Huirong Gao, Research Scientist - Corteva Agriscience™
I like to go for walks whenever I have a chance, either a short walk in our neighborhood or a long hike on trails during weekends with my husband. I also practice yoga regularly. Otherwise, I enjoy reading, connecting with family and friends, and watching my favorite TV program – “The Voice.”
Tell us about your journey/career path that led you to your current role at Corteva.
I grew up in a small village in the countryside and developed a fascination with plants as a child. This led me to pursue my first degree from Beijing Agricultural University, now known as China Agricultural University, with a major in plant pathology. I went on to obtain a doctorate in plant biology from the University of Rhode Island. Following my studies, I was a research associate at the Noble Foundation in Oklahoma. Prior to joining Corteva in 2001, I was at the University of California, Berkeley working on a bacterial pathogen that causes blight disease in walnuts. My passion is to find ways to improve plant health and to help plants tolerate various stresses.
What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is the opportunity to work with a variety of people and teams, applying CRISPR the most exciting technology in agriculture – to make products beneficial for farmers and consumers.
Tell us more about your role applying CRISPR to develop sustainable agricultural solutions.
During a typical work day you will find me collaborating with a variety of scientists toward the achievement of a shared goal. Our current CRISPR projects are focused on improving corn grain yield and grain quality, as well as increasing a plant’s resistance to diseases and tolerance to drought stress. Corteva intended first commercial CRISPR product – the development of next generation waxy corn hybrids – is a particularly important achievement.
What is the one thing you want the world to know about CRISPR?
CRISPR is a tool that works with the existing characteristics of the plant family to generate genetic variation similar to what can happen spontaneously in nature or directed through conventional plant breeding methods, but with extreme precision and efficiency.