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Lauren Anderson started working with the Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP) in Fall 2023 through the TST BOCES New Visions program. Anderson is now continuing with NMSP as a summer intern, working on a soil health project. Read on to learn more about the New Visions program and Anderson’s experience with NMSP.

The TST BOCES New Visions program is focused on exposing high school students to more in-depth experiences in engineering, medical sciences, or applied life sciences. As part of this program, Lauren Anderson of Dryden High School has been working with the Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP) since Fall 2023 under Quirine Ketterings, professor of nutrient management and leader of NMSP in Cornell CALS’ department of Animal Science

“I joined New Visions Life Sciences to explore what field within life sciences I wanted to pursue in college,” said Anderson. “I chose to apply to the NMSP lab because it aligned with my interests in environmental health and was recommended highly by my New Visions teacher, Ms. Maureen Zorn.”

Anderson worked closely with Gurpreet Kaur, PhD student in NMSP, on the ‘Soil health assessments of yield stability zones’ project. This project focuses on understanding and characterizing high and low yielding areas, as well as stable and highly variable areas in corn fields on the basis of soil health indicators. 

“Understanding soil health indicators in different zones in a field can help farmers make nutrient management decisions which promote environmental and economic sustainability,” said Kaur. “This project not only provides insight into soil heath but also its relation to yield stability and climate resiliency.”

In 2023, soil samples were collected from two dairy farms in New York with 3 fields each, to account for in-field, within-fields, and on-farms variability in the soil health parameters. Anderson helped process these samples and perform laboratory analyses, including determination of microbial biomass, soil moisture, and carbon. 

Anderson got the opportunity to present a portion of her findings at the 18th Annual Junior Researcher Symposium of the New Visions in Life Sciences program on May 16th. 

“Lauren did an excellent job with her oral presentation and the poster she made,” Ketterings said. “She was confident, clearly explained to the audience what her project was about and what her findings were, and her response to audience questions showed she knew what she was talking about.”

“Working with Lauren was amazing!” said Kaur. “She had the curiosity, discipline, communication and passion to understand what was happening and help with everything that she could. It was great to see her efforts come together for her presentation and poster. Seeing her present the work very clearly and answer all the questions she was given made me feel very proud and happy for her.”

Anderson graduated from Dryden High School this spring. She returned to work with NMSP this summer, joining for field work and to learn additional laboratory methods. The summer internship will give her a chance to visit farms, participate in extension field days and learn more about New York agriculture.

“Since soil samples are collected at specific points during the growing season, I wasn’t able to participate in field work during my New Visions internship, so I’m looking forward to doing field work and collecting soil samples this summer,” said Anderson.

This fall, Anderson will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology. She stated that she is hopefully going to double major in Management Information Systems (MIS) and Museum Studies. “While working with the NMSP I had a change of heart to pursue Management Information Systems,” said Anderson. “My current aspiration is to become a digital archivist, working to preserve history and make it accessible to the public through digitization.”

“Leading up to the research symposium, experiencing all the data coming together and seeing visible results has made me reconsider studying Environmental Health,” said Anderson. “Being able to participate in field work and broaden my experience with the NMSP this summer will aid in my decision about what to study.”

If you’re interested in reading more about NMSP interns and projects, visit the NMSP website. If you’d like to receive updates about the program, sign up for our newsletter, The Spear.

Madeline Hanscom is a writer for the Nutrient Management Spear Program.

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