By Conviron Scholar Modesta Abugu
In this interview, I spoke with Dr. Patricio Munoz, a scientist at the Horticultural Science department, University of Florida. He uses genomic data to predict the phenotype of blueberries, develop new cultivars and improve traits like yield, flavor, shelf and disease resistance. Dr. Munoz started his career as a forestry engineer and coming from a farming family inspired him to explore ways of improving crops. He got his masters in Quantitative Genetics and his PhD in Forage Genomics and Breeding. https://www.linkedin.com/in/patricio-munoz-del-valle-074a3638
I learned a couple of things from this interview.
1. As a scientists, you need to train yourself for other skills which you will not get trained on for your PhD. They include managerial skills, team building skills, communication skills and financial planning/ budgeting skills.
2. Don’t expect to go into the academia and do only research. You will have a lot of paper work that comes with the job and if you are not able to handle both, you may loose patience and dislike your job easily.
3. Your team is your strength. Ensure that you work together with everyone and build as much network as possible.
4. I always thought I had to do my Phd on food crops to be able to work in the food industry. Dr. Munoz proved this to be wrong. Most of his experience was in trees and forages, but he was able to shift focus and apply the skills he got into food crops-blueberries. I was fascinated with his passion and how he made blueberry breeding fun. All over his office were infographics and fun things that would make you love his area of research. In summary, make sure you do what you love!.
5. While enjoying your work as a researcher, ensure that you also engage in other fun things and invest in your hobbies. Despite Dr. Munoz’s busy schedule, he always finds time during the weekend to play soccer and spend time with his family. This is good for a work-personal life balance.
His website can be found here: https://www.blueberrybreeding.com/