Background Image Alternative Text: decorative

Training Scientists

As part of our USGS mandate and in our role as MSU faculty members, we are privileged to mentor young scientists at various stages in their career paths. From funding water science (link to Funding Water Science) projects at Mississippi institutions to working with graduate students, we are committed to fostering scientific integrity, curiosity, and collaboration.


Card image cap

Amilcar Vargas

Amilcar Vargas is a doctoral student in the MSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences working in Stoneville, Mississippi.

His projects' overall objective is to evaluate the water conservation benefits of sprinkler irrigation on corn and soybean in the Mississippi Delta region.

His research interest is irrigation technologies, such as variable-rate irrigation and soil-based sensor irrigation to conserve water resources.

Card image cap

Dillon Russell

Dillon Russell works as an Extension Associate II at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Mississippi, where he got his start in irrigation research in 2015 as a summer worker reporting to Dr. Jason Krutz.

He serves as a program coordinator at the National Center for Alluvial Aquifer Research and is developing the Mississippi Master Irrigator program under the direction of Dr. Drew Gholson.

His goal is to educate the state's row crops producers by showing them proven practices that increase their farm profitability, as well as conserve and restore natural groundwater levels.

Card image cap

Makenzie Holifield

Makenzie Holifield is pursuing a Master's degree in Coast Science at the University of Southern Mississippi. She has worked with Dr. Wei Wu since she was an undergraduate student in the fall of 2020. Initially, she helped graduate students with sample processing, collection, and data entry.

After receiving her Bachelor's degree in marine science from USM in May 2022, she began her own research assessing and understanding the compounding effects of seasonal variability and anthropogenic influence on vulnerable brackish marsh ecosystems along the coast. Her research includes biomass, salinity, and inundation analysis in relation to future sea-level rise predictions.

Makenzie's research objectives also involve evaluating nature-based solutions in underrepresented communities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She plans to use the PCSWMM to mitigate stormwater runoff and urban/suburban flooding.

In addition, she will conduct landscape modeling of marsh landward migration and changes in coastal wetland coverage using data collected on above- and below-ground biomass.