Scientist Dr Stacy Hammond graduated with a PhD degree from the Faculty of Tropical Agriculture (FTA) in 2021, she currently works as a researcher at the division of Plant Physiology and Cryobiology, Crop Research Institute (CRI), Prague, saving plant biodiversity for present and future generations through the cryobanking of endangered species. She also works as the communications officer for the European division of the international platform YPARD (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development) an international movement with the mission to enabled and empowered young agricultural leaders shaping sustainable food systems.
How did you get involved in your current work?
By stepping out of my comfort zone and being a ¨yes person¨ taking advantage of every opportunity that presented itself no matter how small. I was working at the CRI on my experimental work for my PhD and Dr Jiri Zamecnik my then co-supervisor (now turned boss and colleague) noticed my work and dedication and presented me with the opportunity to become his research assistant, to which I said yes! As for YPARD, this job opportunity came to me within the first month of my PhD studies through a job opening announcement via an FTA email, I applied and Lo and Behold I got it! Hard work and dedication definitely pays off.
What are your perceived differences between the Czech Republic and the Republic of Nicaragua?
Being originally from the tropical weather of Nicaragua, I have to say that for me the main difference was the weather and definitely the food, which is not a bad thing as I got to experience a new culture and the beauty of winter snow. Regarding the educational experience, I found that in Nicaragua the agricultural education is mainly focused on the practical approach, ensuring that the agricultural professionals can help farmers in an applied day to day way, while at the FTA I find that it is mainly focused on science and research and understanding the intricate complexities of tropical agriculture. Having both experiences makes me feel well rounded as a young professional.
What did you gain during your time at FTA? Who influenced you the most and why?
First and foremost I feel that I gained an awesome tropical family in Europe through the colleagues and the staff at the FTA. The faculty has not only helped to shape my carrier by opening its doors but have also provided me with the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to face the employment sector head-on (even before graduating). My supervisor Dr Iva Viehmanova had the biggest influence on me, she not only shared her immense knowledge she also provided unconditional and continuous support, patience and a work ethic that will stay with me forever. I could never imagine having a better mentor.
What was your favourite subject/who was your favourite teacher at FTA?
My favourite subject was cereals and pulses, though the identification test was super difficult I really liked that the teacher Ing. Olga Leuner PhD had a room filled with samples of all the cereals and pulses for students to use as reference. To this day I still walk in stores and test myself by reciting the Latin names of each cereal or pulse I see.
Any recommendations for current and future FTA students?
My recommendation is to step out of your comfort zone and learn new things, each FTA department has so much to offer. Take advantage of each opportunity that comes your way even if it means a little extra work or stress, you never know what doors they might open and where these may lead.
What are your plans for the future?
I currently work at the CRI and YPARD where I plan to stay for the immediate future. The foreseeable future is yet to be determined but I hope it leads to having the best of both worlds… a well-cemented career and family!