Agriculture has all the time been in Brianna Posadas’s blood.
Her household immigrated to america by way of the Bracero Program from Mexico and her abuelos and tios have been subject staff.
“I understand how essential agriculture is to feeding individuals on this nation and the way my household has contributed,” Posadas mentioned. “I needed to work in an trade the place I’d have the ability to assist these individuals and to lift consciousness of how meals finally ends up on the desk.”
To assist obtain that, Posadas joined the division of agricultural, group, and management training at Virginia Tech in September as a prestigious 2020 Computing Innovation Fellow — one in all solely 59 chosen throughout the nation.
Kim Niewolny, affiliate professor within the division of agricultural, management, and group training and director of the Middle for Meals Techniques and Neighborhood Transformation, will mentor Posadas, who will work on a wide range of grants along with instructing programs within the division of agricultural, group, and management training, working with the SmartFarm Innovation Community and Virginia Cooperative Extension.
“Dr. Posadas brings a wealth of interdisciplinary data and expertise to check the usage of culturally related participatory design for growing reasonably priced and versatile robotic assistive applied sciences with farmers with mobility disabilities,” Niewolny mentioned. “Having Dr. Posadas on the staff will solely strengthen the impacts we hope to make to make sure the protection, wellness, and sustainability of farmers and farmworkers by way of the lens of participatory design.”
The pair will work collectively on a number of grant initiatives, together with the U.S. Division of Agriculture Nationwide Institute of Meals and Agriculture-funded AgrAbility Virginia program, Nationwide Science Basis “HARVEST” Analysis Coordination Community, and the Inexpensive Robotics to Support Farmers with Mobility Limitations Partnership in Innovation Nationwide Science Basis-funded challenge.
Posadas’ household historical past impressed her to pursue agricultural organic engineering and she or he was the primary Latina scholar to earn a Ph.D. from the College of Florida’s laptop science division. She’s additionally the primary member of her household to earn a Ph.D.
“I’m honoring the sacrifices of my household,” Posadas mentioned. “Since my work is in agriculture, I really feel like I’m honoring my household historical past with my chosen profession path. Getting an training was a requirement for me, and I needed to construct upon the inspiration that my household laid for me up to now couple of generations. Being the primary Latina Ph.D. scholar to graduate from this program is an honor, however extra importantly, I hope that it’s one thing others may even see themselves doing sooner or later.”
Throughout her graduate program, Posadas studied agriculture and consumer expertise and consumer design. In her dissertation, she targeted on utilizing a crowdsourcing platform to assemble knowledge on lamb’s quarters, an annual wild edible that may assist restore wholesome vitamins to poor high quality soil.
In precision agriculture — additionally known as satellite tv for pc farming or site-specific crop administration — there’s distant sensing knowledge, the imagery, and the satellite tv for pc knowledge, however somebody is required on the bottom to substantiate that one thing is the place it’s anticipated. For instance, if an algorithm was created to find out the place all of the oak bushes are in america are, it might be finished with photographs and knowledge, however an individual is required on the bottom to see if the oak bushes are literally there.
That’s labor-intensive. Posadas is finding out easy methods to get common individuals to take part in actions like this, decreasing the labor overhead wanted to finish this job.
“It requires lots of people and is dear — there’s no method round that. How can we get individuals to take part? I see it as a approach to get individuals extra keen on meals programs and get them extra keen on why sure issues are grown and what can develop of their area,” Posadas mentioned.
In working with Extension and AgrAbility, Posadas hopes to affect agricultural expertise coverage, significantly in regard to knowledge assortment from farms.
“Oftentimes, knowledge is being collected with out the farmer’s data,” Posadas mentioned. “Tractors, for instance, can have a turn-key coverage, which implies that as quickly as it’s turned on, the consumer has agreed to the info assortment. This knowledge is used to create algorithms and create their software program earlier than turning it round to promote again to the growers.”
Info that’s collected contains GPS coordinates.
“If the info will not be protected, it might have some destructive penalties for the growers. If it falls within the fallacious arms, GPS coordinates are, clearly, very simply traced again to their origin, probably exposing the farm, who owns it, and extra,” Posadas mentioned. “That product wouldn’t have existed with out the farmer’s info that was taken, and proper now on there aren’t any federal legal guidelines to guard agricultural knowledge.”
To assist increase involvement with agricultural coverage, Posadas is making a course in agricultural, group, management training that may cowl coverage of this nature. To encourage future agriculture leaders to put money into coverage and associated coverage selections, Posadas hopes to have every technology make agriculture higher.
To Posadas, household is essential, and it’s guiding her profession to assist navigate the way forward for agriculture.