Northern State sophomore named 2015 Undergraduate Competitive Research Grant winner

ABERDEEN, S.D. – As the winner of Northern State University’s 2015 Undergraduate Competitive Research Grant, Sienna Marcott aims to create an affordable, sustainable, agricultural-grade fungicide for the organic grower.

Marcott, a sophomore this fall, received a $2,820 grant for her project, “Fungicidal Properties of Essential Oils and Secondary Metabolites against Fungal Strains Common to Damping-Off Disease.”

“I hope that with the creation of this product, I can head a line of multiple organic agricultural applications that I would sell to horticulturists and farmers,” she said.

Marcott, who is originally from Champaign, Ill., is majoring in business management and entrepreneurial studies and minoring in biology with a biotechnology certification. She said her degrees will provide her the knowledge to operate a greenhouse nursery that would use her products.

Marcott will start her research project in late August as the school year starts, and she said Northern’s new greenhouse will be crucial.

“The space needed for my in vivo studies of soybean plants would have been too demanding for a classroom lab,” she explained. “Additionally, the pathogens that my research will test are highly infectious to plants and therefore must be contained in a proper pathogens lab – such as the one that will be constructed within the greenhouse.

Marcott’s interest in this field stems from her childhood, when her father “immersed me in the world of nutritional health and botanical medicine.” She became an organic horticulturist, environmental advocate, and now an aspiring botanist/entrepreneur.

Marcott has lived in Aberdeen for over six years and said many factors went into her decision to attend NSU. She has friends who are alums, and she received recommendations to attend Northern’s business school.

“The affordability and size of Northern allow for a student to truly shape their own experience,” she said. “I would never have thought that I would be awarded a grant for research that so perfectly combines my interests in science and business.”

Overall, her best experiences at Northern have been working with the staff – especially in the science department, since her first two years are focused on biology and biotechnology classes. That includes her research advisor, Dr. Jon Mitchell, NSU assistant professor of biology.

“The experiences that NSU has granted me, particularly for my upcoming research, have been far beyond what I had dreamed coming in as a non-traditional student with such particular career goals,” Marcott said. “I am excited to grow with Northern, and to have the chance to publicly speak about environmental and agricultural issues that are extremely important to me.”


Photo: Marcott