Plant Agriculture MSc
Tell us about you and how you got to be a grad student at Guelph...
My undergraduate degree was at the University of Guelph (main campus) in the Bachelors of Bio-Resource Management (BBRM) program with a major in Environmental Management (EM). The BBRM(EM) program was a small and newer program that encompassed many disciplines. It was very easy to find friends and classmates due to the small classroom sizes and you got to interact with your professors more than in a larger classroom setting. I also competed as a varsity wrestler during my undergraduate degree. Having competition and comradery outside of academia really helped balance my life and make my undergraduate experience all the better.
Why did you choose to complete your graduate studies in your program at the University of Guelph?
One of the reasons I chose to continue my education at Guelph was because I had a great relationship with my faculty advisor, Dr. Eric Lyons. I have been working with Dr. Lyons for a while and he really helped me grow as a researcher. It was through an independent study course in the final year of my undergrad where I gained experience conducting scientific research (which was later presented to industry and academia) that made me want to pursue a Master's. I chose to focus my Master's on agriculture (winter wheat) because I recognized the significant role that the agricultural sector has on Ontario and Canada's economy and food supply. In short, I wanted to help improve the agricultural sector. Another reason was that Guelph is my home and I have so many great connections here so the choice was simple.
About the research...
The thing that really excites me about the work I do is that it has potential to help a lot of people down the road. We identified mechanisms associated with winter survival of winter wheat in Ontario and help future research isolate variables and develop a new breed. A moment that stands out from my MSc is getting to conduct my own research and apply all the theory into practical studies. What drew me to an MSc with a focus on winter wheat was the need to help people and have an impact in the agricultural sector. During a meeting with Dr. Eric Lyons during my undergrad he proposed this topic and I haven't looked back since. The steps that led me to this path were maintaining high grades throughout my undergrad, working as a researcher, building connections with faculty at the U of G, and keeping an open mind.
How do you think your research can potentially improve life?
The research I conducted will help Ontario grain farmers, industry, and governments in regions that experience a lot of winter wheat loss due to low-temperature flooding and ice encasement (LTFIC) events. I aimed to correlate morphological and physiological traits associated with superior survival under LTFIC for future screening in a breeding program.
A bit about your advisor...
Dr. Eric Lyons mentored me throughout my undergraduate degree to be successful in any path I choose. He cares about his students and wants to see them succeed. I am forever grateful to him for all the help and opportunities he has provided.
Any advice for prospective grad students considering U of G?
Take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves and don't be afraid to work your way up. From the start of my undergrad to the end, I never fully knew what I wanted (I am still deciding) but I kept an open mind and worked hard to earn various work/research positions. Through these experiences, I was able to narrow my focus and pursue grad school. Also, gain experience in different courses and work positions so that you get a better understanding of your interests and what career opportunities may lie ahead.
Tell us something about you, beyond being a grad student...
I am a first-generation immigrant that came to Canada in the early 2000s due to civil unrest in Afghanistan. I am also still on the Varsity Wrestling team.