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May 19, 2008 / calebdresser

IRRI – First impressions

Traffic Cop, Los Banos

I’ve been at IRRI, the International Rice Research Institute, for a couple of days now. I had all day yesterday to explore Los Banos and meet people, but our training started today and it looks like we’ll be busy. The weather is muggy and hot – when we were in the center of town, the climate combined with the crushing traffic exhaust to make it nearly impossible to breathe. Above the town, however, dormant volcanoes rise skyward from the rich clay soils of the flats.

Research plots, IRRI - Los Banos

The resesearch institute here is extensive – demonstration and experimental plots cover several hundred hectares. The people, both local and research-oriented, are super friendly. I’ve already met several IRRI grad students and postdocs, two of whom studied at Cornell. It seems that decades of underfunding have created, among other things, a gap in the pipeline that produces new scientists, and as a result IRRI is very interested in getting young people into research-track positions. This reality also plays into the short course I am participating in – IRRI is hoping many of us will stay involved with the rice research scene in the future. With the looming food crisis, we can only hope that funding begins to flow in larger quantities.

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4 Comments

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  1. Amy Freitag / May 19 2008 3:24 pm

    Did you get that last email from Dr. Davies? For once it was something interesting 🙂 … and related to your recent thoughts on IRRI. It’s not just international ag that’s hurting, although I’m sure they are more so than other places, but ag research in general is underfunded and people just aren’t as excited about it as they should be, considering food is important. It was in the NYTimes – who knows, maybe your work could get there too…

  2. Winslow / May 20 2008 3:50 pm

    Glad to hear you arrived safely! Looks like you’ve found a good spot to work on improving a part of the world. The blog is great, I’m going to share it with some friends in hopes that they will be infected by your ideas. Best of luck, stay in touch.

  3. Becky / May 20 2008 6:46 pm

    Sitting at home as infectious as ever, my family has been shoving food at me. It’s hard to fully understand the global food crisis when I’m being served breakfast in bed.

    What are your hours like? Do you have to wake up really early? What are they feeding you… rice?

  4. Margaret McCandless / May 21 2008 11:02 am

    Only one person, so far, has learned of your travels and expressed a wish that you would turn rice into car fuel. Oh, golly, to reply calmly. Big picture: people need food. Bigger picture: the planet’s sustainable balance is off. Gotta move away from cars.
    Cool to see changes among photos at the top, as well as photos within. We all are learning a great deal from your blog. Do we have access to the photo of yourself that was the headliner? I am aware that it is from turtle-protection months, but it’s still good. Love from us all.

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