Wanderson Novais Receives Gerald O. Mott Award

July 6, 2023
Congratulations, Wanderson!

Congratulations to Wanderson Novais, on receiving the Gerald O. Mott Meritorious Graduate Student Award in Crop Science! Wanderson is currently pursuing his PhD in Agronomy under the advisement of Dr. Alex Lindsey.

The Gerald O. Mott Award is given out through the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and gets its namesake from the first CSSA President. The award is highly competitive and according to CSSA given to "top-notch graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in crop science disciplines".

Wanderson shared how meaningful this achievement has been as well as a bit about his current research and what being an HCS graduate student is like:

How did you first become interested in crop science?

Wanderson: I grew up on a farm, so I always have been in contact with plants; however, I decided to study crop science back when I attended a technical high school (IFRO) in Brazil. Back then, I had to choose a career. My choices were informatics, business administration, and agriculture. I chose it because I was more familiar with ag, but I had no plans to continue in that field. I became serious about crop science at EARTH University, my alma mater, where I fell in love with sustainable agriculture and helping farmers through research. 

Wanderson conducting research

What does receiving this award mean to you?

Wanderson: It means I am on the right track to giving back to my community, in this case, the HCS. It was important to me to contribute to the department and assist the grad students from HCS. I have been very fortunate to receive support from the department and be surrounded by amazing people like our graduate students, so I wanted to give back through my leadership and work.

How is your research going?

Wanderson: It is going well. I am carrying out my last field season and have a busy schedule to ensure efficient and timely work on my two locations (Wooster and Northwest research stations). I just started flooding my plots, so it is very exciting. I am very fortunate to count on the help of my advisor (Dr. Lindsey), lab mates (Dr. Victor Gomes, Anu, Ben, and Byron), and research station staff. They help my experiment and keep me on the right track. I am excited to compile the results of three years of work and see what recommendations I can give farmers. 

Wanderson with Victor Gomes at a research site

Could you share what a typical day as a grad student in HCS is like for you?

Wanderson: It is a tricky question because my typical day is very different depending on whether I have fieldwork, lab work, data analysis, or writing.

When I have fieldwork, it is two hours of driving filled with good conversation to a research station, 3-6 hours of work in the field, and two hours driving back home. When not in the field, I usually come to my office or work from home on data analysis. At home, I battle in the morning against SAS or R, have a break to play with my dog Nino, go back to some data analysis with SAS or R, or if I hit some wall, I usually try to write something or read an article. I have a similar schedule in the office, except for drinking some chimarrão between data analysis.

What have been a few highlights of your time as a grad student so far?

Wanderson: I have three:

  1. Winning the Crop Science society-wide graduate student competition. I felt very honored to be able to present my research and that it resonated with different people. 
  2. Working with the agronomy faculty. I had the opportunity to learn from several of our faculty, but being mentored and working alongside Dr. Alex Lindsey has been a fantastic experience. I am also collaborating with Dr. Laura Lindsey and Dr. Osler Ortez, which has been fantastic to learn from our soybean and corn specialists. Wanderson with Dr. Alex Lindsey at a research site
  3. Being the president of the Graduate Student Association (HCS-GSA). One of the main activities was organizing our annual symposium, where I worked with a fantastic team of grad students, staff, and professors. 

How do you balance all your responsibilities?

Wanderson: I had to learn how to prioritize my responsibilities and trust my coworkers. As a graduate student, I have limited time, and I need to trust my team, so we can get multiple activities done simultaneously. Trying to do it all alone is tempting, but I learned I can get burned out quickly. I also got more comfortable with the idea that not everything will be perfect and I will make mistakes. Learning to accept and learn from my mistakes has helped me to cope with stress less and focus my energy on results. Last, it sounds counterproductive, but not working on your responsibilities for a few hours helps. Talking to people or walking my dog has helped me stay organized.

Keep up with Wanderson on Twitter @novaiswander