The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology
Viticulture Graduate Student Research Spotlight: Khushwinder Singh
Recent viticulture #FresnoStateGrad Khushwinder Singh's wide assortment of skills have been well-utilized in studying various vineyard issues Napa to Bakersfield with faculty, students and industry partners.
A large part of his graduate work has centered on his grapevine research project based in the Bakersfield area. He monitored vine response to calcium-based amendments through remote sensing to potentially help growers dealing with soil salinity issues.
He has also been one of the College's most called-upon students for drone-related projects, as well as a supportive mentor to other students and their research projects.
Read more about his background and research in this recent interview.
Q: Talk about where you are from, and why you chose to attend Fresno State?
Singh: “I was born and raised in the small village of Moga in the state of Punjab in Northwest India, and moved to the U.S. in 2018 after I received my undergraduate degree from Khalsa College in Amritsar, India. I found Fresno State as the best option for continuing my graduate studies in viticulture and enology as I was lured by the opportunities provided to the students to participate in applied research initiatives providing them with practical learning experience to enrich their skills.”
Q: Which classes and faculty members had the biggest influence on you while at Fresno State?
Singh: “The statistics classes (i.e Agri 200 and VEN 250T) had the biggest influence on me. I learned a lot about setting up research projects in the fields with different designs and detailed knowledge of data analysis using SPSS Data and RStudio software.”
Singh: “I am lucky to have worked with Dr. Luca Brillante, and he has been a great mentor. He helped me to understand everything from the field to the lab and work in collaboration with different people belonging to the viticulture industry. I really appreciated how much he encouraged me throughout these times.”
Q: Talk about which farms you have worked at and skills you have learned that you can apply to your career.
Singh: “Fortunately, being a member of such a diverse lab in university, I got the chance to work on different projects throughout California. I started in Spring 2020 and worked on field data and sample collection related to plant physiology, diseases, soil physical/chemical properties and lab analysis of plant tissue and soil samples.”
Q: Give us more background about your campus research, and how will it benefit your career path.
Singh: “My graduate project was based in the Bakersfield area where I focused on monitoring the response of grapevines to calcium based amendments through remote sensing. A large portion of the Western San Joaquin Valley is affected by salinity. The use of calcium-based amendments such as gypsum, anhydrite helps to reduce its impact on crop production. I tried to use different forms and dosages of gypsum to evaluate how the plant physiology, berry composition and soil physical/chemical properties are affected by it through traditional methods, as well as through using vegetation indices derived from satellite imagery. This will help the local growers to get best reclamation practices for their vineyards.”
Singh: “I also had the chance to assist the undergraduate VIT 101 class in the Fall 2021 in the vineyard where I helped them in setting up experiments, field data and sample collection using pressure chamber, Licor 6800, leaf area meter and light quantum sensor etc. It was a great opportunity for me to help students get more hands-on experience with the research activities in the campus vineyard.”
Q: What was your background in agriculture before you started at Fresno State?
Singh: “I have a family background in agriculture, and we grow rice and wheat on farms in Punjab. I used to assist my family in farm operation all my childhood, and it's the place that aroused my interest to choose it as my career."
Q: Have you received any scholarships tied to campus, the Jordan College or Ag One?
Singh: “I am a recipient of the Jordan and Harvey graduate awards for the year 2020-2021. I have also received ASEV traditional scholarships twice (2020, 2021).”
Q: Have you overcome any challenges to get where you are today that have shaped who you are?
Singh: “The biggest challenge that I have faced was my communication skills. Being a non-native English speaker, I worked hard to deal with the language barrier.”
Q: What's your potential next career step, and what field would you like to work in after graduation?
Singh: “I want to attain a career in agricultural research and work on a subject that I am interested in to gain better insight and apply my knowledge and understanding that can benefit local communities.”