Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Yvonne Thompson

Research Associate, Crop Protection Genetics

Yvonne Thompson currently calls Salina, Kansas, her home, but she spent her early years growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, and later moved to Memphis, Tennessee, for high school.

She attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for her undergrad degree, where, as a golden lion, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Her Ph.D. in Crop Sciences was completed at the Washington State University — Go Cougs!


What drew you to The Land Institute?

The Land Institute’s passion for working for its mission was very apparent to me. They seem to take a different approach than other entities, with their mission being at the center of every research question, activity, and event.

What experiences are most relevant to your position at The Land Institute?

Many of my work experiences with fungi and nematodes, including developing screening systems to observe plant-pathogen interactions, are directly relevant to my position at The Land Institute. In addition, I will be exercising my skills in statistical genomics.

What’s most inspiring about your specific position at The Land Institute?

The opportunity to observe plant-pathogen interactions – I love seeing the effect that different fungi, viruses, and nematodes have on plants.

What would people never guess that you do as part of your role at The Land Institute?

I spend a lot of time tending to pathogens. It’s like I get to run a 5-star pathogen extended-stay luxury hotel where I cater to their every need and get them to grow as best they can before using them to make plants sick.

What else are you passionate about (outside of work)?!

I love spending time with my husband and kids going hiking, car camping, exploring parks, doing yoga, or relaxing at home drinking tea while assembling a 1000-piece puzzle.

If you were to write a book, what would it be about? 

I would write children’s books featuring people of color in the topics of self-love and acceptance, struggles of being exceptional in any way in predominantly white environments, or personal finances.

What’s your motto / favorite quote?

“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far go together” – African Proverb
This quote reminds me to reach back and pull someone up with you along each step of the way.

What were you like at age 10?

Sweet+, silly+±, strong*, loving*, intelligent*+±, creative¥, innovative¥, in charge€, serious about school and church€, and lastly assertive (aka mean) ¥ ∞ are all adjectives/phrases that describe me at age 10. I was an avid reader€ and had a strong interest in anything science related€, especially pertaining to how the human body worked. I also wanted to become an actress*, model¥, and doctor± when I grew up… I guess I got one of the three! 

    • Fact checked via mom*, dad€, grandmas±, aunts+, cousin∞, and sister¥
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