that are governed by the Valentine Hammes Family and Leopold Hammes Brown Family Trust.
“Kristine is an integral part of advancing research within horticulture, and more specifically, sustainable vegetable production, because of her passion to address practical problems raised by growers,” said Director of Graduate Education Mary Wiedenhoeft, who nominated Neu for the award with the help of her advisor, Dr. Ajay Nair (Horticulture).
As one of only 15 students to receive the award, Neu said that she looks forward to the research opportunities that the fellowship will provide. Her academic work focuses on high tunnel vegetable production, tomato grafting, shade cloth use and cereal rye cultivars for no-till organic production.
“High tunnels provide a great opportunity to extend the cropping season and produce a high quality product, but there are still challenges we need to address within these systems, such as soil-borne disease, heat stress and making the most use of this high value space,” Neu said.
The Brown Graduate Fellowship will cover Neu’s tuition, allowing her to complete ongoing and future research projects during her time at Iowa State. For the upcoming growing season, Neu and Dr. Nair will initiate a research project on high tunnel production of colored bell peppers. Although raising these crops in high tunnels increases fruit quality and speeds up color development, heat stress can cause damage and profit loss for growers. The duo’s research will identify the cultivars best suited for production in Iowa, as well as explore a variety of sustainable management strategies.