Derrick Platero

November 2023 – Graduate
Navajo Nation
Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle, NM

Scholarship: Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF)
School: Iowa State University 
Degree: Soil Science
GPA: 4.0  

Derrick is a first-year Ph.D. student at Iowa State University, specializing in soil science with a focus on soil erosion and watershed modeling through machine learning and AI. A recipient of the prestigious NSF grant, his current research aims to validate soil erosion models across Iowa. Derrick completed his master’s in soil science at the University of Georgia in May 2022, following an undergraduate degree in the same field, with a minor in geological sciences, from New Mexico State University. His academic journey began at San Juan College, where he earned an associate’s degree in biology in 2016.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Derrick serves as the graduate representative for Iowa State University’s DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) organization. In this role, he welcomes new and returning students, fostering a sense of community and belonging on campus. While at the University of Georgia, Derrick volunteered with the Indian Student Association, coordinating events like Diwali and Holi. Lacking a Native American student organization, he bridged gaps by connecting with international and domestic students and contributing to various cultural events. While at San Juan College, Derrick was an active member of the All Nations United student club, aimed at promoting Native American awareness. Notably, he helped organize the annual San Juan College Pow-Wow and round dances in Farmington, New Mexico, events that drew attendees from as far as Canada and Colorado. Derrick finds immense joy in uniting communities through these cultural events.

Derrick aims to complete his Ph.D. by 2028. He aspires to apply his expertise in soils, agriculture, geology, and hydrology at tribal universities. His ultimate goal is to collaborate with fellow scientists to address Native American issues related to water and soil erosion, as many reservations urgently require sustainable solutions for preservation.


Want to be our next Student of the Month? Apply here

Share to social media

More To Explore