Posted by Gretchen Kroh, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, Office of the Chief Scientist inResearch and Science

Dec 23, 2021


Years ago, I spent my days watching pecan roots change the color of solutions from clear to red as they reduced iron for uptake. It may not sound exciting, but that was the topic of my 2010 undergraduate research internship at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Children’s Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) in Houston, TX, under the direction of my mentor, ARS scientist Dr. Michael Grusak.

Dr. Grusak taught me to consider the link between the laboratory and society. His lab focused on improving crop mineral uptake, which could benefit society by increasing the nutritional value of crops for humans. The emphasis on this connection between plant biology and society stimulated my interest in plant biology and, eventually, led me to pursue my own Ph.D. in plant physiology and genetics.

Now, that summer job has led me back to USDA as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow through the American Association of the Advancement of Science in the USDA Office of the Chief Scientist, where I work directly to connect science to society. In my new role, I’m able to use science to inform agricultural policy making decisions by collaborating with others in USDA to develop science-based solutions to emerging issues, especially those related to improving agricultural resilience in response to climate change.

As an undergraduate intern, I was excited to contribute to ARS research, but never imagined that the roots I put down at CNRC would lead me back to USDA, supporting priorities that help advance American agriculture and aid in an all-of-government approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

ARS internship opportunities support future generations of the agricultural workforce. My internship introduced me to the importance of agricultural research and attracted me to a career where I could use science to inform agricultural policy.

Research and Science

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