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Recently Graduated OSU Student Heads for Ireland

Monday, June 28, 2021

Having grown up in the giant metropolitan area of Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, nothing about Maura Shennan’s background screamed agriculture.


“There was nothing agricultural about my town, my upbringing, nor my education until I started spending my summers working and living on farms in western Michigan,” said Shennan, who graduated from the OSU Plant and Soil Sciences undergraduate program in May. 


“I started working on farms because I loved it. Being outside with livestock and tending fields was so beautiful and fulfilling. It was a lifestyle I had never experienced before, and it suited me so well.”


After working on several research projects with Oklahoma State University professor and soil scientist Jason Warren, Shennan conducted her own research, which assessed the impact of anthropogenic methane production on soil microbial communities, specifically methanotrophic bacteria that would potentially thrive in high methane environments. Using gas chambers and a gas chromatography machine, she measured the consumption of methane at various distances from the OSU dairy lagoon to see if proximity to the lagoon affected the soil's affinity for methane. 


“I am passionate about the field of agronomy, because it is universally important and influences all aspects of our lives and our environment. Studying agronomy is an opportunity to influence food security, economic development and environmental health,” she said. “I was fortunate to attend OSU, because agronomy and soil sciences are highly valued, and progress is prioritized. The potential to improve the industry of agriculture is endless.”


Shennan said she chose OSU, because she was passionate about agriculture and other natural sciences, and she wanted to go to a school that was well-known and respected for the field.


“Not only does the college of agriculture offer vast opportunities, but they also encourage every student to take advantage of them and make them easily accessible to everyone. This and the undeniably amiable and welcoming environment made it easy for me to choose OSU.”


Shennan said her favorite part of being in college was the clubs and teams she participated in. 


“I made my closest friends in the Agronomy Club and the soil science judging team. After attending a seasonal conference for undergraduate agronomy students as a freshman, I came back with memories and friendships that have lasted to this day.”


This summer, Shennan will be an intern with the non-profit organization Ridge to Reefs, working with agricultural producers as a translator and taking soil samples in Puerto Rico for a long-term project. In September, she will begin a master’s degree program in environmental resource management at the University College Dublin in Ireland.

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