Spotlight Story

Carrie Teiken
Bridging what's possible in the lab to what is practical in the field.

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Carrie Teiken is a graduate student in international agricultural development and plant pathology. She came to UC Davis after finishing her undergraduate degree in anthropology and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, West Africa, for two years.

What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?

Since I am working on two master’s, I have been involved in two separate research projects. Last year I was a recipient of the Horticulture CRSP Trellis Project, and was assigned to work with a small nongovernmental organization in Uganda to evaluate organic pesticide use on vegetable crops. This project is important because it helps resource-poor farmers increase their yields and also reduce their input costs. 

In plant pathology, I am working on a project involved with the Asian citrus psyllid, a small insect that vectors the deadly citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, which was recently found in California and has the potential to wipe out the citrus industry in the state. I am designing a risk assessment model on the sociological barriers to releasing a modified insect vector, and determining the best methods of employing the new technology and gaining public acceptance.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

I am passionate about researching solutions to devastating crop diseases, and being able to bridge the gap from what is possible in the lab to what is practical in the field. I also find it very rewarding to be able to improve livelihoods for farmers through small changes in crop management and/or application of new technologies.

How will the Business Development Fellows program help you to change the world?

The projects I have worked on overseas often led to increased yields, but many of the farmers lacked skills to find markets for their products and sustain their growing businesses. Additionally, my current research is focused on developing new technologies and adoption of the technology may be a barrier. I believe the Business Development program will help me to gain skills to foresee and address some of the obstacles that are often encountered in agricultural development projects. I also hope to learn how to successfully create projects that are need and market driven, and—most importantly—sustainable.

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