Graduate Student Spotlight: Shannon Koss

NC State Graduate Student Shannon Koss

NC State’s Crop & Soil Sciences is home to over 174 undergraduate and 87 graduate students.  It’s an ever-changing fabric of backgrounds and futures that shape our culture and horizon. Our students are on the move between classes, homework, and often, research or fieldwork.

We recently caught up with Shannon Koss, a Crop Science graduate student, to learn what brought her to NC State and where she is headed.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Raleigh, NC.

Who is your advisor and what are you studying?

I work in the Organic Cropping Systems Lab under Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton. Most of my efforts are geared towards legume cover crop breeding; one of my Master’s projects is working in cereal rye cover crop breeding for high allelopathic activity – to aid in early season cash crop weed control.

I am also working on an agronomic cotton experiment. We are looking at the nitrogen contribution of a crimson clover cover crop to a cotton cash crop.

What piqued your interest in this field?

During high school, I took a horticulture class that exposed me to plant sciences. As I was completing my undergraduate degree,  I was inspired by one professor in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department, Dr. Patterson, during my Introduction to Crops class (CS 213). I feel invigorated to work in a discipline that is so essential to humankind. Now I could not imagine doing anything else.

What is next for you?

After graduation, I want to work as a research technician in Extension. I love to organize the logistics of getting well-conducted research done and being out in the field whether it be planting, harvesting, or data collection. Interaction with growers is another aspect I want to keep in my work. Understanding real-world problems and trying to develop solutions give me a feeling of fulfillment.

What is your career goal?

Eventually, I want to be an extension agent or consultant in NC agriculture. Communication and problem solving with farmers are important to me and make me feel like I am making a difference.

What have you learned here that you will take with you in the future?

I was raised to know that hard work is essential to make strides in life, and graduate school has only reinforced that idea. The first important thing I have learned during my time at NC State is that being confident in yourself and your work is not arrogance but will only further your future dreams and aspirations. The second thing that has impacted my daily life is that not knowing is okay. Finding how and from whom to learn new things are how you grow personally and professionally.

Tell us about an experience outside the classroom that impacted your time at NC State.

I think of two main events during my time at NC State that left long-lasting impressions. The first was working in the Organic Cropping Systems Lab during my summers in undergrad with Sarah Seehaver and Rachel Vann. I owe a lot to these two women! They gave me first-hand experience working in agriculture and helped me develop fundamental knowledge of agriculture production from a growers perspective and how agriculture research is conducted in NC.

The second event of impact was taking a 3 week trip to Guatemala to volunteer with coffee growers there. After meeting many international students in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department at NC State, I wanted my own international experience. While abroad I connected with local farmers (without knowing Spanish) because I wanted to know about their production habits like how they fertilize their crops and what their planting and harvest seasons were. Apart from the wonderful cultural experience, I learned that agriculture can connect everyone. The fundamentals of agriculture are the same everywhere, only the execution and purpose are different.

What do you like most about studying in Crop and Soil Sciences?

The extension system at NC State is excellent. I appreciate the close relationships that extension personnel have with NC farmers. These relationships make NC State agricultural research more impactful and ensure stronger agriculture production for NC growers.

Tell us a fun fact about you.

I am a walking, talking recessive gene. I am a twin, red-haired, blue-eyed, and left-handed.

Want to Learn More about Crop and Soil Sciences?

Interested in conducting inspiring agricultural studies like Shannon does?   NC State students learn from amazing professors and hand-on opportunities every day.  Learn more about student degree pathways or sign up for an undergraduate’s guided email tour of our Crop & Soil Sciences Department.  It’s how we are growing the future.