A question & answer session to get to know the 2023 GG ScholarĀ  Hannah Pil, 1st year graduate student in the Genetics Department.

What aspect of genetics and/or genomics most interests you?

The most interesting part is seeing that link between genotype and phenotype. I love seeing how changes in the genome can tangibly create an outcome that I can observe or measure, and I love that we are developing ways to manipulate that ourselves!

What (or Who) influenced you to go into your field of study?

This is pretty silly (and people usually laugh), but I actually got into genetics because I just liked punnett squares. However, after exploring the field further, I found the expansive realm of genetics and how it extends into biology and other fields very fascinating. In spite of this, I still get very excited when I get to experience simple Mendelian inheritance. We grow a short-statured mutant maize line that segregates 1:3, and it makes me happy seeing an F2 of this population planted and observing these textbook genetics concepts in real life.

Who or what do you hope benefits from your research?

I hope to benefit people like you and me! One of the main goals I am aiming for during my research is to impact climate change by making improvements to agriculture.

How can your research be used to inform decision makers (e.g. policy makers, resource managers, health practitioners, K12 educators, etc etc)?

Policy makers play a key role in shaping agricultural practices and rural development. My research in maize research can provide them with data-driven solutions to address challenges such as yield gaps, pest and disease management, and soil nutrition. Government officials can incentivize farmers to adopt better practices through subsidies or educational programs.

What do you think is the most pressing issue or problem in your field of study?

I think there is a bridge between farmers and researchers where researchers could do a better job at understanding the mentality and lifestyle of farmers to better allow the adoption of novel practices and subsequently allow big changes to be made to prevent climate change and other big issues.

How do you expect the GG Scholars program to impact your work?

I have always excelled when in a group of driven and determined people to help challenge and motivate me to push further. I’m excited to see what everyone else achieves, and I know that my fellow GG scholars and encouraging faculty will inspire me to work hard. The diversity in our research will also definitely serve me well.

How would you describe your research interests to a 3rd grader?

I want to grow the best corn ever to and give it to people to help them grow the best corn ever too! Hopefully I can help feed more people by doing this.

What’s your dream job?

I don’t have one at the moment, but I would love to continue doing research! I am interested in staying in academia.