Mississippi State doctoral student Lucas Franca is receiving the university's Will Carpenter Distinguished Field Scientist Graduate Assistantship.
The award, funded by Monsanto, is named after a 1952 MSU agronomy graduate who worked for 34 years with the Missouri-based agricultural biotechnology and chemical corporation. Carpenter retired in the early 1990s as vice president and general manager of the new products division.
Franca, a native of Brazil, is working towards an agronomy/weed science degree at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
"Half of my family is all farmers and the other half is all doctors," Franca said. "I grew up in a small farming town, and that's how I got interested in agriculture."
After graduating from the Federal University of Uberlândia, he interned with a multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company in Brazil. While there, he became friends with Jonathan Huff, one of the firm's U.S.-based scientists and an MSU doctoral graduate who encouraged Franca to pursue a master's degree in weed science. With Huff's assistance, he connected with Darrin Dodds, MSU associate extension and research professor in the plant and soil sciences department.
As part of the assistantship, Franca is paired with Anthony Mills, Monsanto's weed management technology development representative in Memphis, Tennessee.
"This is the way of the future when it comes to recruiting top talent," Mills said. "A company is only as strong as its people, and there is a lot of competition for the best students. This is one way to help foster that next generation of leaders."
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