A question & answer session to get to know the 2023 GG Scholar Laide Rasaki, 1st year graduate student in the Crop Science Program.

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

Although I’m not a laboratory enthusiast, my interest is in comparative and functional genomics—exploring the functions of genes and non-coding sequences, which involves analyzing genomic sequences, comparing them, and then applying the insights gained to enhance breeding objectives.

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

During my undergraduate studies, my fascination with genomics sparked after reading articles about nutrigenomics and its possibilities in livestock and human health. Eager to delve deeper, I took genetics courses seriously. My interest grew even more during an internship with the forage breeding unit of the International Livestock Research Institute in Nigeria, where I witnessed firsthand the significant impact of environmental conditions on forage growth, thus fueling my passion for genomics.

Who or what do you hope benefits from your research?

I am sincerely eager to gain advanced knowledge and apply it to research that will help achieve food security globally through improved plant productivity. More specifically, my research will greatly benefit plant breeders and peasant farmers in developing communities.

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

My research centers on developing genomic and computational tools aimed at efficiently achieving breeding objectives. These tools, designed for global use by breeders, agricultural development agencies, and plant research institutes, will help them accelerate crop improvement and various breeding goals with optimal speed and resource efficiency.

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

In terms of the practice of crop production, I will mention climate change and the marginalization of arable land as the most pressing issues, and how these issues impact the world’s crop-growing ability. Regarding expertise in crop science, the current elusiveness of a stable solution to the impact of unpredictable climate change on crop production is also very serious.

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

I anticipate that the GG Scholars program will provide me with both theoretical and practical insights to address challenges in my field. Additionally, I look forward to gaining access to experts in relevant areas, facilitating valuable interdisciplinary collaborations—an essential aspect of today’s scientific landscape.

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

I work on creating special tools using computers to help make crop production easier and better. These tools will be like helpers that make it easier and faster for farmers to grow plants the way they want them.

What’s your dream job?

I would like to work in the plant breeding research and development unit of leading crop improvement companies or global agencies.