William Samson

Mauck lab: Working in agriculture, I saw many pesticide issues, including different maximum residue levels (MRLs) in every country and a lack of biologically derived crop protection products that are often MRL-exempt. I joined Plants3D to work on solving industry needs with bioengineering and an interdisciplinary approach. I’m interested in learning how to translate biology into innovative solutions that advance the industry while being more sustainable for the planet. Collaboration between science and engineering is critical for improving agriculture and solving the global problem of food security. I am researching novel antimicrobial peptides and molecular techniques for improving crop resistance to bacterial pathogens. I joined a new lab at the start of my third year. My recent research focuses on providing growers with further information to improve soil health's biological and physical qualities. Farmers rely on synthetic fertilizers because they are limited by the land they can farm to reach production targets, but these costly agrochemicals are a risk to the environment. There is a new frontier of soil health, biologically derived products that enhance soil's biological and nutritional qualities. First, I am researching applications for Black Soldier Fly (BSF) frass and exoskeleton powder in California agriculture. Recently BSF frass biofertilizer was registered in California, but applicable usage rates for common California crops must be applied. I run trials with melon and lettuce to develop recommended usage rates to amend the soil with BSF frass biofertilizer to grow plants at equivalent levels to mineral fertilizer. These BSF products also contain chitin, a known plant elicitor that primes plant resistance. Next, I will explore how amending soils with BSF products affects plant resistance in pathogen and insect vector exposure assays. Lastly, I will run field trials to develop applicable recommendations for growers to use BSF products to improve soil and plant health.