Meet graduate student Lauren Kurtz

Lauren Kurtz. Photo credit: Carl Johnson/CAHNR

According to her advisor, Lauren Kurtz is dedicated to her studies. She is also a flexible individual who transitioned successfully from working in environmental education and then water conservation in Colorado to doing hemp research in Connecticut. Here is what she said about UConn.

Where did you study as an undergraduate? What was your major? 

I went to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had a double major in environmental science and geography.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I love learning! I originally planned on going to graduate school to study geography right after I graduated from undergrad in 2014. I didn’t find the right fit or funding and decided to wait a few years.

I moved to Connecticut in October 2018 and applied to UConn graduate school for plant science. I started in January 2019. I was in the right place at the right time!

Lauren Kurtz stands in a greenhouse with hemp plants. Phoro credit: Carl Johnson/CAHNR

Who is your advisor? What is your field of research?

Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture Associate Professor Jessica Lubell-Brand is my advisor. I work in her lab researching hemp, specifically plant genetic improvement, breeding and cultivation.

Name one aspect of your work that you like.

I like bridging the gap between academia and the burgeoning hemp industry. I enjoy working with hemp because of its medicinal and nutritional value. Those omega fatty acids!

In your opinion, what is your greatest accomplishment so far?

My greatest accomplishment, so far, is attending graduate school on a full assistantship.

When do you expect to get your degree? What then?

I plan to get my degree in spring of 2021. After that, I may pursue a career in the hemp industry or maybe a botanic garden or conservancy.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I was originally interested in researching native plants. This interest led me to Dr. Lubell, who researches native plants and hemp.

Due to funding opportunities, I decided to pursue hemp research. Go with the flow, yah know.

By Patsy Evans

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