11 February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Over the next two weeks we are highlighting some of the inspiring women scientists working in the Pacific Community.
Meet Arshni Shandil - Research Technician at CePaCT, World Centre for Taro
Describe your work?
I am a Research Technician at CePaCT, World Centre for Taro where 360 accessions of yams and 10 accessions of bele and beng conserved. I lead the distribution team in preparing the climate ready crops for distribution and carry out research at CePaCT in improving the crops for conservation and distribution. I am also doing Capacity building, training junior scientists at CePaCT and also the attachees from Ministry, NGO and private sector.
Why did you decide to work in the science field?
I studied Science in High school and University. My favourite subject was Maths and I loved to design experiments and analyse data. I enjoyed working in the farm during rice planting season with my father. I plant vegetables at home and I like to admire these plants when they grow. It was very interesting when I saw these tissue culture plants and learnt that these plants can stay for 6 months to a year in a small tube, in a temperature-controlled environment.
What impact does your work have on the Pacific region?
I conserve different varieties of crops which are climate ready (drought tolerant, salt tolerant, water logged tolerant and heat tolerant). When there is drought in a country, they request for planting materials and we are able to provide with the varieties. If a cyclone hits a country their staple crops are destroyed in the field, so when they request for crops we provide different crops with varieties. The crops are then given out to the farmers.
Advice to other young women or girls on getting involved in STEM?
Science is a broad topic and you have a lot to do here. You can look for the areas you are interested. Always take challenges, this will make you a strong women. Do not get neglected if you are the only women there. More women out there will follow you.