SSC Student Worker Named Udall Scholar

AMES, Ia. –  A student well-known at the Iowa State University (ISU) Seed Science Center (SSC) has been awarded a prestigious Udall Scholarship.   Nolan Monaghan has worked in the Seed Lab Dividing Room conducting purity analyses on seed samples for the past two semesters.

“His willingness to learn and eagerness to put in his hours make him an excellent employee,” said Jessica Blake, Nolan’s supervisor.  “But, his attention to detail and inquisitiveness have made him a valuable member of our student team.”

Earlier this year, Nolan was also awarded the 2021 Lisa Shepherd-Jenkins Memorial Scholarship by the SSC.   This scholarship honors Shepherd Jenkins, who served as Seed Health Testing Coordinator for the Seed Science Center and as Director of the Administrative Unit of the National Seed Health System.  Monaghan was also awarded the 2019 David Lambert “Hunger Fighter” Scholarship from the SSC.   Lambert served as a Distinguished Fellow at the ISU SSC.  He was recognized internationally as an expert in global food security, and he was a passionate advocate of engaging youth in the fight against world hunger.

Nolan Monaghan aspires to transform agricultural practices “to be a force for ecological good.” He says he is very interested in how the seed system can be optimized to achieve goals related to global food security, sustainability, and agroecology

The commitment to sustainable agriculture started young, as Monaghan and his brother transformed their small pig-breeding operation for 4-H through their construction of a hydroponic fodder system that grew feed daily at a fraction of the water, land, and energy inputs of traditional systems.

Monaghan, junior in horticulture and global resource systems from Manchester, Iowa, is one of 55 students from 42 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected for the Udall Scholarship. The Udall Foundation awards scholarships for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to the environment or Native American nations.

This is the fourth year in a row that an ISU student has been named a Udall Scholar. Monaghan is Iowa State’s 14th Udall Scholar since the award began in 1997. Iowa State had three additional nominees for the Udall Scholarship this year.

During summer 2019, Monaghan worked as a research assistant in a national genetics and plant physiology lab at China Agricultural University in Beijing. He studied waterlogging in maize, identifying specific genes that improve the plant’s ability to grow under stressful conditions.

After graduating from Iowa State, Monaghan plans to pursue a master’s degree in tropical agriculture at the University of Bonn in Germany, followed by a Ph.D. in sustainable agriculture, agroecology, or environmental studies. He says he plans to pursue a career in the organic or heirloom seed sector, working to improve the availability of varieties of seed to farmers and gardeners. He serves as the National Director of the International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences, is a member of the ISU Horticulture Club and Oxfam, and a volunteer at the Pork Producer Association in his home county.

He hopes to one day work in agriculture nonprofits to advance sustainable agriculture practices and connect with farmers and the public.

Each scholarship provides up to $7,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year. Since the first awards in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded 1,788 scholarships totaling over $9.1 million.

Monaghan being awarded the Lambert Hunger Fighter Scholarship at the World Food Prize in 2019

Left to Right: Ken Quinn, WFP Ambassador; Nolan Monaghan; Manjit Misra, Director of Seed Science Center;

Wendy Wintersteen, President of Iowa State University.