As a college freshman, Hunter Seubert was working toward a degree in aviation when he realized that path wasn’t the correct one for him. He returned home to Blue Springs, Mo., and was soon connected with Colonial Gardens, a community greenhouse and local nursery.
Seubert worked for Kevin Keilig, greenhouse manager at Colonial Gardens, who introduced Seubert to the University of Missouri – and the plant sciences degree program.
“I was really enjoying working at the greenhouse and Kevin mentioned the great plant sciences degree program at MU,” Seubert said. “I started to do my own research and saw how many opportunities there were to further my interest in plants. It seemed like it would be a great fit.”
Seubert said he quickly found out that the hands-on learning opportunities in plant sciences, especially through the laboratories and greenhouses, were excellent.
“The labs in plant sciences are based on what the class is focused on – you’re not just doing random experiments,” Seubert said. “When you work in the greenhouse, for example, you get to really dig in and learn about how a greenhouse operates. The labs also varied a lot, which I enjoyed. Those opportunities allowed me to explore a variety of options before graduation.”
Seubert developed an interest in research through the hands-on learning opportunities as well. He worked with the Northern Missouri Soybean Breeding Program for two years, including completing an internship with the group. Seubert said he spent a lot of time with the graduate students in the program and learned a lot from Andrew Scaboo, an assistant professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology, and leader of the breeding program.
“The program offered me a great learning environment,” Seubert said. “I found a lot of support within the group, especially from Mariola Usovsky (senior research associate) and Eduardo Beche (research scientist). Everyone was so willing to help guide me as I was working through what interest areas I wanted to pursue.”
One of the graduate students Seubert worked with, Yia Yang, encouraged him to pursue graduate school. Yang earned his bachelor’s degree in plant sciences and his master’s degree from MU as well.
“Yia really pushed me to do my own master’s work,” Seubert said. “He obviously loved doing research and that did light a fire under me to look into what options were out there.”
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in plant sciences this month, Seubert will follow in Yang’s path and pursue a master’s degree. Seubert will stay at the University of Missouri and join the soil, environmental and atmospheric sciences graduate program. Seubert is going to work with Jeffrey Wood, an assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources.
“I’m really excited,” Seubert said. “I’ve done a lot during my time in the plant sciences degree program, and it’s going to be great to start this next step and see what else I can learn.”
Seubert’s research project will take place at the Baskett Forest, which is part of the Central Missouri Research, Extension and Education Center (REEC). He said his work will focus on microbe respirations in a forest soils environment.
“Research is just one of those things that I’ve become fascinated with, and I’m excited to be able to do my own research,” Seubert said. “This project is going to be really interesting, and I’ve already began the process of meeting some people who will be involved, as well as getting my classes and research set up.”
Seubert said he is excited to jump into a project related to soils, too. He said that his soil courses were some of his favorites as an undergraduate student.
“During my undergrad, I did my best to take a bit of everything to make sure my knowledge is well-rounded,” Seubert said. “It’s going to be fun to jump into something a little bit different. It’s a short bridge, going from plants to soils, but I think it’s going to really build my knowledge base.”
Seubert added that he is appreciative of how the plant sciences degree program helped set him up for graduate school.
“The program here is such a great one, and I really enjoyed my time in it,” Seubert said. “If high school students are interested in plants, but still not sure where they want to go with it, they should definitely enroll. The faculty and staff here want to help you find where you belong.”