Meet the rising stars in this year's ASTA Student Connections program!

Student Connections is a program hosted by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the Seed Science Foundation (SSF) through ASTA's Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) Committee. This program provides networking opportunities with industry mentors, executives, and thought leaders for university students who are interested in pursuing careers in the seed industry. Selected students will have the opportunity to engage in educational opportunities before and during the Policy & Leadership Development Conference, and will leave as strong collegiate ambassadors for the seed industry on their respective campuses. These students will be participating virtually, so online connections with them are encouraged!

Did You Know? You can visit the Registrant Directory to reach these and other conference registrants if you'd like to make further connections or set up a meeting (you must be a registrant to access).

Sandeep Chapagain, Ph.D. candidate
Lousiana State University

Brooke Davis, Plant Science
University of Mount Olive

Marlie Lukach, Ph.D. candidate
Cornell University

Lance Merrick, Ph.D. candidate
Washington State University

Amanda Wilson, Plant Science
Cornell University

Jane Zuroweste, Agribusiness Management
University of Missouri

Sandeep is a PhD candidate at Louisiana State University, School of Plant, Environmental, and Soil Sciences. His research is in the rice breeding program studying abiotic stress tolerance. His goal is to develop climate resilient crop varieties for future food security along with understanding molecular mechanisms of stress physiology and adaptation mechanisms by plants.

Brooke is a senior studying plant science at the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina. This summer she will be interning with Corteva Agriscience in Kinston, NC working with plant breeders who will show her how to collect and analyze field research data. During her internship, she will also be working on a research product with corn. She is an avid outdoorsman who loves to be outside whether it’s hunting, fishing or hiking. Establishing wildlife food plots is what inspired her to peruse a career in the seed industry. She wants to better the environment for not only humans, but also wildlife. She best believes that she can make progress in this endeavor by joining the seed industry. 

Marlie is a Ph.D. Student at Cornell University in the Plant Breeding and Genetics program. Her research focuses on squash nutritional composition, high-throughput phenotyping, and improving 
accessibility of specialty gourds in the northeast. She decided to pursue a career in the seed industry to help close the gap between consumers and the production of their food, inspired by her research advisor's work plant breeding work with New York City chefs. When Marlie is not working with plants, she rides her two horses, Montoya and Athena, and cares for her chickens.

Lance is a Ph.D. candidate at Washington State University in the winter wheat breeding and genetics program. His research is in developing genomic selection models and genome-wide association studies for complex traits in a large winter wheat breeding program. In the summer, I enjoy fishing and hiking, and snowboarding in the winter. I travel and explore the Washington and Idaho area I reside in. I have spent my entire life in agriculture, from growing up on a family farm in South Dakota to studying for my master’s and Ph.D. This devotion to agriculture is what led me to see firsthand the challenges we face and inspired me to pursue a career in agriculture.

Amanda is an undergraduate plant sciences major at Cornell University. She grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by thousands of acres of farmland and having this first-hand look at the impact of agricultural crop production is what inspired her to pursue a career in the seed industry. She is particularly interested in the intersection of plant breeding and plant pathology. After she graduates in 2023, she hopes to attend graduate school and develop additional skills related to crop improvement and disease management. She will be a research intern this summer with Corteva Agriscience in Windfall, IN assisting with Corteva’s wheat breeding program. She looks forward to learning more about the seed industry through the ASTA Student Connections program!

Jane is a senior at the University of Missouri- Columbia majoring in Agribusiness Management with a minor in Plant Science. She will graduate in May 2022.  This summer Jane will be working with Corteva Agriscience as a Commercial Sales Intern in Kansas City, Missouri and enjoys hiking, fishing, hunting and yoga in her free time. Her good friend, Jessica Claborn, inspired her to pursue a career in the seed industry. She has always been an amazing mentor throughout Jane’s college career and someone she inspire to be like one day.