Simpson Students Invited to Present Research Regarding Palmer Project

By Laura Wiersema ’18

Finals week is quickly approaching, but seven Simpson College students won’t be studying and taking tests when it arrives. They’ll be presenting research at the North Central Weed Science Society Annual Meeting in Des Moines.

For the past two years, students have been working on what is known as The Palmer Project, an interdisciplinary project using mathematics to simulate the spread of the Palmer amaranth superweed. The goal is to raise awareness to create better weed management despite herbicide resistance.

John Pauley, the professor of philosophy who is helping the students with the Palmer Project said, “We’re combining natural science and social science. We’re sort of introducing something new.”

The Palmer Project presented a poster at the weed society’s annual meeting last year, but this year the students will be presenting two posters as well as two papers. They are among a select number of undergraduate students presenting. Other presenters include professors and graduate students from other schools across the Midwest.

Simpson Senior Zoe Muehleip of Dubuque, who has put countless hours into the project, said, “I think this interdisciplinary model of research is clearly necessary when you look at the reality of American agriculture, and it is the kind of thing you see at the graduate level.”

Senior Park Mikels is excited to see the group’s hard work pay off.

We have put in a lot of hard work the last two summers to model the spread of Palmer amaranth across Iowa and devise strategies to prevent devastation of the agricultural sector due to such types of invasive weeds,” he said.

“It’s rewarding to know that our work can have such a huge impact in assisting such an important area of our economy.”

(Incidentally, the students won’t be getting a pass on finals. Most will complete theirs before the conference.)