International Women’s Day: Dr Andreea Stroia tells her career story
To celebrate International Women’s Day Dr Andreea Stroia, CHAP’s Innovation Content and Outreach Coordinator at CHAP, walks us through the focus of her doctoral studies and highlights some valuable lessons learned.
Having completed my undergraduate degree in microbiology, I had the opportunity to take part in some exciting research studies. It was during one such project that I came across my future PhD and a newly found passion for agriculture.
In brief, I investigated the effects of a well-known herbicide, glyphosate, when applied to a plant. To achieve this, I collaborated with plant pathologists and biochemists which in turn, provided me with a complete skillset to obtain a snapshot of a plant’s metabolic spectrum when treated with glyphosate. In doing so, I was successful in addressing part of the data and knowledge gap existent at the time. Throughout this initial part of my doctoral journey I learned that collaboration is key and without it, innovation and discovery cannot progress.
To this end, I continued to use the power of collaboration to conduct the second part of my project. Together with a team of brilliant engineers, we were able to devise a prototype capable of detecting glyphosate in water samples. This sensing device was portable, cheap and able to rapidly provide an accurate reading to the end-user.
While working on this particular part of my project, it became apparent that communication between teams was essential. There was a need to understand each other’s “languages” in order to deliver a successful outcome. As a result, each side had to deconstruct information and adapt it in a such a way that we could reach an understanding and construct the glyphosate biosensing device.
Towards the end of my doctoral degree, I gained a deep understanding of how complex the landscape for agrochemical products truly is. Each year, more and more herbicides, fungicides and insecticides are withdrawn from the market, leaving farmers and growers with fewer alternatives to manage pests and diseases. This pressing challenge played a crucial role in my decision to pursue a career in agri-tech, with CHAP.
Overall, my doctoral journey with the University of Glasgow enabled me to access research areas and learn pivotal lessons for my current journey in the agri-tech realm. In the end, I believe collaboration and appropriate communication are part of the answer to driving the agriculture sector forward and help it meets its net zero goals.
Dr Andreea Stroia is based at The James Hutton Institute in Dundee.