Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024

The AgriFoRwArdS CDT are always keen to shout about the fantastic people that make up our community, but during the week of International Women’s Day (8th March) each year, we like to particularly highlight some of the incredible women who are part of AgriFoRwArdS.  

This week is no different, we will hear from just some of the inspirational women in our community, as they tell us more about why they chose their subject, why they love science, and the exciting points of their career so far. 

Stay tuned every day this week! Find the first instalment below.

Dr Reshmi Gaju

We start the week by talking to Senior Lecturer in Crop Science, Dr Reshmi Gaju. Reshmi is a wheat physiologist focusing on using high throughput techniques to screen for phenotypic traits to improve wheat yield. She worked at the University of Lincoln as part of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT), and Lincoln Agri-Robotics (LAR). Before joining the University of Lincoln, she worked at the University of Nottingham and the Australian National University (ANU) as a research fellow. Her specific research interests include crop physiology, nitrogen use efficiency, water use efficiency, photosynthesis, and respiration.

Find out more about Reshmi’s journey into science, and her career so far below:

What was your inspiration for becoming involved in science, and crop science in particular?

I have always loved plants, I guess it started with my dad gifting me a potted plant when I was around 8, and he was a keen gardener. I used to spend hours with him when he was tending to his flower beds, and I was fascinated to see the plants grow from a tiny seedling to produce flowers and fruits.

My curiosity for plants translated to crops as I went on to study biology and agriculture later on, and now I am a crop scientist conducting research on various crops to understand how we can increase productivity. Our planet is facing a looming crisis in trying to feed an increasing human population and we have to find ways to increase crop yield. One of the ways is using novel technologies to rapidly screen for various traits or characters that can speed up the development of new varieties that can not only have higher yield but are also resilient to adverse climatic conditions as extreme weather conditions become more frequent.

What excites you most about your work in science?

My work is about combining the conventional methods and developing new phenotyping tools for rapid screening of traits, which is an exciting avenue forward in crop science, and it gives immense satisfaction to know that my work has tangible impact in terms of food productivity and will benefit the farming community.

What advise would you give to someone who wants to work in crop science, agriculture, or science in general?

Working in the agricultural sector is both exciting and challenging and requires patience as any crop research is subjected to the vagaries of weather. However, if you are passionate about what you do, you will pursue and never give up.

My advice to anyone working in STEM is to have the fire in your belly for your work and keep abreast of new developments happening in your field so that the fire never dies down. Interacting with your peers and meeting people working in the same field will fuel up th interest and provide opportunities for collaboration, which is important for professional development for those working in STEM.

What is the most memorable moment in your career so far?

I have met some very inspirational people who have helped me progress in life, but the most memorable moment was meeting Dr Norman Borlaug (father of the Green Revolution), the only agricultural scientist to date who has won a Nobel Prize. He was very encouraging, dynamic and a proponent of women working in crop research.


Thank you to Reshmi for taking the time to speak with us and share her experiences of science and the agricultural sector.