University of Georgia Bioinformatics doctoral student, Corey Schultz has focused on finding way to improve yields by understanding how corn interacts with beneficial microbes. Through the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Research Ambassador program, Corey has recognized farmers’ concerns and learned how to proactively communicate research results.
With a saturated market of beneficial-bacteria products, Corey began to realize that different corn lines reacted differently to the same microbes. This concerning realization led Corey to study both how microbes affect corn and how corn affects microbes.
“I used three different growth-promoting microbes on a variety of genetically-diverse corn lines in the greenhouse. I found variable growth promotion among the different types of corn, with some corn lines showing improved growth above ground, some below ground, and some not responding at all,” shares Corey, concluding that the best way to tailor microbes depends on the corn variety.
To understand corn’s influence on microbes, Corey designed a cocktail that increases potassium intake. The purpose of this solution was to identify the microbes corn inherited during stressing times. The data from this experiment helped Corey create a more beneficial environment for corn by first understanding microbial needs.
As a part of the Research Ambassador program, Corey was able to learn more about the impact his research will have on growers. The opportunities that came with being a part of the program has opened his eyes to the diversity of the corn industry.
“As someone with no prior agriculture background, learning about the life of farmers, economics, and politics of corn has been one of the most valuable experiences of my PhD. Understanding the impact of my work and the field outside of academia has been important,” notes Corey. “And I just plain had fun meeting with vendors, producers, and the wonderful people at NCGA.”
Corey began his studies at Clemson University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Genetics and a minor in Biology. Throughout his schooling, Corey has developed a passion for scientific communication and diversity awareness. He serves as an officer to the Athens Science Café, which brings together his two passions.
The NCGA Research Ambassador program was developed by the Sustainable Ag Research Action Team and supported by Valent. The program is designed to create a network of young leaders passionate about the agriculture industry. Participants are given the opportunity to interact with corn growers, participate in Capitol Hill visits, attend NCGA meetings and connect their lab to the farm.