Fertile Ground for Research

April 12, 2019

Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories awards Seed-to-Root Grants in effort to expand research at the field station.


Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories has a storied history dating back to 1909. For more than 100 years, faculty and students have made their way to northwest Minnesota to study the flora and fauna of the state through field research and coursework at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Now, a new effort is underway designed to kickstart research and collaboration for years to come at the station.

“We decided to run this grants program to embed effort at Itasca — that explains the 'Seed-to-Root' title. Our hope is that the grants not only spark projects but also build collaboration and community focused on common ground at Itasca,” says Jonathan Schilling, station director.

The Seed-to-Root Grants are an up-to-two year award open to University faculty to tackle new research at the field station. Itasca recently announced its three recipients of the grant in its first year of awarding the funds. The 2019 recipients are:

  • Trinity Hamilton (Plant and Microbial Biology) for her project "Think globally, sequence locally: Enhancing research and teaching at Itasca Biological Station by establishing on-site long read sequencing capacity"

  • Peter Kennedy (Plant and Microbial Biology) for his project "Establishing a Forest Global Earth Observatory plot at the boreal-temperate ecotone"

  • Kyungsoo Yoo (Soil, Water and Climate) for his project “Warming by worming: Significant control of soil temperature by invasive earthworms and vegetation"

As recipients of the award, these faculty will receive up to $75,000 in funding to pursue their research focused on the Itasca region. While expanding the research happening at the field station itself, Schilling also sees how these grants will play a broader role in Itasca’s work for the park, local community and state.

“All of the funded projects have aspects of engagement, capacity building and collaboration,” says Schilling. “The thing I most look forward to is how they mesh with each other and with ongoing efforts at the Station, strengthening a dynamic science-focused community in the heart of Itasca’s wild spaces.”  –Lance Janssen