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Sacramento Chemist Uses Technology To Increase Crop Efficiency

Tamara Meragelman is the director of natural products chemistry for Bayer CropScience's biological division, a research and development company that prides itself on innovative crop science "in the areas of seeds, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control."

(Photo Courtesy of Tamara Meragelman)

What does your job entail?

"In this position, I am responsible for leading a team of six scientists in conducting research to understand the chemical compounds that beneficial bacteria can produce. Based on our findings, we work to develop crop protection products, whether for pest control or disease management, from the biological compounds harbored within these microbes. By taking advantage of these microbes' capabilities and improving upon those functions, we can create products that will increase overall crop efficiency and maximize yields for farmers."

What parts of your job do you enjoy most?

"As a chemist, the most interesting aspect is the scientific component. The products we develop will make it possible to feed a growing global population that is expected to reach nine billion people by 2050.

I also greatly enjoy collaborating with my brilliant team as we conduct research with the common objective of finding new solutions for crop protection. As a manager, I have been challenged to learn a completely new set of skills for how to encourage my team to work together and succeed as a unit."

What is your educational background?

"I earned my Doctorate of Philosophy in chemistry at the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. When I moved to the United States in 2004, I was grateful to have gained access to state of the art technology and other resources for the first time to further my research. It was incredible to finally have the chance to put all of my theories and studies to the test in labs and research facilities at a place like Bayer CropScience."

Do you think your education has helped your career?

"Yes and no. Earning a doctorate degree in chemistry has fully prepared me for the scientific aspects of my position, but it did not teach me the managerial and people skills necessary to lead a team of researchers. However, I have been able to gain those skills through first-hand experience and the fantastic training programs provided by Bayer CropScience, which enable scientists like me to continue to grow as professionals into exciting career paths that we might not have ever imagined."

Do you have advice for someone seeking a similar career?

"I encourage anyone interested in pursuing a career in a STEM-related field to avoid focusing too deeply on just one discipline, whether that is chemistry, biology, physics, etc. Learning from an interdisciplinary approach will allow you to develop even better solutions to complex problems. At Bayer CropScience, we all come from different backgrounds and areas of expertise that when combined help us leave a better world and secure a brighter future for agriculture and our planet."

Paulo Acoba is a California native raised in the Bay Area and living in the Central Valley. He enjoys distance running, cycling and grassroots motorsports. He holds a degree in management from the University of California Merced. Paulo has been writing for since 2012 and covering the Fresno area.

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