Conrad Brendel, graduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering, is one of 10 recipients chosen to receive a $25,000 scholarship from Monsanto Company.
The scholarship is part of the Monsanto Graduate Student Scholarship program, a three-year program that was started last year by Monsanto, a sustainable agriculture company. The program was created to bring awareness of opportunities in agriculture to students who are majoring in STEM, said Daphne Dorsey, corporate media relations manager at Monsanto.
"We award these scholarships to high-achieving minority students who are either pursuing a master's degree or Ph.D. degree, and are either studying STEM related courses or pursuing a career in agriculture," Dorsey said.
The scholarship program awarded $250,000 in scholarships to 10 master's students this fall, and $200,000 in scholarships to four doctoral candidates, according to a press release from Monsanto.
“At Monsanto, we are looking to create an innovative workforce. There are many students out there who may not even consider pursuing a career in agriculture," Dorsey said. "By providing these scholarships, we are basically letting students know that if you are someone who is majoring in STEM, that there is a place for you within agriculture."
Brendel learned about the scholarship in an email from the agricultural and biosystems engineering program that he is currently pursuing his master's degree in.
While pursuing his master's, Brendel is also teaching ABE 160 at Iowa State, and is involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities.
He has been an officer for the Cycling Club for six years and has been a part of the Sailing & Windsports Club and Engineers for a Sustainable World. He was president of all of these clubs at one point and said that his involvement with the Cycling Club has been his favorite so far.
He also enjoys his job as a Special Olympics coach.
After obtaining his master's degree, Brendel plans on pursuing his Ph.D. and hopes to then go into a career in teaching.
He discovered his passion for agricultural and biosystems engineering through an honors research program that he participated in during freshman year at Iowa State.
He began the program researching with Michelle Soupir, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, who is now his major professor. He has been working in the lab ever since and is currently doing water quality research.
His master's thesis project, which he is currently working on, is on the water quality of Blackhawk Lake near Carol, Iowa. Specifically, he is researching the problems that the lake has with algae and turbidity, caused by nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous coming into the water.
"For my project, I’m looking at phosphorus leaving the soil and the environment and then going into the water and lake," Brendel said. "Specifically, I’m looking at phosphorus through tile drainage.”
When he's not researching or working, Brendel enjoys activities such as mountain biking, snowboarding and skiing.
His advice to students who are pursuing a degree in a similar field?
“Spend time on classwork, but try to get involved with other stuff too," he said.
He also stressed the importance of time management and attributes that skill as a key factor in his success.
Brendel said being awarded this scholarship will help him pay tuition so he has more time for teaching and research rather than stressing about money for school.