Grad Factor: Kelvin Kamfwa
“I work to develop and apply modern agricultural biotechnology with a focus on dry beans, a legume that fixes atmospheric nitrogen into forms that can be used by plants. This will provide the basis for developing molecular tools to accelerate the development of common beans with enhanced nitrogen fixation. Having access to genetically modified crops will give many poor people in developing countries access to education, food, and freedom.”
When I was a kid growing up, my parents were small-scale farmers, peasant farmers. Their yields were extremely low. I still remember going to a field of cassava, finding so many diseases. It used to bother me, because that adds serious repercussions. It means they were not self-sufficient in terms of food for the rest of the year. There has to be a way we can change this narrative.
My name is Kelvin Kamfwa, and I’m a graduate research assistant here at Michigan State University. I’m here to get my PhD. In getting that, I’m hoping that I’m going to get the necessary set of skills I need in plant breeding and genetics. Then I’m hoping that I can go with those skills, go back to Zambia, which is my home country, and help to transfer those skills that are acquired from here to the people in Zambia.
I chose Michigan State specifically because of the very exciting graduate program that they have, which is the plant breeding genetics and biotechnology program. I work with two mentors here, two professors. Dr. Kelly is my main mentor, and then Karen Cichy is my second mentor.
I wanted to make a career as a bean breeder, specifically to be a bean breeder. There is need to increase the food production in my country. For some folks there, it’s a source of livelihood, a source of employment, and a source of food security for them. For us to bring down the cost of food, we need to improve on the productivity and production of those food crops.
Let’s roll. This is what we need. This is what we do as plant breeders.
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