Shelby Young heading to Australia as new Fulbright Student Researcher
By: Amanda Bowman
A talented Texas Tech Department of Plant and Soil Science graduate student is heading down under this summer as a Fulbright Student Researcher. Shelby Young will spend 10 months in Australia seeking the ideal growing environment to try to prevent a common cotton disease known as Verticillium wilt.
Verticillium wilt reduces water and nutrient flow and causes the crop to turn yellow or white and the leaves or stems to wilt. It's caused by the soil borne fungal pathogen Verticillium dahliae.
Young, who graduates in August with her master's degree in plant and soil science, said her master's thesis is working on how to detect Verticillium dahliae and how to best detect how much is in the soil.
With so many differences between Lubbock and Australia, one similarity is the climate. "It's hotter and maybe dryer sometimes, but cotton production is really big in Australia," Young said. "I was surprised."
Young applied to the Fulbright Program in hopes of continuing her cotton disease research in Australia. "I proposed a field trial looking at Verticillium wilt, which is a disease we have here in Lubbock as well as throughout our cotton growing areas in the United States," she said. "I'll look at Verticillium wilt and see what happens with different nutrient levels of nitrogen, potassium and also different irrigation levels."
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is one part of the Fulbright Program. It was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals.
"One of the really cool things about the Fulbright is you have to have a community engagement plan, and that's almost as big of a part of the program as the research is," Young said. "Since my university affiliate is the Western Sydney University, which is located in a suburb of Sydney, I've been looking and they have women in agriculture groups, opportunities to mentor high school kids, and things like that.
Young believes the give and take of information is what makes the Fulbright Program special.
"One of the main initiatives of the Fulbright Program, when it was created, was to exchange information both ways," she said. "So, the affiliates in Australia are getting a Fulbright Scholar over there, but Texas Tech is getting that Fulbright Scholar back. The exchange of information is going to be really exciting, because I know I'm going to learn so much outside of what I listed on my research proposal. I know it's going to be better than I expect."
Separately, Young said she recently was accepted to the master's program in agribusiness through Texas Tech's Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Young will have to complete an internship and a research project for the agribusiness master's program. She will use her time in Australia to fulfill those requirements.
"With the internship and research project requirement for the agribusiness master's degree aligning with the timing of my Fulbright program, I will be able to get credit toward my degree and explore financial and economic aspects of my research alongside the science," Young said.
CONTACT: Eric Hequet, Department Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2838 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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