Student Research Highlight: Grace Woodmansee, Chico State

Grace Woodmansee
Woodmansee spoke to us from a mixed-grass prairie in the middle of Wyoming where she's interning at the USDA-ARS High Plains Grasslands Research Station in Cheyenne. During her internship she is working on production and conservation projects on rangelands under the supervision of Dr. Justin Derner of the USDA. 

Upon returning from a study abroad program in New Zealand, Woodmansee volunteered to work on an animal nutrition project with Dr. Kasey DeAtley.  She became involved in every step of the project, from collecting and analyzing data to drawing out conclusions and making recommendations. That first project led to an appointment in Dr. DeAtley's lab as a research assistant, and with that, more projects and greater challenges.

Woodmansee knows that the undergraduate research experience enhanced her academic learning; the science and critical thinking she used in her research projects led to greater understanding and insight of the concepts and materials presented in the classroom.  "It became easier to make connections between concepts we were learning about in class and their real-world application," notes Woodmansee. "It motivated me to conduct applied research that directly impacts the producer."

This talented student had discovered that the knowledge from these research projects can be communicated back to cattle producers so they can profitably and sustainably manage their herds and rangeland. Woodmansee describes her undergraduate research experience as "transformative."  Although she expected to grow as a student, she was surprised how these experiences have helped her grow as a person and a researcher. The rangeland internship ended in November 2016 and Woodmansee plans to continue gaining experience in the field before heading off to a master's program in rangeland management.