“Get the roots, Jigar, if you want tasty tomatoes feed the roots -- if you want to kill the weeds, take out the roots”, my grandfather said slowly. Growing up, my summer vacations were spent under the hot sun with my grandparents in their backyard garden. It was my job to help them with their yardwork, and at the time, it felt like punishment. Many years ago, my grandparents were framers. They held a modest piece of land in a very fertile region of India; however, my grandfather strongly believed in education and wanted more for my dad and aunt, so he decided to move to the United States. But his lust for agriculture never failed, and even though we are not farmers anymore, I was going to learn how to plow, sow, and reap. This meant blisters from shoveling, burns from the sun, and stings from countless numbers of bugs. At this time, I was never interesting in gardening, instead my hobbies surrounded electronics, computers, and coding. Only later did working in the garden become my favorite summer hobby.
Science took something I hated and transformed it into my passion, and hopefully, career. Science initially became an interest of mine when I was in high school. Influence by great chemistry and biology teachers in high school spurred my interest to pursue an undergraduate degree in biochemistry at North Carolina State University. Empowered by the resources of a large university, I enjoyed the benefits of generous professors and learned the ins and outs of research. My undergraduate experiences have left me with a great respect and passion for science.
Undergraduate Research Experience:
I began my first research project in an undergraduate research training program under the direction of Dr. Jose Ascencio-Ib...
... middle of paper ...
...rch as a tool to fight malnutrition and hunger.
The US has done a great job empowering scientists and innovative solutions in agriculture; however, other less fortunate populations urgently need reliable sources of food and methods to fight malnutrition and only sufficient research would allow this. I hope to use a PhD to establish a career within an organization that is working to create a healthier community in the world’s poorest areas. Agriculture has always been important for our society, and now with a growing population and limitations on arable land, change is desperately needed. This fellowship would grant me the opportunity to work toward creating a career in plant science and also fund travel to poorer parts of the world to talk to farmers and further my research. As my grandfather would say, if we want to solve this problem we need to “get to the roots”.
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