Navigating Diversity in Agriculture & STEM

Dr. Shefali Mehta & Dr. LaKisha Odom

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Frank Discussions about Diversity in Agriculture

The future of agriculture depends on the work that we do today to optimize diverse, equitable and inclusive spaces. The Open Rivers Navigator podcast, hosted by the founder, Dr.Shefali Mehta, features a three-episode series with FFAR Scientific Program Director Dr. LaKisha Odom  discussing the realities and repercussions of discrimination and exclusion in agriculture.

This series explores how Odom developed a passion for agriculture, the transformative side of discomfort and the impacts of institutionalized racism on her daily life. This series reminds listeners that while you are not alone in these feelings of inadequacy, you are not inadequate.

Tune in to hear more of Odom’s thoughts.

Episode One: Navigating diversity in agriculture and STEM with Dr. LaKisha Odom

The first episode in this series focuses on diversity and barriers in agriculture. Odom discusses how she grew to love agriculture, how she holds multiple realities and her experience in the white world of agriculture. Read the episode transcript.

Listen to Episode One

In having difficult conversations like this, we can create this future we want to see. We can’t get there by not talking about it. We’ve done that for hundreds of years. How’s that working out for us? Not great. LaKisha Odom, Ph.D.
Scientific Program Director
Sustaining Vibrant Agroecosystems

Episode Two: Navigating diversity in agriculture and STEM with Dr. LaKisha Odom

In the second episode, Odom shares experiences of being too much, and yet still not enough. She discusses the consequences of gaslighting, the importance of discomfort and the ways to take action in your own life. Read the episode transcript.

Listen to Episode Two

When you talk about leading change and transforming organizations, the first step is to lead yourself…If you individually make these shifts, then these behaviors will change. Dr. Shefali Mehta
Founder of Open Rivers

Episode Three: Navigating diversity in agriculture and STEM with Dr. LaKisha Odom

In the final episode, Odom dives into the harm microaggressions cause and the impacts of institutional racism on everyday life. This episode captures the importance of having these difficult conversations. Read the episode transcript.

Listen to Episode Three


More Navigator Podcast Episodes

Where to listen

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Our Insights highlight unique perspectives from across the food and agriculture community.

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Advancing Ecosystem Service Markets for Sustainable Farming

LaKisha Odom & DJ May

Feeding Bees Through Diversity

Riley Reed

FFAR Fellow, Washington State University

Precision Agriculture Tools for Livestock Production

Caleb J. Grohmann

FFAR Fellow, University of Missouri

The Next Frontier for Biotechnology & the Future of Forestry

Samantha Surber

FFAR Fellow, University of Georgia

A Place for Everyone in Agriculture

Dr. LaKisha Odom & Jocelyn Hittle

Transforming Agriculture with Data and Artificial Intelligence

Shiang-Wan Chin, FFAR Fellow

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Closing the Loop

Madeline Desjardins, FFAR Fellow

Washington State University

Importance of Bacteria in Identifying Bovine Respiratory Disease

Ruth Eunice Centeno Martinez

FFAR Fellow, Purdue University

Let’s Raise a Glass on National Milk Day to the Power of Agriculture Research

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Krysta Harden

President and CEO U.S. Dairy Export Council

The Innovation Dilemma: Why Adoption Rates for Agricultural Technologies Lag Behind

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Enrique Pena Martinez, FFAR Fellow

Raleigh, North Carolina

Building Team Chemistry: The Bigger Picture Behind Cows & Climate

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Conor McCabe

Animal Biology Graduate Student, UC Davis

Insight on Livestock Methane Mitigation

Dr. Rod Mackie, Professor, Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL

Finding a New Way to Control Weeds in Cotton.

Sarah Chu

Sarah Chu

FFAR Fellow, Texas A&M University

Indigenous Farmers are Leading a “New Green Revolution” Focused on Hemp

James DeDecker, Director, Michigan State University – Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center Mary Donner, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians – Ziibimijwang Farm Executive Director and Tribal Citizen

The Algae-rithm of Sustainable Agriculture: Can Algae Replace Harmful Pesticides and Fertilizers?

Mira Conyers

Protecting the Vidalia Onion

Sujan Paudel

FFAR Fellow

Irrigation’s Role in Ensuring Global Food Security

Luke Reynolds

Irrigation Association

A Biomass Carol: Bioenergy for The Future

Ekramul Ehite

FFAR Fellow, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

The “Good Soil Discount” — A Game Changer for U.S. Agriculture

Harley Cross

Harley Cross

Land Core Co-founder & Director of Strategy


The latest news and updates from FFAR.

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FFAR Names Sixth Cohort of Veterinary Fellows

Advancing Circular Bioeconomy with Biomass Feedstocks

U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef & FFAR Announce Focus Group Series to Develop Sustainable Beef Research Roadmap

Student Teams Combat Climate Change

FFAR & NWO Launch Greenhouses in Transition & Welcome Proposals

FFAR’s Rapid Response Program Welcomes Avian Flu Research Proposals

AgMission & PepsiCo Grants Bolster Climate-Resilient Farms & Value Chains

AgMission™ Funds Global Youth Consultation to Co-Create Agricultural Solutions with Young Farmers

FFAR Accepting Applications for Harvest for Health Breakthrough Crop Challenge

Secretary Vilsack Announces USDA and FFAR Innovation Challenge to Catalyze Agricultural Solutions

FFAR Grant Unites Urban Agriculture Operations to Increase Food Security

FFAR-Funded Research to Prevent African Swine Fever Virus

FFAR Announces New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Awardees

FFAR Awards Savanna Institute a Grant to Inform Agroforestry Adoption

FFAR & The Organic Center Invest $632,000 into the Future of Organic Farming

Greener Cattle Initiative Opens Call for Enteric Methane Emission Research

FFAR Grant Addresses Emerging Pine Needle Diseases

FFAR Accepting Pre-Proposals for 2024 Seeding Solutions

FFAR Grant Provides Data on Nitrogen Management Practices in the Great Plains

FFAR & AAVMC Open Applications for 2024 FFAR Vet Fellows


Tools, technologies and strategies from the research we fund.

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Building Collaborations for Technology-Driven Solutions in Agriculture

Breakthrough for Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management (OpenTEAM)

Building Food System Interventions to Support Urban & Rural Communities

Breakthrough for Integrating Community and Modeling Efforts to Evaluate Impacts and Tradeoffs of Food System Interventions

Unlocking Genetic Heat Tolerance in Cattle

Breakthrough for Precision Bred Adaptation of Elite Taurine Breeds of Beef & Dairy Cattle

Increased Fiber, Same Great Taste

Breakthrough for Increasing Dietary Fiber in Wheat Crop

Diagnosing Coffee Leaf Rust & Slowing Its Spread

Breakthrough for Protecting Coffee from Leaf Rust Disease

Connecting Growers & Markets

Breakthrough for FFAR Grant Develops Tools to Predict Consumer Demand, Reduce Food Waste

Accelerating Crop Development with Improved Haploid Fertility

Breakthrough for Accelerated Development of Crops of the Future

Documenting Adaptive Multi-Paddock Grazing’s Benefits

Breakthrough for Quantifying the Advantages of Multi-Paddock (AMP) Grazing Compared to Conventional Continuous Grazing in the U.S. Southeast & Northern Great Plains

RIPE Researchers Prove Bioengineering Better Photosynthesis Increases Yields in Food Crops for the First Time

Breakthrough for Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) Reinvestment

Launch of Eco-Harvest, a program rewarding producers for regenerative agriculture practices

Breakthrough for Ecosystem Services Market Consortium

Radiography could transform poultry breeding

Breakthrough for FFAR Awards $1.4 Million to Purdue University, University of California, Davis and University of Edinburgh Researchers to Improve Health and Productivity of Egg-Laying Hens

Research Pinpoints Why Dairy Cows Produce Less Milk in Warm Weather and Develops Nutrition-Based Solution

Breakthrough for FFAR Grant Helps Heat-Stressed Dairy Cows Weather Increasing Temperatures

The Irrigation Innovation Consortium & Parallel 41 Network: Building a path to data-driven management

Groundwater Fluctuations Impact Grain Yields

Breakthrough for FFAR Awards $2.4 Million to Eight Early-Career Research Faculty Members for Innovative Research Projects

Getting to the Root of the Problem: Fastidious Pathogens

Report on Interventions to Reduce Consumer Food Waste

Breakthrough for Understanding & Reducing Consumer Food Waste

Feed Additives Stop Viral Disease Spread, Researchers Find

Breakthrough for FFAR-Funded Research Finds Feed Additives Stop the Spread of Viral Diseases

Initial Successes in Ending Surgical Castration of Swine

Breakthrough for FFAR Awards $500,000 Grant to Improve Swine Health and Well-Being

Emergency Food for Children & Families During the Pandemic

Breakthrough for Integrating Community and Modeling Efforts to Evaluate Impacts and Tradeoffs of Food System Interventions

Breakthroughs to Advance Food & Agricultural Research by 2030

Breakthrough for Breakthroughs 2030 Report Identifies New Scientific Strategy to Transform U.S. Agriculture