North America, Organizations in the News, Research, Sustainability

Promising WSU research student receives $10,000 academic scholarship from Potato LEAF

The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) is delighted to announce Jacob Meeuwsen, a Ph.D. student at Washington State University (WSU), as the recipient of the organization’s 2023-24 Academic Scholarship.

The scholarship, worth $10,000, is granted annually to a graduate student with a strong focus on research that can directly benefit the U.S. potato industry.

Innovative Irrigation Methods and Technology Development

Jacob Meeuwsen, a Kennewick, Washington native, is dedicated to enhancing intelligent potato water-use efficiency, land-use management practices, and reducing water loss through evaporation and runoff. His current work involves optimizing predictive evapotranspiration (ET) and recommended irrigation levels concerning changes in plant spatial arrangement and population, aiming to mitigate heat and water stress.

In addition to his research, Meeuwsen is testing a novel irrigation method to maximize water use efficiency in potatoes. He also plans to create a predictive ET and irrigation app for potatoes, with support from Washington State University’s Information Technology Services and AgWeatherNet teams.

Upon receiving the Potato LEAF Scholarship, Meeuwsen expressed his gratitude, emphasizing the significance of the scholarship in recognizing his research’s value to the potato industry. He expressed his commitment to using this opportunity to devise innovative ways to make the potato industry more sustainable and efficient.

Potato LEAF’s Dedication to the Future of the Potato Industry

The chair of the Potato LEAF foundation, Gregg Halverson, emphasized the organization’s dedication to securing the long-term health of the U.S. potato industry by investing in emerging leaders like Jacob Meeuwsen. The foundation is excited to support Meeuwsen in his educational journey and his research aimed at advancing the potato industry towards a more sustainable future.

Before pursuing his Ph.D. at WSU, Meeuwsen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in crop science from the University of Idaho in May 2022. He gained practical experience as a pulse breeder intern and greenhouse manager at ProGene Plant Research and as a general assistant conducting experimental pesticide field trials at Syngenta Crop Protection in Hermiston, Oregon.

Mentorship and Public Outreach

Jacob Meeuwsen initiated his Ph.D. research at WSU under the guidance of Dr. Mark J. Pavek, a Professor and State Potato Extension Specialist. He actively participates in the Potato Association of America and serves as Secretary of the Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program, where he will assume the role of Committee Chair in 2025. Currently, he assists Dr. Pavek and the WSU Potato Research Group with public outreach and variety development.

Dr. Mark J. Pavek, Meeuwsen’s advisor, praised his exceptional qualities as an intelligent team player with a strong work ethic, consistently surpassing expectations. Dr. Pavek’s recommendation underscores Meeuwsen’s potential and dedication to the field.

Vision for the Future

Jacob Meeuwsen’s research aims to benefit potato growers by optimizing plant water use efficiency and maximizing production and economic returns, particularly during extreme heat and water stress events. He believes that by improving irrigation and water-use efficiency, the positive impacts will extend beyond the fields and into American households, preserving vital resources and livelihoods.

Source: Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF)
Photo: Jacob Meeuwsen

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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