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Ruby Fellow recipient Kinsey Reed's passion for agriculture came to her while at WVU, despite having no previous experience in the field.
Reed, a native of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, earned her undergraduate degree in animal and nutritional sciences and applied and environmental microbiology from WVU. She is staying at WVU to earn her doctorate in plant and soil science. Reed said she enjoys soil science and microbiology because they drive the earth’s nutrients process.
As a freshman, Reed began studying animal and nutritional science with the intention of going to veterinary school, she explained.
“When I worked at a veterinarian’s office in my hometown, I loved the variety of challenges that happened daily,” Reed said. “I ultimately got distracted at the end of my sophomore year when I took microbiology and started working in Zachary Freedman’s soil microbiology lab.”
Reed added environmental microbiology as a second major, and the rest is history. Reed’s interest in agriculture evolved from her animal science coursework, which required her to spend a lot of time on WVU’s Animal Sciences Farm.
“I really enjoyed my experiences at the farm. So, when I started working in the soil microbiology lab, the two interests combined,” Reed said.
Reed is intrigued with agriculture because it is a field that is evolving, and she hopes to stay involved in West Virginia to help farmers after completing her degree.
“I wanted to stay at WVU because it is like a home to me,” Reed said. “I love the people and the landscape here.”
This past year she worked at Riverdale Farms, a diversified farm west of Pittsburgh, as a crop production intern. She got hands-on experience with management strategies to improve soil health at the farm.
During Reed’s undergraduate years, she was involved with Mortar Board, Helvetia and Chimes, the University’s honor societies for students from all majors. She was also the president and founder of the WVU Track Club for three years.
Her doctoral research is focused on understanding microbes and how they use nitrogen to prevent nitrogen pollution. She explained that her research will have a real-world impact for farmers.
She is continuing her education with the help of the Ruby Fellowship program, which provides her a $34,000 stipend, a $2,000 travel grant and a University tuition waiver for her to continue her research.
“The Ruby Fellowship means a lot to me because it gives me financial stability to continue my research, and it makes me feel like the state really believes in me,” Reed said.
Reed explained that the Ruby Fellowship provided her with reassurance amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are in such uncertain times, but I haven’t had to worry if I will have a position or not,” Reed said. “The Ruby Fellowship has given me financial stability through all of this.”