Hanna Kahl: Keller Pathway Fellowship Alumna
Farmer-focused technological advances
Note: This interview was conducted in fall 2018. Hanna Kahl was a Keller Pathway Fellows in 2018/19.
Hanna Kahl is a PhD. student in entomology. In her research she identifies trends and patterns involving citrus pests in the San Joaquin Valley by exploring a large database of data from actual citrus fields and conducting field experiments to validate and further understand these trends and patterns. She is interested in integrating relevant technological advances into agricultural practices in a farmer-focused way.
In a nutshell, describe your project or venture.
My project focuses on developing tools that allow for the generation and synthesis of data gathered from crop consultants, farmers and manipulated experiments to improve crop pest management.
I am passionate about applying my experiences working at the interface of agriculture, ecology and data science towards improving global food security.
What’s important about your research or project—and where do you hope to take it?
Arthropod pests can consume up to 20 percent of crops worldwide with an estimated value of $470 billion. With the growing human population and the shrinking number of farms, it is increasing essential to find innovative tools to increase food production. In order to create products that are more usable and scale-able, we need a new approach that fosters communication between farmers, crop consultants and agricultural researchers about what works and does not work in managing pests and allows for the diversity of food production systems from organic to conventional and from small urban gardens to large commercial farms. I hope my project can promote record-keeping and integrate perspectives of the diverse members of the agricultural workforce on best pest management practices in order to enhance agricultural sustainability and productivity.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I am passionate about applying my experiences working at the interface of agriculture, ecology and data science towards improving global food security. I enjoy interacting with farmers, being out in agricultural fields surveying insects and the challenge of trying to understand and explain wonderfully multi-faceted agricultural systems.
What is the most unexpected advice you received from a mentor?
You just have to keep trying things. Thinking about it only gets you so far.
Do you plan to participate in the Big Bang! Business Competition or “just” the workshops? How do you expect this to help you as an aspiring entrepreneur?
I do plan to participate in the Big Bang! I expect that this experience will make me more knowledgeable about the steps that go into starting a business or nonprofit and make me more comfortable with thinking about ways to translate research into business ideas.
How will your experiences as a Keller Pathway Fellow help you to change the world?
I believe my experiences as a Keller Pathway Fellow will assist me in designing more user-friendly tools for growers to use, allowing me to contribute to my larger goal of helping farmers increase yields and profits while reducing risks to the environment.