Students

Agroecology students come from a variety of backgrounds and engage in a range of different projects on campus.

students

Brooke Bembeneck

Research Track with Randy Jackson x '20

After recently graduating from UW-Stevens Point with a Soil and Land Management B.S., Brooke is focusing her graduate work on agricultural ecosystems. Specifically, she will work with the Jackson lab to assess the effects of different livestock grazing practices on soil and water quality.

Corey Blant

Research Track with Michael Bell x '20

After many years working in urban agriculture and youth development, Corey is interested in the intersection between land / resource stewardship and community ownership of agroecological projects. His work at UW-Madison is focused on developing methodologies to engage communities and diverse groups of stakeholders in dialogues about land stewardship and water quality.

Stefania Cartoni

Research Track with Valentin Picasso x '20

Stefania has dedicated her time to working with communities, farmers and consultant agencies in her home country of Chile, contributing to the improvement of people’s lives and our relationship to our environment. At UW-Madison, she will be studying the perennial dual-purpose crop kernza.

Ambar Carvallo Lopez

Research Track with Julie Dawson x ‘21

Ambar is interested in incorporating agroecological principles into the development of more climate resilient crops. Her work focuses on breeding for organic production through participatory research involving farmers and chefs of Wisconsin, but with the hope of taking this knowledge back to her home in Chile.

Margaux Crider

Research Track with Michael Bell x '21

Margaux is primarily interested in the intersection of agriculture, religion, and the environment. She  gets excited about ecofeminism, community gardening, and oral food histories. And, she thinks that mushrooms just might save the world.

Hannah Francis

Research Track with Matt Ruark x '21

Hannah is interested in nutrient cycling in agroecosystems, and particularly how management practices affect soil chemistry. She is currently working in Dr. Matt Ruark’s lab in the Department of Soil Science to evaluate nitrogen credits from red clover, a leguminous cover crop.

Nicholas Gallagher

Research Track with Paul Mitchell x '19

Nicholas is interested in on-farm software use and its potential to improve food system sustainability. His studies are focused on using analytical methods of optimization to reduce negative environmental externalities while maintaining farmer profitability. With his advisor, Prof. Paul Mitchell, he researches using econometric methods to develop economic and environmental rationale for farm management decisions.

Karen Hill

Research Track with Julie Dawson x '20

Karen has recently worked in large scale seed production, small scale dairy and vegetable operations, and food safety in nonprofits. In the future she hopes to increase the amount of food produced by smaller farms in local supply chains through agricultural education, as well as network building among farmers, chefs, institutions, and educators.

Brittany Isidore

Research Track with Michael Bell and Dick Cates x '19

Brittany is interested in helping developing countries build sustainable agriculture practices and helping communicate research to farmers. Her research will be focusing on organic pasture management and soil health and utilizing the socio-ecological perspective when partnering in agroecology projects abroad.

Ben Iuliano

Research Track with Claudio Gratton x '21

Ben’s interests lie at the intersection of insect conservation, agricultural landscapes, and political ecology. He studies biological pest control by lady beetles in Southern Wisconsin, seeking to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of this important ecosystem service.

Dana Johnson

Research Track with Thea Whitman x '21

Dana is interested in the impact of natural weather events and land management on soil microbial function. She currently researches the effect of forest fires on soil microbes and plans to expand this work to include Wisconsin soils and winter weather events.

Laura Judge

Research Track with Mark Renz x '19

Fostering the farm as a productive, low-input ecosystem interests Laura, especially through the use of rotational grazing. Working under Dr. Mark Renz, she monitors change in pasture plant communities over time to explore cattle as a tool in the restoration of Wisconsin’s public grasslands.

Alex Kazer

Research Track with Adena Rissman x '19

Alex is curious about the intersections between agriculture, conservation, and public policy. His research explores the social and ecological outcomes of private land conservation.

Kelsey Kruger

Research Track with Matt Ruark and Anita Thompson x '21

Kelsey is interested in how farm management decisions impact soil quality. Her research focuses on the on-farm factors influencing edge-of-field nutrient runoff in the Great Lakes region.

Erin Lowe

Research Track with Claudio Gratton x '19

Erin is interested in applying her knowledge of pollination ecology to develop pollinator-friendly farming practices. She is working with Dr. Gratton, Dr. Groves, and Wisconsin vegetable growers to study crop pollination by wild bees.

Marnie Macgregor

Research Track with Michael Bell x '21

Marnie approaches agroecology as someone who grew up on a fruit farm in Minnesota and has spent seven seasons on vegetable, fruit, and livestock farms in New York state. She is interested in the role agriculture plays in rural communities, the relationship between sustainable and conventional agricultural practices, and the role socio-cultural identity plays in farmers’ decision making. Marnie’s graduate research will focus on why farmers decide to transition their farming practices. Marnie is also extremely passionate about apples, and her favorite variety is Keepsake.

Cathleen McCluskey

Research Track with Bill Tracy x '19

Cathleen is interested in developing tools to advance farmer-centric seed systems that are democratic, economically and environmentally sound, and driven by public plant breeding. Her focus includes public policy, intellectual property rights, industry concentration, and public plant breeding systems.

Hanna McIntosh

Research Track with Christelle Guedot and Amaya Atucha x '20

Hanna is interested in facilitating sustainable management of fruit crop pests. She is co-advised with Dr. Christelle Guedot in Entomology and Dr. Amaya Atucha in Horticulture. Her research focuses on using mulches to control spotted wing drosophila fruit flies in raspberry. She is also interested in how implementation of mulches affects other agroecological factors, such as plant growth, yield, plant disease, and soils.

Patrick Merscher

Research Track with Julie Dawson x '20

Patrick is interested in vegetable variety trials and plant breeding for organic farming systems while balancing grower needs and consumer expectations of food quality (ie: flavor and nutrition). His research evaluates modern and heirloom tomato varieties in different management systems and the potential effects on farmers and eaters alike.

Korede Olugbenle

Research Track with Valentin Picasso x '21

Recently graduating from Iowa State University with an Agronomy B.S., Korede is focusing his graduate work on the perennial dual-purpose crop, Kernza. His main goal is to find the the optimal planting dates of the crop in Wisconsin.

Rachel Schindler

Public Practice Track x '20

Rachel is interested in beginner-farmer training, education, and resource access with particular focus on how to increase equity and community within these systems. She has worked for a variety of non-profits and aims to bring social justice to the front in her Agroecology work.

Miranda Sikora

Research Track with Erin Silva and Matt Ruark x '20

Miranda is interested in finding and developing management practices that balance profitability and ecosystem services in food production systems. Her research focuses on how management in organic grain production affects soil health.

Kase Wheatley

Research Track with Michael Bell x '21

Kase is passionate about agrarian and economic democracy. He is interested in commoning the commonwealth and is curious about the role of feminism, anti-colonial politics, and the sacred within agroecology. Under the guidance of Dr. Michael Bell, Kase is working to co-create popular agroecological education in support of thriving rural communities.