Gracie Valdez explains how traveling around the world helped her to want to pursue a career in international agricultural development and trade.
Growing up, the question of the day often started with “why” or “how” because I loved discovering things. Though my specific interests morphed from archaeology to geology to biology, I knew I wanted to be a scientist since the 5th grade. In college, I chose to study biology, which exposed me to many different aspects of the field. College was the springboard that sharpened my focus and led me to becoming the ecosystem ecologist I am today. Recognizing National College Signing Day, I hope that today’s inbound students consider studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects to help meet our future agricultural challenges. Read more »
Students from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. schools try out different scientific careers like ARS bee researcher at the White House Day at the Lab.
“Whoa! Do you have bees in there?” is not something the Secret Service asks every day, even of scientists when they come to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which sits next to the White House West Wing and houses most of the staff offices.
It was just a month ago that agronomist Eton Codling, from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Crop Systems and Global Change Lab, and I, research leader of the ARS Bee Research Lab, were on our way into the White House. We were there to represent USDA at the White House Day at the Lab to give young students a taste of exciting science careers they may never have considered or even known about otherwise. Read more »
Carrie Harmon works at University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science labs with the National Plant Diagnostic Network. Photo courtesy of Ray Hammerschmidt
With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the National Plant Diagnostic Network has grown into an internationally respected consortium of plant diagnostic laboratories dedicated to enhancing agricultural security by protecting health and productivity of plants in agricultural and natural ecosystems.
Dr. Ray Hammerschmidt, President of the National Plant Diagnostic Network, discusses this partnership and the benefits all Americans receive in the following guest post:
Superheroes really do work among us. But, instead of capes and cowls and ice palaces and caves, they are often found in a lab at a public university or state agriculture department, wearing lab coats and working over a microscope.
These men and women work daily to protect our communities and crops from dangerous pests and pathogens. They are plant pathologists, entomologists, nematologists, weed scientists, and other plant scientists who work diligently to mitigate the impact of endemic, emerging, and exotic pathogens and pests that attack agricultural, forest, and landscape plants in the United States. Read more »
NRCS offers conservation webinars year-round. Hosting, automated reminders and CEU accreditation; made possible by our conservation partner, Southern Regional Extension Forestry. (Click for a larger version)
Conservation science is a broad, deep field that’s growing all the time. To help people brush up on conservation practices and learn about new technologies, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers hundreds of free conservation webinars from its online Science and Technology Training Library.
Available live or on-demand, these webinars also count as Continuing Education Units for many different certifying organizations and programs. Read more »
Hydrologist Randy Julander has been managing Utah’s snow survey program for the past 24 years.
“To say I enjoy my job is an understatement,” said Hydrologist Randy Julander. “Monday is my favorite day of the week, because I get to go back to work.”
As the Snow Survey Data Collection Officer in Utah, Julander’s job is a mix of science, adventure and artistry. He weaves information from data. “Data are just numbers on a page; but information – now that’s something meaningful, something that informs decision makers,” he explained. Read more »
A variable-rate center-pivot irrigation system in a field in Bushland, Texas, equipped with infrared thermometers that collect temperature data and a neutron gauge to measure soil water content. High-resolution data such as these are used by scientists to optimize crop performance in specific environmental conditions.
For nearly 400 years, Thanksgiving has been a time in North America when families come together to celebrate food and agriculture. As we reflect on yet another year, agricultural scientists at USDA continue to keep a wary eye on the future. At the end of what may be the hottest year on record, a period of drought has threatened the heart of one of the most important agricultural production zones in the United States. Water demands are increasing, and disease and pest pressures are continually evolving. This challenges our farmers’ ability to raise livestock and crops. How are science and technology going to address the problems facing our food supply?
To find answers, agricultural scientists turn to data—big data. Genomics, the field of science responsible for cataloging billions of DNA base pairs that encode thousands of genes in an organism, is fundamentally changing our understanding of plants and animals. USDA has already helped to fund and collect genomes for 25 crop plant species, important livestock and fish species, and numerous bacteria, fungi, and insect species related to agricultural production. Other USDA-supported research projects expanding these efforts are currently underway, including genome sequencing of 1,000 bulls and 5,000 insect species in the i5K initiative. But classifying and understanding DNA is only part of the story. Read more »