Meet graduate student Brendan Noons

Brendan Noons
Brendan Noons

Brendan Noons, a master’s degree student in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, enjoys the outdoors. When he is not hiking with his dogs or foraging for wild ramps or mushrooms, he is likely at the College’s research farm, where he is currently studying soil amendments, materials that modify the soil structure to absorb or retain water and nutrients more efficiently. Here is what he said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

I graduated from the University of Rhode Island, but I spent two years at the University of Hawaii at Manoa as a part of the National Student Exchange program.

What was your major?

My major was biological sciences with a focus on plant science.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I had always thought about going back to school, but I wanted some practical work experience first. I got to work with USDA and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and had a lot of great experiences. After working for about six years after getting my undergraduate degree, it was clear in order to get the career I wanted I would need a graduate degree. I also found that I had a lot to learn in the field of plant science.

Who is your advisor?

My advisor is Dr. Karl Guillard, a professor in plant science who also studies turfgrass.

What is your field of research?

The overarching theme of my research is the plant responses and environmental impacts of using organic versus synthetic soil amendments. I have one study involving collecting leachate from research plots and analyzing the water for potential fertilizer pollutants. The second study includes soil sampling plots receiving different rates of compost and determining the different mineralization potentials of the soils.

Name one aspect of your work that you like.

I really enjoy doing outdoor field work. While lab work can be gratifying, you can’t beat working outside.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far?

I would say my greatest accomplishment so far has been my presentations at conferences and research field days. I have not had much exposure to presenting to large groups of academics or industry professionals. I think I have come a long way overcoming public speaking anxiety.

What do you hope to do once you get your degree?

I am open to a few different options after I get my degree. I have been thinking about going on to get a Ph.D., but if the right job opportunity comes around, I would definitely see where that could take me.

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

I am an avid hiker and love taking my dogs, Umber and Olenna, with me. I also enjoy foraging for wild edibles like ramps and morel mushrooms. My favorite hobby is making mead and coming up with interesting new recipes!

By Jason M. Sheldon