As a child, Shantal Pai, ’18 B.S., noticed the inequity between the abundance of food grown on her mother’s family’s farm in Wisconsin and the number of people going without during visits to her father’s relatives in India. It got her thinking at a young age about how to alleviate hunger.
“For a long time, I was interested in how we can grow enough food to feed people,” says the plant science major. “But the more you study food issues, you realize it isn’t so much about growing more but about getting the food we have to the right people.”
Pai has been working on both since she started at the U. She researched yield gaps in corn and soybean production, calculating how much more farmers could grow with the right resources; looked for ways to stop frogeye leaf spot in soybeans; and evaluated the accuracy of aerial imagery in agriculture as a Land O’Lakes intern.
She says scholarship support allowed her to have these career-building experiences. “I could have a job doing what I wanted to be doing and work my way up,” she explains.
Pai will start law school at the U this fall with the goal of changing our food system and regulatory structure so it feeds the hungry and protects the environment. “Our current system fails on both fronts,” she says.