Eli Russell, a senior in the Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, brought home four first-place awards from the Weed Science Society of America’s 2019 National WeedOlympics, held recently at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
WeedOlympics is sponsored annually by the Western, North Central, Northeastern and Southern weed science societies. It was in the Southern society’s undergraduate competition that Russell finished first in both weed identification and the written sprayer-calibration test and also won first-place undergraduate individual honors. At the national level, he outscored 68 fellow undergrads on the written calibration exam to claim first place.
Russell was the only undergraduate student on Auburn’s seven-member WeedOlympics team. Rounding out the team were doctoral weed science students Suma Basak, Adam Boyd and Frances Browne and M.S. students Anna Johnson, Ryan Langemeier and John Peppers.
“Eli trained and competed with us as a graduate team, so he was responsible for mastering the same content,” Frances Browne, team leader, said. “He competed against eight other undergrads in the Southern society events and 68 undergraduates nationally.”
Russell will graduate from Auburn with a B.S. in crop and soil sciences’ science option in May 2020 and already is enrolled in his department’s accelerated master’s program. He expects to complete that degree in May 2021 and pursue a doctorate. His career goals are to conduct research on herbicide-resistant weeds and secure a university faculty position.