As a child growing up on a small farm in northwestern Ohio, I was fascinated by biology. I rushed home from school to watch the mystery of seedlings popping their heads out of germinating seeds in my garden. And I observed colonies of ants, busily involved in collaborative efforts to build their homes, in the ant farms that I built.
Throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers and my first postdoctoral position, my focus was on bacteria, particularly bacteria related to medical problems. But my thoughts kept returning to what the technologies I had learned could do for agriculture, and I made a course correction.
The rest of my career has been devoted to the development and use of recombinant DNA tools to improve food crops. I am now thrilled to be part of the African Biofortified Sorghum Project, aimed at improving sorghum for Africa. My childhood thrill has led me down a path that I hope will have a positive impact on the lot of the poor in Africa.