Student conducts research for Pioneer Hi-Bred

If Iowans are believed to be experts on corn, Melinda Jansen of rural Newton is working to fit the stereotype. Jansen, a Northwestern College senior, is researching the production of corn at Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. in Johnston, Iowa.

Jansen, a biology-health professions major, was one of 28 students selected for a seven-month internship, which began in May. She worked in field maintenance of research plots through most of the summer and is now studying Anthracnose, a maize disease. After inoculating crops with Anthracnose, she will observe the effects of the disease on yield production during this fall’s harvest.

Jansen says the highlights of her internship have been learning more about plants and observing the processes that hybrids go through before commercialization. She also gained experience in administration as she was partially responsible for managing part-time personnel.

Last summer Jansen participated in the Research for Undergraduates program at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, where she researched the effects of radiation on chemicals’ molecular structure. Jansen says she appreciates the opportunity to complement that experience with her current internship.

“This job at Pioneer has given me the opportunity to learn more about what it is like to work in industry and some of the options that I can think about after graduation,” she says.

Jansen credits her education for helping her to be well-prepared for the work she’s doing. “The science at Northwestern has given me a conceptual understanding to build on the new things I have learned at Pioneer,” she says.