Jacob Schindler, who is working toward his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree, has spent a good chunk of his life focusing on kudzu. Yes, kudzu. His research has resulted in a national award and a U.S. patent, and he still wants to grow the plant on Mars.
Lowndes High School
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
In 2013, I was selected as the FFA National Star in Agriscience for my SAE (supervised agricultural experience) with the eradication of kudzu through environmentally friendly means. This award was the culmination of years of research and experiments, all of which began when I was in middle school. Each student in the sixth grade was required to participate in the school science fair.
The first idea for my science experiment was to send kudzu to Mars in an effort to begin terraforming the planet. I think I might still have some of the drawings of what I wanted the landing module to look like. My science teacher, Cyndi Harrell, told me to go back to the drawing board, so I went home and told my mom and she told me the same thing. They both explained to me that time and money were major factors in both my science project and space travel as a whole. Naturally, I responded by adjusting my sites to simply revitalizing the deserts with kudzu. I am really surprised that nobody just gave up on me at that point.
Once again, my mother and Mrs. Harrell very carefully explained to me what feasibility meant. I accepted that I was not going to be traveling very far for my project, but I had not quite given up on Mars. With a little research online, I was able to find the estimated composition of the Martian atmosphere, and found many of the gases there are also readily available in canisters for medical (oxygen and nitrous oxide), industrial (carbon dioxide) and entertainment (helium) applications. With this information and a deep desire to prove to my peers that “Ya-huh, you can grow plants on Mars!” I prepared to test the effects of various gases on kudzu.
Through years of trial and error, I finally came to a point in my life where I had designed and fabricated a device that used helium for the environmentally friendly eradication of kudzu. That sort of became my life, killing kudzu. It is kind of funny because my goal was to control it so that people would see how useful it is.
I also became a patent recipient for the herbicide and method for the eradication of kudzu (Publication #US20120252671 A1).
I am currently digital editor for Georgia Landscape Magazine and vice president of the United States Green Building Council Students.
Family Ties to UGA:
While I am the first of my family to attend UGA, they have all very quickly taken on the persona of proud Georgia Dawgs (which is really cool because both of my parents are originally from New York).
I chose to attend UGA because…
… it is THE school for me. It is in state, which is good. It has amazing agriculture and landscape architecture programs, which is great. When I came for an interview for a summer program while I was in high school, they took us to the Village Summit dining hall. It was like that scene from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” where they enter the chocolate room, and all of the kids go nuts! I really like food, and with all of the incredible options, especially the smoothie bar, it was just too much to pass up.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
I love to walk on crunchy leaves in the fall! It is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. Everyone has their own way of clearing their mind and de-stressing. Some people work out, take a nap, etc., but I step on crisp leaves. It can be incredibly therapeutic. Thinking about a new project? Crush some leaves. Got a test coming up? Crunch some leaves. Project almost due? Crush some leaves. Failed that test? Crunch some leaves. Miss the deadline on a project? Crush some leaves. It is pretty much a foolproof solution … until you run out of leaves.
When I have free time, I like…
… to tell my classmates really lame jokes. Actually, even when I am really busy, I really like jokes.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
I ALMOST blew up my house in the sixth grade … by accident. I had nitrous oxide, oxygen and carbon dioxide gas canisters in my house, and I did not know all of the proper safety precautions. I learned that the way I had the gases set up in my living room was extremely dangerous. Basically, a stray static charge combined with my shoddy craftsmanship when it comes to sealing hoses would have created a very big and very hot explosion. I changed my setup very soon after learning that.
My favorite place to study is…
… the Jackson Street Building. I almost live in it to be perfectly honest. I did a little quick math, and I think I spend, conservatively, about 65 hours per week there.
My favorite professor is…
It is not even fair to ask this question of me. I’ve had so many incredible professors that it is kind of amazing. I know that sounds cliché, but I truly believe with every fiber of my being that almost every professor has been my favorite. I know they are professionals. I know their job is to educate us for the future, but they make such an effort to be so much more than that. I have had multiple professors go above and beyond to help me, and it is hard for me to even come up with the words to describe how much I appreciate them for that. I know that answer will not satisfy everybody, but if you have an experience like mine, you will understand. They are truly amazing.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… a clone of myself. This interview has made me realize that I have a serious issue with self-reflection. It would be so much easier to spend the afternoon with a second me so that I could just write about “that good looking guy over there.”
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… get Pluto reinstated as a planet. It’s an issue I feel very strongly about.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… plant kudzu on Mars. Then I would televise the live feed of me shouting, “Who’s crazy now? I planted kudzu on MARS! Next I’m going to Pluto!” Then I would travel to Pluto and repeat the process ad nauseum. I might hold a few grudges …
After graduation, I plan to…
… take a really long nap. Like three days. I might sleepwalk to get water and relieve myself, but I am just going to take the opportunity to catch up on some much needed R.E.M. time. Then I will probably go try and be a (well-rested) productive member of society.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… staying up all night re-re-re-writing an English paper at around 2 a.m. and having the fire alarm go off in the dorm just as I finished sending it in. I went to Snelling for a very early breakfast after that.