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Graduate School Newsletter - October 2022

Esneider Mahecha-Bojaca

Graduate School Spotlight

As South Dakota residents embrace another Autumn, full of colorful leaves, chillier weather, and harvest season, Esneider Mahecha-Bojaca takes the opportunity to remember when he first came to Brookings, SD to pursue his PhD in Biological Sciences with a specialization in Plant Science.

“I [came] from a coffee bean production region, warm and humid the entire year, full of mountains, rivers, plantain crops, and cassava. When I first saw the large wheat, corn, and soybean crop extensions, I was very impressed.”

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Esneider earned his first degree in Agriculture Engineering from the National University of Colombia. However, eager to continue his education in the United States within the realm of plant pathology, he connected with Dr. Emmanuel Byamukama, who shares the same passion as Esneider for finding environmentally friendly alternative fungicides. It was a natural fit for him to begin as an intern within the Plant Science department.

In a short six months, Esneider was enrolled full time as a PhD student working on research about “chemical biopesticides and essential oils in the control of fungal disease in wheat”. During this time, many of the faculty and other graduate students noticed Esneider’s hard work and positive attitude. Connie Tande, a plant diagnostician for the SDSU extension office, reflects on her work with Esneider:

I have had the privilege of working with him on the in vitro parts of this research, where we learned some new things together and where I watched him flourish from learning the basic techniques to looking at the bigger picture of disease control using integrated management. Esneider is a very respectful, kind, helpful and most of all intelligent person. Esneider sets the bar pretty high and has truly been a benefit to our program. I am sure he will go on to do great things after he graduates from SDSU.

Undoubtedly, Esneider will leave a legacy at SDSU, both academically and personally. His advice to future graduate students is to “remember, never give up!...[It] can be hard sometimes and seem long, but there is a very gratifying end”.

However, the impact SDSU has had on him is just as profound. “The most gratifying part of my program at SDSU has been the experience and knowledge gained, as everything was new for me. Other country, language, and culture…Moreover, completing my Ph.D. work was a very rewarding experience, not only because of the knowledge, science, and people I have had the opportunity to learn from but also because of the growing and enriching experience it has been.”

In the future, Esneider plans to use his doctoral degree to pursue a career as a plant pathologist, researcher, or consultant. With confidence, he knows he will be able to go anywhere from here and contribute what he has learned here at SDSU to help producers with their crops.

Professional Development Spotlight: Research

The research competency area is full of opportunities for students to gain valuable insight into contemporary topics and important knowledge that relates to both academic and professional research.

Professional Development Spotlight - Research

Below is a quick summary of each permanent module, how it’s offered, and how it can benefit you!

Lit Review 101 (online or in person, scheduled)

Attend an introductory session on literature reviews Hosted by librarians at Briggs Library

If you have any questions about any of the research modules or the professional development program in general, please reach out to Kerry McDowell.

Team Science (online, available anytime)

Team Science is a current movement within the science community that focuses on cross-discipline cooperation in research and solving the world’s problems Interactive and provides real-life situations to navigate and problem solve!

  • Earn an additional certificate!

Understanding Plagiarism Certificate (online, available anytime)

Make sure you are up to date on your understanding of plagiarism – how to identify and avoid it.

CITI Training (online, available anytime)

The CITI Program is increasingly the go-to training program for colleges/universities, healthcare institutions, technology and research organizations, and governmental agencies Complete the “Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)” certificate or submit another current certificate you’ve earned through the CITI Program. This certificate is active for 3 years and looks great on resumes/CVs!

GSR 601 (course)

If you are currently enrolled in GSR 601, you automatically complete this module!

*For more information about each event, check out the event module on D2L!

  • How to Promote Grit and Resilience in Youth (Teaching Module) – September 28 (register online)
  • Authentic Networking (Career Development Module) – September 29, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Wooden Legs Brewing Co. (register online)
  • College of Ag, Food & Environmental Sciences Career Fair, Oct. 5, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Club 71 (Football Stadium)
  • CPR, AED, First Aid Training – Miller Wellness Center (Wellness Module) – Oct. 6 and 18 (Registration closes 1 week prior to class) Understanding Your Clifton Strengths (Leadership Module) – October 12 (Registration Due September 30) *Use discount code SDSU50 to only pay $50.00! (Regular price $150.00)
  • Adult Mental Health First Aid Training (Wellness Module) – November 8 (Registration due October 21)
  • How to Navigate Non-Suicidal Self Injury with Youth (Teaching Module) – November 16

Tuesday, October 18th 12-1pm CST

Lewis and Clark Room or zoom -

Join the Graduate School as we discuss graduate student awards, who is eligible, and when to apply! Bring your questions and lunch and we’ll supply the dessert.

Available via D2L

Orientation will be available via D2L and accessible to all graduate students. The orientation will cover the basics of graduate school, current policies and procedures that impact students and professional development opportunities as well as highlighting other campus resources. Orientation is not required, but will be accessible all year for students to access.

Important Upcoming Dates:

October 10, 2022 – Native American Day (Graduate School office closed)

November 18, 2022 - Final Oral Exam Completed for Fall 2022 graduates

Other Announcements:

SAVE THE DATE: Graduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Day (GRSCAD)

Next Spring, the Graduate School will be sponsoring Graduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Day (GRSCAD) on April 26, 2023. The day will begin with a featured speaker/presentation, followed by graduate student poster presentations, culminating with the Graduate Student Recognition Event. Please consider submitting your research, scholarly or creative activity for the poster show. This is a great way to present your work to faculty, staff and fellow students and learn what other graduate students are doing across campus. Additionally, faculty judges will select the top 2 posters to receive awards.

Graduate students will need to provide a brief abstract of the project, as well as other pertinent information. Please register by Friday, April 14, 2023.

Graduate Assistantship Opportunities

Internships, Fellowship & Scholarship Opportunities


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