Crop Ecophysiology student earns NAAPN award, gives presentation

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Nathan Hein, a graduate student in agronomy, received an award from the North American Plant Phenotyping Network for his research. His current project at the agronomy fields is working to enhance the efficiency of the use of nitrogen on crops. (Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Nathan Hein made his mark on the Kansas State Crop Ecophysiology Lab as a 2021 North American Plant Phenotyping Network Graduate Student Award winner.

The NAPPN Student Award recognizes graduate students making impactful contributions to plant phenotyping in areas of engineering, modeling, plant breeding, data analytics, physiology, remote sensing and more.

At the 2020 North American Plant Phenotyping Network annual meeting, Hein, third-year doctoral student and assistant scientist, presented his work on high night-time temperature stress on winter wheat.

Krishna Jagadish, associate professor of agronomy, said Hein possesses all the qualities a professor would want when looking for a student. Jagadish said Hein goes out of his way to solve problems, is inquisitive, prioritizes tasks and has a strong and desirable character.

“I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the NAPPN Graduate Student Award,” Jagadish said.

Andrew Leakey, plant biology professor and department head at the University of Illinois, serves on the executive committee for NAPPN.

Nathan Hein, a graduate student in agronomy, received an award from the North American Plant Phenotyping Network for his research. His current project at the agronomy fields is working to enhance the efficiency of the use of nitrogen on crops. He hopes his research will help farmers save money and resources.(Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)
Nathan Hein hopes his research will help farmers save money and resources. (Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

“We are delighted to highlight Hein’s work and its relevance to the NAPPN mission,” Leakey said. “Hein was selected as the recipient of the North American Plant Phenotyping Network Graduate Student Award because of his exceptional research productivity in the area of high throughput crop phenotyping, contributions to educational programs for underrepresented groups and for establishing a relationship with an industry partner.”

Leakey said the NAPPN executive committee looks forward to following Hein’s future successes.

Since the meeting, Hein continued to expand his research network and impact through research, publications and community outreach. He was invited to give a keynote presentation during the 2022 NAPPN conference at the University of Georgia.

Hein began his education at the United States Naval Academy where he graduated with honors.

Following the Navy, Hein worked on a farm outside of Lawrence where he was the farm manager for seven years. While working as a farm manager, Hein pursued an agricultural science degree from Oregon State University.

During the time Hein completed his agricultural science degree, K-State listed the assistant scientist position in the Crop Ecophysiology Lab.

“The assistant scientist position was not only a perfect match for my academic and personal goals, but Manhattan was perfect for my family also,” Hein said.

Nathan Hein, a graduate student in agronomy, received an award from the North American Plant Phenotyping Network for his research. His current project at the agronomy fields is working to enhance the efficiency of the use of nitrogen on crops. He hopes his research will help farmers save money and resources.(Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)
Nathan Hein is a nontraditional student with a wife and two kids. He didn’t start his career with agronomy in mind, but after working at a production farm that lacked flexibility in its practices, he changed his path and came to K-State initially as an assistant research scientist. He ended up enrolling and is now a doctoral student in agronomy. (Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Shortly after becoming the assistant scientist in the crop ecophysiology lab, Hein began furthering his education by pursuing his doctorate degree while working full time.

Hein said his research focuses mainly on the physiological and genetic basis of high night temperature resilience of wheat as well as utilizing in-season decision-making tools to increase nitrogen use efficiency in wheat.

“I really respect all the work being done by the NAPPN group and the people themselves. To receive the graduate student award is a real honor,” Hein said.

Hein said his goal after graduating with his doctorate is to stay in academic research.

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