Year of Publication


Competition Category

Physical and Engineering Sciences

Biological Sciences


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant and Soil Sciences


As the population continues to expand, it is becoming increasingly relevant to find sustainable and affordable sources of high-nutritional value food, specifically protein and fatty acids.

One such crop of interest is Glycine max, commonly known as soybean. The leguminous plant is of high importance globally with its far-reaching economic applicability. Soybeans are a versatile crop with a wide-ranging habitat, making them a readily available food source. Besides their abundance, this crop is also one of the most economical sources of protein on the planet.

With their already blanketed global reach, the introduction of improved genetics to facilitate improved nutritional quality in the soybean crop would be an asset to humanity as a whole. The commonplace nature of soybeans would likely facilitate the acceptance of improved soybean products. Soybean seeds enriched in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as leghemoglobin, would provide an invaluable addition to human health worldwide.

The goal of the project is to increase levels of omega-3 fatty acid and nutritious protein content, through the employment of leghemoglobin as a visual marker for facilitating plant genetic improvement in soybeans. To date, leghemoglobin has not been tested for visual marker value, thus making the findings of this project novel.

If successful, through improving availability of high-nutritional value food from plants, the project could be environmentally beneficial in improving the current production of protein via reduction of necessary land area and water usage when compared to conventional meat production.

Soybean seeds enriched in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as leghemoglobin, would provide an added health benefit to consumers. In addition to soybeans specifically, having an effective visual marker to facilitate genetic improvement would be an asset to further development of more nutritional food products in general for a myriad of crop species. The project has the potential to have far-reaching impacts on the food, health, and agricultural industries.


Rebecca Caldbeck won the first place in the Physical and Engineering Sciences category. She also won the second place in the Biological Sciences category.

Dr. David Hildebrand was the faculty mentor.