Faculty 360 | Sindhu Jagadamma

Faculty 360 is an all-around look at a UT AgResearch faculty member. In this issue we feature Sindhu Jagadamma, assistant professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science. Jagadamma joined UTIA in April 2016. Her research primarily focuses on identifying best soil and nutrient management options for sustainable food production. She is a broadly trained soil scientist who is capable of dealing with soil, water, and environmental quality issues from molecular-scale to field-scale. Jagadamma received her PhD in soil science from the Ohio State University in 2009. Before joining UT, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and UTís Civil and Environmental Engineering department. She received ORNL Environmental Science Divisionís outstanding postgraduate researcher award in 2013. Jagadamma is a native of India and enjoys spending time with family and friends in her spare time.
Something that gets my brain going is when I think about how I can help students achieve their career goals. Often students are unaware of different career paths in their field of study and how to tune their education and training to pursue those options. I was in a similar situation, too. Over the years, I learned that it is very important to set a career goal in advance and work towards achieving that goal. For example, in the field of Soil Science, there are various career opportunities available in government, industries, universities, and national laboratories. There are also possibilities to be self-employed or become a consultant. Students may want to approach their graduate education differently in order to secure one of these positions. I am passionate about working with students to help them design a tailored plan to acquire the necessary skills and other qualifications needed to achieve their professional goals.

A favorite part of my job is making my own daily work schedule and prioritizing my tasks. Before joining in the role of assistant professor, I was unsure how I would manage my time wisely and efficiently, but now I enjoy crafting my own daily schedule by integrating several different tasks including manuscript/proposal writing, reading articles, meetings, laboratory work, and networking. Though I havenít hired any graduate students yet, I am sure I will enjoy mentoring students too.

When Iím not at work,I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my family. My husband is also a scientist in a field very related to mine, so we spend quite a lot of time talking about what is happening in our field of research and the excitements and challenges in our research. We have two children, who are sixteen and seven years old. They both compete with each other to steal most of our evening hours and weekends. I also enjoy cooking and visiting friends.

In the overall field of agricultural science, I believe the most pressing issue is producing enough food for the growing world from the limited farmlands available without adversely affecting our environment. The input intensive crop production strategy adopted in the past had created serious environmental concerns including water availability and quality, land degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions. A lot of progress has been made in recent years in terms of increasing or maintaining productivity by practicing best soil and crop management practices. However, more work needs to be done in order to find regionally adaptable best land management strategies. My research program will focus on this key area by implementing interdisciplinary collaborative research with UTIA community.

If you raided my bookshelf, youíd find mostly nothing because I try not to keep a lot of hardcover books. I prefer electronic copies of journals and books. My coworkers often comment on my empty office desk and bookshelves! However, I do have a few books, and my favorite one is the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi.

A profound change in my field that will be coming in the next 10 years is is big data-driven scientific research for problem solving. Technologies are now available for mapping fields with GPS coordinates, for monitoring planting and harvesting operations, and for precisely applying farm inputs. Massive datasets generated by such remote sensing and digital technologies create new challenges for both research professionals and farming communities. The research professionals need to find a way to synchronize big data-driven research and lab/field experiment-driven research to address sustainability and resiliency issues of agroecosystems. The farming community needs a simple platform to transform this massive data in a timely and usable manner. It is exciting to visualize modern farms, with computers and sensors playing a significant role in improving the quality of life of the hard-working farmers.

Something that excites me about being part of the UTIA community is the opportunity to participate in collaborative research with other disciplines of agricultural sciences. I have been interacting with faculty members in other departments including Animal Science, Plant Sciences, and Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries to explore possibilities for cross-disciplinary research. I am also excited about the opportunity to interact with extension professionals to understand the real-world problems farmers face so I can work on research-based solutions to such problems. The opportunities to get involved in international agricultural research through UTIAís International Programs also make me proud to be a part of the UTIA community.