University of Wisconsin–Madison


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


Jamie Bugel

Research Track under Professor Bill Tracy x '18

Jamie wants to increase access to delicious and nutritious food. Her research focuses on finding the factors that influence flavor in heirloom varieties of sweet corn and developing networks between vegetable breeders, farmers, and chefs.

Tracy Campbell

Research Track under Professors Claudio Gratton and Chris Kucharik x '18

Tracy is pursuing a joint degree in Agroecology and Agronomy, with a specific interest in understanding changes in water quality that occur in response to climate change, land use change, and varying land management practices. Tracy is working with Drs. Chris Kucharik and Claudio Gratton and using computer based ecosystem models in order to answer questions regarding possible futures of the Yahara watershed, and the ecosystem services it provides.

Maria Chavez

Research Track under Professor Shawn Steffan x '17

Maria grew up in New Mexico and studied ecology and horticulture at NMSU. She is currently pursuing a joint degree in Agroecology and entomology, focusing her research on the role of dragonflies in cranberry marshes

Keo Corak

Research Track under Assistant Professor Julie Dawson x '18

Kalyn Diederich

Research Track under Assistant Professor Erin Silva x '18

Coming from Fort Collins, Colorado where she recieved her bachelor’s degree in soil and crop science and organic agriculture, Kalyn is thrilled to now be pursuing a master’s degree in Soil Science and Agroecology. Her research focuses on soil health metrics in low and high input cropping systems at the Wisconsin Integrated Croppings Trial.

Alden Dirks

Research Track under Professors Jean-Michel Ane and Randy Jackson x '19

Alden is interested in fungal biology, especially fungi that interact beneficially with crop plants. With Dr. Randy Jackson, Alden is investigating how soil-dwelling, mutualistic fungi in temperate, cool-season grasslands respond to herbivory.

Kiley Friedrich

Research Track under Professor Claudio Gratton x '17

Nick Gallagher

Research Track under Professor Paul Mitchell x '19

Nicholas takes interest in energy use and flow in the food system. He is curious about methods of analyzing the sustainability of agricultural practices as well as characterizing and implementing those practices. His research, with Prof. Paul Mitchell, is focused on compiling and analyzing small plot potato data in an effort to develop a resource for helping potato growers make their farming decisions.

Jacob Grace

Research Track under Professor Mark Renz x '18

Jacob grew up on a farm in northwest Missouri and is now pursuing master’s degrees in both in Agroecology and Life Sciences Communication. His research with Dr. Mark Renz examines the use of rotational grazing to control shrubs on public grasslands.

Brittany Isidore

Research Track under Professor Michael Bell and Dr. 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.

Laura Jessee

Research Track under Professor Julie Dawson x`18

Laura is interested in agriculture education and equitable access to education and other agricultural resources. With Dr. Julie Dawson, she is supporting the process of creating a apprenticeship program for organic farmers in Wisconsin.

Laura Judge

Research Track under Professor 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 under Professor 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.

Marisa Lanker

Research Track under Professors Michael Bell and Valentin Picasso x '18

Marisa’s passion centers on how perennial and polyculture agriculture can empower sustainable livelihoods for small-holder and marginalized farmers, particularly in developing nations. She currently works with professors Valentin Picasso and Mike Bell to research the reality and outlook for farmers of growing the perennial grain, Kernza, in the U.S. Midwest and Uruguay.

Erin Lowe

Research Track under Professor 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.

Cathleen McCluskey

Research Track under Professor 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.

Cherrie Nolden

Research Track under Professor John Harrington x '17

Leah Potter-Weight

Research Track under Professor Michael Bell x '19

After years working on organic farms, Leah now helps build pathways to success for beginning farmers interested in cultivating diverse, perennial systems. Through the Fruit and Nut Compass project, she is publishing a body of resources for such farmers including an economic decision-making tool, publications and videos on challenges and the principles of success, and research articles outlining socioeconomic forces in perennial agriculture.

Jules Reynolds

Research Track under Professor Michael Bell x '18

Jules hopes to support rural farmers in KuManzimdaka, South Africa with natural resource management and agricultural development. Her research investigates the ties between invasive sociopolitical systems and the invasive black wattle tree in the Eastern Cape.

Greg Richardson

Research Track under Assistant Professors Erin Silva and Matt Ruark x '18

Greg is passionate about soil health and opportunities for farmers to gain a competitive advantage by aligning their operations with natural systems. Greg’s research focuses on soil health measurements, biological carbon and nitrogen cycling, and how this relates to tillage, crop rotations and cover crops usage by farms across Wisconsin.