Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Sydney Schiffner

Research Technician, Perennial Oilseeds

Sydney Schiffner originally hails from Lake Park, MN. Her parents live around Detroit Lakes, MN, and that is where she considers home. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, with a minor in Statistics in 2015, and a Master of Science degree in Applied Plant Sciences with an Agronomy focus in 2018. Both degrees were attained from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. During graduate school, she studied the appropriate planting densities, nitrogen rates, and seeding dates for silphium (a perennial oilseed) production over multiple years of cultivation. She also examined morphology of the plant as it grows over time. Read Sydney’s “Interview with a Plant Scientist”.
Watch Sydney explain some of her current work.


What’s most inspiring about your specific position at TLI?

I really enjoy working with potential perennial crop species, as well as learning new things about ecology that I haven’t really thought of within the context of contributing to agricultural systems.

What would people never guess that you do as part of your role at TLI?
Lots of staring at seeds, watching plants grow, and a surprising amount of time staring through a microscope.

What drew you to work at TLI?
Assisting in developing perennial crops for the future is exciting, and I’m hoping to contribute to the work being done, but also hoping to learn a lot while working here that can improve my personal skill set for the future.

What’s one aspect of your life history that most people don’t know or wouldn’t expect?
Although I grew up within a farming community in a small Minnesotan town, I did not grow up on a farm myself.

What else are you passionate about (outside of work)?
I love reading and watching popular TV shows, as well as playing video games! I also enjoy listening to music and podcasts, as there’s quite a few out there.

If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
It would either be about drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race, or a type of metanalysis of how ecology and agriculture have interacted and clashed from the past and into the present.

Support the work of Sydney and others at The Land Institute with a donation.


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