May 21, 2024

Grad students compete in soybean research

Heidi Allen Asensio (from left), Darby Danzl and Danillo Leite won first, third and second, respectively, at the Student Research Poster Competition at the Illinois Soybean Association’s Soybean Summit.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Thirteen enterprising graduate students researching soybean topics at universities across Illinois exhibited their innovative projects during the Illinois Soybean Association’s recent Soybean Summit.

As part of the ISA’s second annual Student Research Poster Competition, the students highlighted their agronomic findings to an audience of farmers and other agricultural professionals.

The competition featured the graduate students presenting posters on diverse topics related to soybeans, ranging from nitrogen management in winter wheat double crops to the impact of crop rotations on productivity and environmental sustainability.

Three winners were selected among the 13 graduate students who showcased their expertise and research contributions to the soybean industry.

Heidi Allen Asensio, a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying under Andrew Margenot, earned first place in the competition for her research, “Towards sustainable soybeans: A yearlong assessment of soil health, water quality and climate footprint of Illinois soybeans.”

Claiming second place was Danillo Leite, a Ph.D. student at Southern Illinois University studying under Ahmad Fakhoury, for his work, “Stem diseases of soybeans: Identifying the prevalent causing pathogens across Illinois.”

Darby Danzl, a master of science student at the U of I Urbana-Champaign studying under Fred Below, clinched third place for her study, “Managing decomposition of cereal rye residues in no-till soybeans for timely nutrient release.”

Other student-presented research topics included:

• “Does nitrogen management in winter wheat affect its yield and nitrate-n leaching in a wheat-soybean double cropping system?” — Oluwaseun Ola, Ph.D. student at SIU under Amir Sadeghpour.

• “Soybean performance and soil nitrous oxide emissions after six and eight years of tillage and cover cropping” — Folahanmi Adeyemi, Ph.D. student at SIU under Sadeghpour.

• “Assessing fall applied phosphorus sources and wheat cover crop on the following soybean performance” — Moein Javid, master of science student at SIU under Sadeghpour.

• “Does a long-term no-till in corn-soybean rotation decrease nitrous oxide emissions in Southern Illinois?” — Sowmya Koduru, Ph.D. student at SIU under Sadeghpour.

• “Palmer amaranth: discovering weaknesses of seedlings for management in soybean fields” — Cimmy Nakum, master of science student at U of I Chicago under Kate Warpeha.

• “Impact of pennycress in different Illinois crop rotation systems on soybean yield” — Rashmi Dangol, master of science student at Illinois State University under Nicholas Heller.

• “Detection of soybean SCN infection using multi-scale remote sensing” — Yuhua Wang, master of science student at SIU under Ruopu Li.

• “Liposomal encapsulation of trichoderma cell-free filtrate and its antifungal activity against Fusarium virguliforme” — Jonna Atienza-Parcon, Ph.D. student at SIU under Fakhoury.

• “Soybean planting date impacts the response to agronomic management” — Miranda Ochs, master of science student at U of I Urbana-Champaign under Below.

• “Assessing the impacts of crop rotations on crop productivity and environmental sustainability in the U.S. Midwest” — Ziyi Li, Ph.D. student at U of I Urbana-Champaign under Kaiyu Guan.

The students engaged with farmers and agricultural professionals throughout the exhibit, sharing insights and fielding questions about their research and how it bridged the intersection between scientific inquiry and its practical application at the farm level.

“Being able to share my research with everyone at the event was an amazing experience. Typically, the scientific conferences I present posters at do not have any farmers in attendance, so the Soybean Summit provided a unique opportunity for me to share our findings with them,” Danzl said.

“As a researcher, nothing is more rewarding than having a positive impact on farming operations, as this is our goal when we design these studies.”

The event reinforced the Illinois Soybean Association’s commitment to supporting students pursuing careers in agriculture.

“We truly value the opportunity to support students, especially those pursuing careers in agriculture,” said ISA Research Agronomist Jennifer Jones.

“The Student Research Poster Competition allows farmers to learn about new and emerging science that could influence their operations in the future. It’s a win-win for all involved.”

The Illinois Soybean Association invites interested graduate students to participate in future Soybean Summit events.

For more information about the Student Research Poster Competition and to explore the full range of soybean research conducted with ISA support, visit

AgriNews Staff

AgriNews Staff

The Illinois AgriNews and Indiana AgriNews staff is in the field each week, covering topics that affect local farm families and their businesses. We give readers information they can’t get elsewhere to help them make better farming decisions.