Katie De Groot is a Bachelor of Science student, majoring in Ecology and Environmental Biology. To conclude our series, the Newsroom asked Katie about doing undergraduate research at TRU.
TRU: Your project is titled, “Can companion planting oats and peas increase crop yields during periods of elevated temperature?”. Boil it down for us.
KD: I want to see if growing oats and peas together will result in increased yields at normal growing temperatures (as has been previously observed). I then will raise the growing temperatures to see if, by growing oats and peas together, the yields of the companion-planted oats and peas will be greater than oats or peas grown separately in monoculture. If yields remain higher when oats and peas are grown together (as compared to when they are grown apart), then I will be able to suggest in areas where temperatures are rising (eg due to climate change), that to get the most out of your oats and pea crops you should grow them together.
TRU: What attracted you to the research?
KD: I am thinking of continuing with my schooling and studying Agroecology, so this project is a perfect opportunity for me to give research a trial run before I commit myself to a masters or PhD.
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TRU: You received an Undergraduate Research Experience Award Program (UREAP) grant. How did you use it?
KD: I will be primarily using the grant to buy soil, seed and potting supplies.
TRU: Are you are doing research this summer? Where?
KD: I will be doing this research in the fall at the Research Greenhouse above Trades and Technology. This summer I worked on another project for Lauchlan Fraser, my supervisor, also in Agroecology, taking soil cores throughout BC to see what effect cattle grazing has upon soil organic carbon, an extremely important but often unmeasured soil nutrient.
TRU: Will your project lead to a presentation or publishing opportunity?
KD: I don’t know for sure, but if I have significant findings I would like to submit a paper detailing them.
TRU: What do you love about research? What don’t you like about it?
KD: I love growing plants so I will really enjoy being able to continue growing plants into the fall and wintertime. I think what I’ll not like about the research is picking all the plant roots out of 180 cubic feet of soil.
TRU: Who in your field do you admire and why?
KD: I very much admire the hard work that farmers put into their fields and crops every year, hoping that the weather will turn out and pests won’t be too much of a problem. They are ever optimistic and willing to try again each year—and we couldn’t live without them.
TRU: What impact do you hope your research will have?
KD: I hope my research will help reduce the impact of climate change upon crop yields, as food and farmers are an integral part of our society and life.
Read more from our Q & A series on undergraduate student researchers.