Amanda graduated December 2021! Education Ph.D. Agricultural Sciences, Southern Illinois University,2021 M.S. Horticulture-Viticulture, Southern Illinois University, 2018 B.S. (Summa Cum Laude) Plant and Soil Science-Horticulture, Southern Illinois University, 2015
Amanda grew up on a farm in central Illinois, primarily managing beef cattle. During her B.S. she focused on fruit and vegetable growing, specializing in viticulture. Throughout her B.S. she helped design landscaping and build landscaping on campus, build a “green-wall”, conduct research on a green-roof, and volunteered at the SIU greenhouse weekly. She also received an undergraduate research grant to independently research cover-crops in tomato production and worked in a nematology research lab for 3 years.
During her M.S. at SIU, Amanda researched vineyard soil health through novel groundcover systems in Southern Illinois. The work was aimed at improving grape-vine yield, but also at reducing erosion, improving water infiltration, and improving the health of the soil ecosystem using cover crops and or alterative forms of cover such as cellar waste. This is of importance due to the slopes and bare soil vineyards are commonly planted on. During this time she also was the TA for the Intro to Soil Science course, teaching every semester, and helped teach the wine tasting course in addition to frequently lecturing in fruit production courses.
For her PhD, Amanda is focusing on soil health and the benefits long-term no-till farming can bring to the soil’s physical, chemical, and biological properties. From aggregation to nematodes and earthworms, after 50 years of no-till in a traditional crop-row rotation, Amanda has been given the opportunity to capture what has happened to “soil health” over time, none of which could be obtainable without the late Dr. Kapusta beginning this study in 1970.