MSU agronomy Ph.D. student earns Gamma Sigma Delta’s top international scholarship

Contact: Reagan Poston

Portrait of Dave Spencer standing in front of a tree
Dave Spencer (Photo by Kenner Patton)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State graduate student is the sole recipient of a top international scholarship award from Gamma Sigma Delta, the leading agricultural honor society.

Dave Spencer, a doctoral student in agronomy, is receiving the organization’s International Graduate Student scholarship. The Collierville, Tennessee, native received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from MSU and has been a member of the organization’s MSU chapter for two years. He is now studying and researching at the university’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.

The scholarship recognizes students like Spencer who have dedicated their studies to the advancement of agriculture. He plans to use the stipend to support research on conservation practices, such as cover crops and reduced tillage, and its effects on irrigation efficiency, off-site agrochemical transport, and the agronomics and economics of corn production. Spencer hopes his research will further develop production systems that maintain or improve productivity while reducing environmental impacts.

The award process began with Spencer being awarded the MSU Gamma Sigma Delta chapter’s Student Award of Merit Scholarship, which automatically nominated him for the national award. 

“I am proud to represent Mississippi State University and highlight the valuable agricultural research conducted here. I know there are some great graduate students who applied, and to be selected as the overall winner is an honor,” Spencer said.  

Spencer credits the connections he has formed for support in his success, not only within Gamma Sigma Delta but also within the university.

“The Gamma Sigma Delta community works hard to advance agriculture and bring people together who are passionate about the cause. My advisors and other MSU students, faculty and staff have been instrumental in my success,” Spencer said.

Jason Krutz, Spencer’s major advisor, praised his dedication to the field of agriculture.

“Dave has embodied the primary ideals of Gamma Sigma Delta—a high standard of scholarship, worthy attainment and a high degree of excellence in the practice of agricultural pursuits,” said Krutz, director of the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute and a professor in MSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

Spencer is the second MSU student to receive the Gamma Sigma Delta International Graduate Scholarship in recent years. Katie Cagle-Holtcamp, an interdisciplinary doctoral student in MSU’s School of Human Sciences and the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, received the honor in 2019.

For more on the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at