MREC Student Places First in Graduate Student Competition
Debalina Saha, a doctoral student in the environmental horticulture department and graduate assistant at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (MREC), placed first in the International Plant Propagation Society Southern Region graduate student research competition at their 42nd annual conference October 28 – November 1.
“We started this research as a way to see how different mulch types and herbicide placements effect weed growth,” Saha said. “We also measured light exclusion or penetration.”
Saha placed first in the graduate student research section for her work in weed science. The competition awards students travel grants to attend the conference as well as scholarships.
“Measuring light under different mulch depths was something that had never been done before,” Saha said. “Before this project, there were only theoretical concepts but now we can apply this information to the mulch area index.”
In the future, Saha hopes to build upon this experiment to better understand weed-mulch interactions.
“Now that we understand how mulches affect growth, we want to understand why,” Saha said. “The next phase of this research will focus on the allelopathic effect mulches have on weeds, exploring what, how and why they effect each species.”
Saha began her studies in Gainesville but relocated to work as a graduate assistant at the MREC in the summer of 2016. Since transferring, she has worked alongside Dr. Chris Marble, assistant professor of ornamental, landscape and invasive weed management, and has focused her research on understanding weed science and management for ornamental crop production in nurseries and landscapes.
“At the end of my program, I hope to have developed an entire guide on how different mulch types and depths impact weed growth for nursery growers,” Saha said.