Cheryl Reuben, Undergraduate student, chemical and biochemical engineering
Forecasts soil health with AI
“She showed excellence in scientific programming with Python as well as excellent working ethics. She demonstrates the persistence toward making good progress in research, the openness to learn new method and ideas as well as the willingness to make changes and accept advises.” -Jun Wang, professor
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Faculty mentor/advisor: Jun Wang, PhD, professor and chair, chemical and biochemical engineering, College of Engineering
What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date? Bachelor’s in chemical and biochemical engineering and May 2025
Please describe your research: I used Python and machine learning to analyze data from air and soil sensors created by my lab. The sensors collect data such as air humidity, soil moisture, soil temp, etc. and I used that data to create predictive models. The models are like weather forecasts, but for soil properties.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? This data helps provide farmers information about the state of their soil. It can help them account for variability in weather and soil properties when planning things such as crop irrigation. This can lead to water being used more efficiently, which can also help prevent surface runoff or soil erosion.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started participating in research the summer following my first year.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being involved in research has opened many new opportunities for me. It has given me a broad range of skills and has also allowed me to work more closely with my professors and mentors. This has directly contributed to my accomplishments such as having an internship at the National Renewable Energy Lab during the summer of 2023 and being a Class of 2023 Hollings Scholar.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduating I plan to pursue a PhD in chemical engineering and continue to work in research. Eventually I hope to become a professor at an R1 research university like Iowa!
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