Compost Research University Scholarships

The next time to apply for a scholarship will be February 2025.

The Compost Research & Education Foundation offers annual scholarships to university students to assist with their compost research projects. The scholarship is available for undergraduate through PhD students studying at a college or university in the United States. The scholarship is for $4,000, and also includes an invitation to present research findings at a US Composting Council Annual Conference during a CREF research session. Travel expenses are included and are in addition to the $4,000 scholarship amount.

The goal of this scholarship is to bring assistance to students interested in compost research and to spark interest in future careers in the composting industry.

The research project for this scholarship must be ongoing during the term of the grant and be research in the fields of composting and compost use. More specifically, the ideal candidate will have interest in improving the compost process and the application and the utilization of finished compost to increase drought tolerance, soil nutrient content, reducing erosion and water pollution, and increasing carbon storage in soils to combat climate change.

Before applying for a scholarship, please read carefully the Scholarship Requirements. Applications will not be accepted if the two attachments are not completed correctly.


2024/2025 University Compost-Research Scholarship Winners

Kefang Nie is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Population Health and Reproduction at the University of California, Davis. Her research project will investigate the microbial contamination and dynamics in commercial composting facilities and under documented home and urban composting units across California. In her project, fecal coliform concentration and presence of Salmonella spp. in finished compost will serve as direct indicators of the operation in these composting facilities. Furthermore, the project will look to see if the presence of other foodborne pathogens in composting facilities expands understanding of microbial dynamics within these composting facilities. This knowledge will not only inform stakeholders of compost distribution regarding of regions, feedstocks, processing approaches, and other various factors, but also provide valuable insights into the potential risks associated with diverse composting practices.


Swikar Karki is a PhD student in Plant Science at the University of Maine, working with the Plant Physiology Lab and the Biomass Energy Lab. The topic of his research project is Investigating the Efficacy of Compost and Biochar for Sustainable Wild Blueberry Cultivation His research will focus on the impact of compost and biochar applications in wild blueberries in Maine. The study aims to understand how the combination of compost and biochar can improve soil properties, plant health, and crop productivity under drought conditions. Two representative wild blueberry farms are part of the study. Using a randomized complete block design, the study will include treatments such as biochar, biochar-compost mixtures, and compost. Soil samples will be analyzed for pH, nutrient content, organic matter, and soil fungal diversity. Additionally, crop physiological performance including water use, photosynthesis, and yield will be assessed. The study hypothesizes that the combination of compost and biochar enhances soil health, nutrient availability, and fungal activity, supporting plant health and increasing yield stability. This research aims to alleviate the impact of drought on wild blueberry production by addressing soil health and enhancing moisture retention. Expected outcomes include optimized soil health, increased crop growth, and stable yields, promoting sustainable agricultural practices. These findings will offer practical recommendations for wild blueberry growers, demonstrating the effectiveness of innovative soil management practices.


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