Ricardo ST AIME, a first semester Clemson graduate student from Port-au-Prince, Haiti is making impressive strides in his research. Ricardo is a LASPAU Fulbright Scholar, working on his Master’s program under the guidance of Dr. Sruthi Narayanan. Studying Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) and researching the benefits of cover crops for subsequent cash crops geared towards the climate change, Ricardo has big plans for his
Get to know more about Ricardo ST AIME and his accomplishments!
How has your experience working/studying in this field helped you achieve your academic goals?
As a former UN consultant at the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) I have worked for 6 years in vulnerable areas on urban and periurban agriculture, producing fresh food in recycled materials and raising both chicken and rabbits in order to help families improve their daily diet and diverse their income source. Climate change and waste management are two challenges that my country continuously faces which has leaded me to this path.
Why is this field (or research) important to you? And what made you want to get involved in it?
According to a recent statistic, it is projected by 2050 that half of the world population will live in cities. These cities will need adequate food supply and resources for better livelihoods. Erosion and waste management are issues that require improvement, and new farming techniques will be needed to enhance agricultural production. One of the ways we are pursuing this is the cover crop system, a way to produce organic food while adapting to climate change.
What is the overall goal of your research/study and how will you be able to achieve it?
The main goal of my research is to evaluate the performance and the benefits for the subsequent crops of the common cover crop used in the southern region of the United States and especially in South Carolina and to recommend either a single specie or a mix of species to South Carolina farmers. The total research period will span around 2 years, but I am currently doing an on-farm trial in Pendleton during this fall/winter season.
Have you faced any obstacles academically or in your research? How did you overcome them?
The main obstacle I have faced is the weather, it is almost impossible to plant my seeds if it does not rain and some species do not have a large planting period. So I may have to change some of my plant species in order to better accommodate the experiment. Another obstacle I have faced is some of the complex materials being taught by my professors. At times it is difficult to understand what my professors are saying, but I have overcome this by speaking with them and fellow students after class and going over the materials to make sure I clearly understand everything.
What would you say is your biggest take-away from your research/studies?
I still have a lot to learn about the topic, but so far I would say just the general ins and outs of the project and handling the workload that comes with it. A lot more goes into the research than you see.
What are your future goals/aspirations?
I plan to train a new generation of agronomists, farmers and community groups in my home country about these techniques, to research native and local crops that can be used as cover crops to benefit Haitian Agriculture, and to develop school and community gardens to address the waste management challenge. I am undecided as of now, but may pursue a Ph.D. at Clemson before returning to my country.
Quote from Advisor: “Ricardo is a self-motivated person who works hard to achieve excellence. He is not hesitant to take risks and face challenges in terms of research. He wants to work on research projects which directly benefit farmers. He is a good team player and takes part in other lab projects with great enthusiasm,” says Dr. Sruthi Narayanan, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.