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  • Madeline Topf

Section of NSF personal statement that I had to cut but I love anyway


Also do you remember that bill nye was brought to you by the national science foundation?


Science Rules


here's the exerpt:


I worked at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2016 on a Wallace-Carver Fellowship granted by the World Food Prize Foundation. I was the sole member of Dr. Mary Cornelius’ lab that summer. She conducted readily applicable and impactful research.

Anasa tristis (squash bug) is a pest of home summer squash plants nationwide. The typical treatment for squash bugs is to apply ecologically harmful pesticides. Other options include applying dish soap, spraying neem oil, or, as I saw on one blog post, bringing out the Hoover and going to town. We were investigating a safe and effective bio-control strategy: wasps.

"Bringing out the Hoover and going to town"

G. pennsylvaniccum wasps parasitize the eggs of the A. trisits pest. I collected wild squash bug eggs and incubated them for a week. I noted what hatched out of the egg: pest or wasp. I tested whether a buckwheat border around the squash patch would recruit wasps to the pest-ridden plants and increase parasitism.

"summer's end"

I only got as far as setting up the experiment, but I presented my work at the Wallace-Carver Fellowship conference at summer’s end. I enjoyed presenting and discussing my findings with people across a wide range of research backgrounds.


The fellowship included a conference in Washington, D.C., where I attended talks on innovative ways to mitigate food insecurity. I realized my passion for science was fueled by a strong desire to pursue a career path which allowed me to pursue solutions to global problems.

"organizational side of effecting change"

I followed up on this passion by interning at the World Food Prize headquarters the summer of 2018. The internship allowed me to gain skills outside of science and to see the administrative and organizational side of effecting change.


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