USU Plant Science Students Earn National Recognition

Utah State University’s Department of Plants, Soils and Climate is pleased to announce that undergraduate researcher Julie Hershkowitz has been honored with an American Society of Horticulture Science Scholarship Award.

The national award, given to only two individuals each year, was presented at the ASHS Annual Conference, held online this year. Hershkowitz, a senior studying plant science with a minor in biology, wrote a personal statement and gathered three letters of recommendation from professors to apply for this award.

“I’ve never received a scholarship before,” Hershkowitz said. “It’s pretty amazing. I need to thank Doctors Rupp, Stott and Johnson for writing good letters that focused on me as an individual. They each did a great job, and of course Youping (Sun), who introduced me to ASHS last year.”

Youping Sun, assistant professor of landscape horticulture, has worked with Hershkowitz since 2018.

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“With 16 credit hours of course work, she was still able to join me in greenhouse research projects,” Sun said of Hershkowitz. “These experiences helped her to build technical skills in horticulture research. She also demonstrated her passion and dedication to horticulture. I am deeply impressed with her time management skills.”

This isn’t the first time Hershkowitz has won an ASHS award. In 2019 she placed second in both the individual and team Plant Identification Competitions and presented a research paper on “Salt Tolerance and Five Spirea Species” at that year’s conference in Las Vegas. She did not participate in the competition this year because she has been busy with her own research this summer focused on the salinity tolerance of various hemp cultivars, a potentially valuable crop for Utah growers. She did present a paper at the virtual meeting, “Salinity Tolerance of Six Ornamental Grass Species” resulting from ongoing research with Sun.

In addition, PSC student researchers Tegan Durfee and Ji-Jhong Chen placed in their respective poster presentation competitions at the conference. Durfee, who works with Professor Brent Black, presented “Improving Stock (Matthiola incana) Cut Flower Production in the Intermountain West” and took third place in the Undergraduate Student Poster Competition.

Chen received third place honors in the Graduate Student Poster Competition for “Using NDVI Sensors to Determine the Chlorophyll Content of Shepherdia xutahensis ‘Torrey’” based on work for the master’s degree he recently completed in Sun’s lab. Chen begins work on a doctoral degree at USU this fall with plant science Professor Kelly Kopp. 

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