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Professor Helping to Pave the Way for Innovative Weed Science Management Practices

Friday, December 8, 2023

Dr. Swati Shrestha is an assistant professor in Weed Ecology, Biology and Genetics here at Oklahoma State University. She grew up in Nepal where the economy is dominated by agriculture, and decided to pursue a career in agriculture. Her intentions were to be a part of something rewarding that helps feed the world. To enhance her skills and knowledge about agriculture and agricultural technology, she completed her bachelor’s degree in agricultural science in Nepal. Soon after, Shrestha moved to Mississippi where she earned her master’s in plant and soil science at Mississippi State University.


Following her master’s degree, Shrestha worked for a short period of time as a research associate in Texas before finishing her Ph.D. in Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida in May 2023.


“Immediately after my Ph.D., I was lucky enough to land my dream job at Oklahoma State University and be a part of innovative research and teaching,” Shrestha said.


In her current position at Oklahoma State University, her research revolves around understanding biology, ecology, and genetics of weeds, with a primary emphasis on developing innovative and environmentally friendly weed management techniques.


“By harnessing the power of science, we aim to empower farmers and advance agriculture in a changing climate by better understanding the weeds and ultimately developing enhanced weed management practices,” she said.


Shrestha’s lab focuses on identifying herbicide resistant weeds in Oklahoma crops and determining the mechanism of resistance. It also strives to understand the efficacy of different weed management practices based on biology and genetics so that it is possible to recommend more economic and efficient weed control strategies to the growers.


“My research is crucial for advancing weed management strategies, ultimately boosting agricultural productivity and profitability,” she said. “Research has shown that weeds are highly adaptable and can modify according to management practices and changing climatic conditions.”


In these scenarios, Shrestha believes understanding weeds’ biology and genetics is the foundation to develop enhanced management strategies.


Moving forward, Shrestha plans to delve deeper into the power of innovative techniques like artificial intelligence and genomics exploring novel ways to enhance weed management practices. In teaching, she aims to incorporate cutting-edge research findings into the Principles of Weed Science course to keep students at the forefront of the field.


“I find immense joy in working with students because it allows me to inspire and empower the next generation of individuals entering my field,” Shrestha said.

“Witnessing students grasp complex concepts in weed science, develop critical thinking skills, and apply knowledge to real-world scenarios is incredibly rewarding.”


Shrestha also enjoys the dynamic interactions in her classroom that create a collaborative learning environment where she can share her enthusiasm for the subject, and, in turn, learn from the unique perspectives and questions of her students.


Shrestha’s passion for weed science stems from its direct impact on global food security. She believes that by understanding and managing weeds effectively, it will be possible to contribute significantly to ensure a sustainable and abundant food supply for the growing global population.


“Being at OSU allows me to be part of a community that values cutting-edge research, education, and practical application, aligning perfectly with my professional goals,” Shrestha said.


Her favorite part of working at OSU is the collaborative and innovative environment. The support from colleagues, access to facilities, and the opportunity to engage with motivated students make OSU an ideal place for her to thrive in her research and teaching endeavors.


When she is not researching or teaching, Shrestha greatly enjoys outdoors activities like hiking, and is a marathon runner.

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