What are our former graduate students and postdocs doing now?

Brent Hulke focused on improving winter hardiness in perennial ryegrass. He finished his Ph.D. in 2007 and then joined the USDA-ARS to lead their sunflower breeding program in Fargo, ND.

Aaron Johnsen conducted research on turf irrigation efficiency for his M.Sc. which he completed in 2008.  He then moved on to work in the turf industry and finally found his way to Land O'Lakes Inc. / Winfield Solutions, where he is currently Director for Regional Sales and Proprietary Products. He is also the founder and owner of Turf Intelligence, LLC.

Matt Clark completed an M.Sc. degree working with prairie junegrass breeding in 2010. He then joined the apple breeding program at the University of Minnesota where he received a Ph.D. and completed a postdoc.  Matt is now an Assistant Professor in Horticultural Science at UMN leading the grape breeding and genetics program.

Matt Cavanaugh evaluated methods for establishing no-mow fine fescues on golf courses for his M.Sc., which he received in 2012. Matt then worked in industry, returned to conduct research in our program, and in 2015 became the Assistant Superintendent at Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove, MN.

Kari Hugie conducted applied research on low-input turfgrass species and marketing research on consumer attitudes about low-input turfgrass traits. She completed her M.Sc. in 2013 and then joined the cotton breeding program at Texas A&M. Kari was awarded her Ph.D. in 2015 and is now a researcher with Syngenta where she works in breeding and genetics.

Eric Koeritz received his Ph.D. in plant breeding and molecular genetics in 2014. His Ph.D. work focused on both best management practices for perennial ryegrass seed production and using metabolomics to improve rust resistance in perennial ryegrass.  Eric is currently is working on corn breeding and genetics with Syngenta.

Josh Friell led our first major research efforts on roadside turfgrasses beginning in 2010. His Ph.D. work resulted in a number of publications and helped us continue to lead in the area of roadside turfgrass research. He successfully defended his Ph.D. in 2014 and now works at The Toro Company, where he works with the Center for Advanced Turf Technology group.

Lindsey Hoffman joined our group for a post-doc from 2013-2014 to work on metabolomics-assisted breeding of perennial ryegrass. She is now a Research Associate in Turf Physiology at UMASS.

Ian Lane was co-advised by Dr. Watkins and Dr. Marla Spivak in Entomology. His work on bee lawns has received much attention and interest. After completing his M.Sc. in spring 2016, Ian stayed in Entomology to pursue a Ph.D. focusing on pollinator habitat conservation.

Maggie Reiter was part of our program beginning as an undergraduate and through her M.Sc. degree. Her master’s thesis examined selection and management of fine fescues for golf course fairways. She completed her M.Sc. degree in May 2016 and is now the Turfgrass Extension Educator with University of Minnesota Extension.

James Wolfin completed an M.Sc. degree in Entomology conducting a project on bee lawns that was a collaboration between the UMN Bee Lab and UMN Turfgrass Science. James now works at Metro Blooms in Minneapolis, MN as a Sustainable Landcare Manager. He regularly conducts bee lawn workshops and webinars.

Jon Trappe worked with our group as a postdoc in 2016-2019.  His primary efforts involved several projects on roadside turfgrass research funded by MnDOT. He also was involved with research on allelopathy in fine fescues and played an important role in homeowner outreach. He is now a Technical Agronomist at Midwestern BioAg.

Dan Sandor served as a postdoc from 2018-2019 and conducted our water-conservation research projects with the Metropolitan Council, and developed the irrigation technologies research project seen at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Dr. Sandor also led numerous outreach-education events throughout the Twin Cities Metropolitan area, including the lawn-education exhibit at Minnesota State Fair. He is now an assistant professor of Turfgrass Science at Virginia Tech.

Chase Straw was a postdoc here from 2018-2019. His research focused on the spatial and temporal variability within turfgrass systems to develop practical strategies for reducing management inputs and improving the overall user experience. He is now an Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Management and Physiology at Texas A&M University.

Yinjie Qiu completed his Ph.D. in plant breeding and molecular genetics in 2020. His Ph.D. work focused on using different high throughput sequencing methods, such as next-generation sequencing, PacBio isoform sequencing to answer genomics questions in low-input turfgrass fine fescues. He is now a postdoc at the Maize Translational Genomics lab at the University of Minnesota.  

Garett Heineck completed his M.Sc. in Applied Plant Science with an emphasis on plant breeding and genetics in 2016 and his Ph.D. in 2019. His work throughout both degrees focused on improving seed production systems for perennial ryegrass via breeding, agronomics and fungal endophyte enhancement. After graduating, Garett continued to work as a postdoc until 2020. He now is a postdoc working for Washington State University with a research focus on lentil pathology and forage seed production.