Bridget McFarland

Young Alum of the Month

Name:  Bridget McFarland

Hometown:  Ames, IA

Major and Graduation Date:  Agronomy; B.S., May 2017

Favorite ISU class:  Agronomy 463, Soil Formation and Landscape Relationships with Dr. Lee Burras.  Dr. Burras took us on several trips throughout the state to put our mapping, land-use and geography knowledge to use!

Job Title & Company:  Graduate Research Assistant in the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Major Job/Position Responsibilities:  As a Graduate Research Assistant, I am currently working on several projects focusing on maize as part of my Ph.D. thesis and also finishing up the required coursework for my degree.  My first project is with the Genomes To Fields initiative, focuses on how variety performance consistency has been influenced by selection and environments.  My other project aims to assess the physiological effect of planting density on plant performance.  With the help of my advisor, Dr. Natalia de Leon, collaborators and colleagues, I am responsible for every aspect of these projects: the experimental design, data collection and analysis, summarization of project results and supervising undergraduate research assistants.

What you like most about your job/position?  I enjoy the challenges and growth potential, both personally and professionally, that come with graduate school.  Prior to graduate school, I didn’t know much about writing code for statistical computing (R, SQL, Bash) and now I can’t imagine doing my research without this skillset.  Graduate school wouldn’t be possible without the support of my lab mates, friends, family and the Plant Sciences community at UW-Madison!   

What advice would you give to current students pursuing a career in Agriculture and Life Sciences?  Discovering what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about will help you immensely as you navigate your collegiate career and beyond.  This applies to student organizations, internships, studying abroad opportunities and more.  Believe in yourself and others will, too!   

April 2019

Area of Expertise: