Creating innovative uses for sensors in the agricultural industry
Note: Shira Bergman was a Keller Pathway Fellow in 2017/18. This interview was conducted in fall 2017.
Shira Bergman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Post-Harvest Production program at UC Davis. Bergman earned her B.S. at the University of Michigan. She is passionate about cross-disciplinary work due to her research experience within engineering and education.
In a nutshell, describe your project or venture.
I am exploring the effectiveness of sensors used in the agricultural industry.
What’s important about your research or project—and where do you hope to take it?
This project will help reduce food loss and energy consumption in the agricultural industries. I hope this project brings light on the gap between available technologies and technologies used in agriculture. I hope to propose and develop new sensors that meet the needs of the industry.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I am most passionate about the real-time applications of my work. I work directly with growers to understand their concerns and address them. The work is not purely theoretical, so I am able to see my work to fruition in the industry.
What was the most important thing you learned at the Entrepreneurship Academy?
I learned that you need to find a way to connect with whomever you are having a conversation with. You need to gear your language to your audience in order to effectively share your message.
What is the most unexpected advice you received from a mentor?
Not knowing everything is ok—whether it is regarding your research, career or personal life.
Do you have a project/venture in mind for the Big Bang! Business Competition? How do you expect participation in the Big Bang! workshops and competition to help you as an aspiring entrepreneur?
I would like to enter the competition with my sensor for the walnut industry; however, I am not sure if my idea is developed enough. I think the competition will help me see how others present their ideas and how I can improve my presentation skills. I think seeing other people’s passion will also inspire me to focus on my own work.
The Keller Pathway Fellowship Program specifically supports women, cross-disciplinary researchers and other underrepresented university-based entrepreneurs. Do you have any insight, experience or concern you’d like to share?
Many male mentors have told me that I would be eaten alive in the business world. However, seeing the women in my department that are so influential in their fields has inspired me to continue my passion of entrepreneurship. I also think it is important to understand that being a woman in some fields comes with a set of challenges, but that will not be a deterrent in my success.
How will your experiences as a Keller Pathway Fellow help you to change the world?
Being a Keller Pathway Fellow gives me access mentors, especially Barry Keller, who I would not have access to by “just” being a part of the College of Engineering. I will learn how to present my work to businesses or other entrepreneurs and commercialize products and practices that I believe will better the agricultural industry.