Postdoctoral Researcher, Kernza®, Intermediate Wheatgrass
Sajal Sthapit lives in Henryville, Indiana, but home is in Pokhara in Nepal, a valley of beautiful lakes and mountains of the Annapurna range, where he was born and grew up. He holds a Bachelor of Art in Biology and a Minor in Philosophy from the College of Wooster in Ohio and a Master of Science in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland at College Park. Sajal also holds a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Washington State University.
What drew you to work at The Land Institute?
I first learned of The Land Institute’s work 12 years ago. I was researching the ways in which agriculture can contribute to mitigating climate change, which included switching to perennial grains to improve soil carbon sequestration. The Land Institute is an innovative research organization and I am drawn to its perennial and polyculture-focused approach to realizing a more sustainable food system.
What work experiences are most relevant to your position at The Land Institute?
My Ph.D. research work on genomics, imputation, and scripting is most relevant to my current postdoctoral researcher position as I will be building on these experiences to help with the domestication and improvement of Kernza® perennial grain. I also enjoyed working for two non-profit organizations (EcoAgriculture Partners in DC and LI-BIRD in Nepal) in research, outreach, and management roles and look forward to contributing and learning as a team member at The Land Institute.
What The Land Institute perennial crop do you look forward to eating most, and how would you prepare it?
I would like to try all of them at least once!
What’s one aspect of your life history that most people don’t know or wouldn’t expect?
After high school, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Engineering program to study computer engineering. One semester in I decided that it was not for me and switched to studying biology and philosophy at a small liberal arts college.
What’s most inspiring about your position at The Land Institute?
The project team I will be working with is the most inspiring thing about my current position.
What would people never guess that you do as part of your role at The Land Institute?
That most of my time is spent on a computer looking at the command lines and scripts.
What else are you passionate about (outside of work)?
I love cooking and photography.
If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
This may change with time, but right now I would say about agricultural biodiversity and place-based food systems.