Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Welcome Carolyn! Agroecology Postdoc

The UNH Agroecology Lab welcomes a new member to our group: Carolyn Lowry. Carolyn is here on a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and will be studying how soil spatial heterogeneity and root foraging influence crop and weed competition.

Carolyn is originally from coastal New Jersey, and received her Bachelor’s in Biology at the University of Delaware, where her experience with undergraduate research sparked her desire to become a scientist. Carolyn’s interest in agroecology began while working at the Small Farm Unit at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) in North Carolina. The Small Farm Unit is an educational demonstration farm, where students, farmers, educators, and others can come to learn about sustainable agriculture principles and practices. At CEFS, Carolyn gained experience with common production practices used on an organic diverse vegetable farm, but became especially interested in reduced tillage practices, and developing strategies to make reduced tillage work for organic production systems.

Carolyn received her PhD in 2015 working with Daniel Brainard in the Sustainable Vegetable Systems Lab at Michigan State University. As part of the Brainard Lab, Carolyn’s research focused on strip-tillage, which is when tillage is confined to a narrow strip directly in-line with the future crop row, and the between row area is left undisturbed. Strip-tillage retains some of the benefits of no-till (e.g. improved infiltration and water holding capacity) while providing some of the benefits of tillage to the crop row (e.g. improved seedbed and incorporation of plant residues). Carolyn’s research examined strip-tillage effects on nitrogen cycling and weed competition in a cover-crop based organic system. Additionally, Carolyn examined using strip-intercropping of cereal rye and hairy vetch cover crops to improve N availability and crop productivity within an organic strip-tilled vegetable system.

When Carolyn is not working she enjoys being outdoors... including hiking, skiing, and running. However, Carolyn is most interested in traveling and experiencing new cultures and places. Her interest in travel has taken her on many unique and exciting adventures, from learning to scuba dive in the Galapagos Islands, all the way to standing on the very bridge where Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo (the shot heard round the world that started the First World War). More recently, Carolyn spent six months conducting research in the state of Bihar, located in Eastern India on a USAID Borlaug Fellowship.

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