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Graduate Student Invested in the future of Global Food Security

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Originally from Nepal, plant and soil sciences graduate student Sanju Shrestha has been interested in global food security and wants make a difference in the world. Seeking further academic opportunities, she decided to continue her studies abroad and joined Oklahoma State University in fall 2021 to pursue her master’s degree.


“I am currently in the final stages of completing my master’s program and will be graduating this summer,” she said.


Shrestha has had life-changing experiences that have shaped her journey. Growing up in Nepal, where educational opportunities were limited, Shrestha said she was driven by her passion for global food security to step out of her comfort zone and immerse herself in a new cultural and academic environment at OSU. She was drawn to OSU after finding a program that aligned with her interests, as well as the university’s aesthetic appeal and its international-friendly atmosphere which promoted personal growth.


“This experience not only allowed me to grow personally and become more independent, but also exposed me to diverse perspectives through interactions with a global community at OSU,” Shrestha said. “These experiences have molded me into a resilient and determined individual with a strong desire to contribute meaningfully to the fields of soil science and agriculture.”


Shrestha’s research project investigates the complex interactions between nutrient availability, microbial activity and soil health within the context of long-term fertilizer treatments.


“The study focuses on understanding the decomposition kinetics of added glucose in soils subjected to century-long fertilizer treatment and winter wheat cultivation, identifying the limiting nutrient influencing microbial activity, and examining the impact of long-term fertilizer treatment and carbon amendment on soil microbial community composition,” Shrestha said.


Her research aims to advance understanding of soil health dynamics and contribute valuable insights for optimizing agricultural practices, nutrient management strategies and some efforts on minimizing global warming.


Her favorite aspect of graduate school is the opportunity to engage in research and collaborate with others.


“Meeting new people and sharing ideas, particularly in the library, which serves as the heart of academic discourse at OSU, has been a rewarding experience for me,” she says. “Seeing how proper nutrient management and sustainable farming practices can greatly impact global food production and the environment inspires me to continue my research.”


Upon graduating, Shrestha plans to pursue a Ph.D. in the same department, while her focus shifts toward computational statistics and plant science.

“I am fascinated by the potential of exploring how environmental factors—such as temperature and moisture—impact agronomic traits like flowering time, plant height and ultimately crop yield, which are crucial for global food production,” she says.


Her Ph.D. research will be centered around high-throughput phenotyping of wheat.


Being from the mountainous country of Nepal, Shrestha has hiked many short mountains back home. She also loves to travel, taste exotic foods, is a good cook, and has a deep love for painting.

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