Female #FoodHeroes

Aimee Hood

Aimee is the Regulatory Science Communications Lead at Bayer CropScience in Saint Louis, United States.

 

What do you do?

I lead a team that works to help others understand agriculture and new innovations used in modern agriculture like GMOs, pesticides, microbials, and gene editing. I am proud to be a Bayer employee and love to share stories about the great work the company does and to counter misinformation. I am also an avid advocate for Science, Technology, Engineer and Mathematics (STEM), serve as president of my former high school’s advisory board, and am a member of their Project Lead the Way Partnership Team.

Why do you love your job?

Where do I start? I work with some of the most brilliant people and scientists in the world. They challenge me to be better than I think I can every day. These scientists are consistently thinking about how to provide tools to help farmers around the world to realize better harvests while using resources as efficiently as possible. Their passion is contagious. Every day, I get a chance to mobilize that passion; to interact with others to help them understand agriculture, the challenges it faces, and the solutions that can help create a sustainable future for families like mine. Every one of those interactions is valuable. I learn more about the challenges we face and with the goals of helping others understand why I am so enthusiastic about working in agriculture and at Bayer.

How did you get here?

I have a degree in biochemical engineering and have always had a passion for science and how things work. I love learning new things and love teaching others new things. After over 15 years at Monsanto (now Bayer) working in various roles in manufacturing, research and development, and quality assurance, five years ago my boss at the time suggested that I would be great in science communication. He saw a talent and passion in me that I hadn’t yet leveraged – the ability to bridge the gap between scientists and broader audiences. I took the job, seized the opportunity, and never looked back.

What is your advice for young women wanting to contribute to sustainable food and farming?

Most people don’t realize the endless, diverse ways agriculture contributes to feeding the world. In modern ag, there are plant scientists, computer scientists, agronomists, teachers, engineers, biologists, chemists, communicators, lawyers, medical doctors, etc. Find your pathway, your passion, and you can find ways to pursue it in the agricultural industry. I think it also helps to have great mentors guiding you along the way. Reach out to someone to help you reach your goals. People rarely turn down a chance to mentor others who have a passion aligned with their own.

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How does agriculture need to change to be fit for the future?

In today’s developed world, consumers are interested in quality food that is sourced in sustainable ways. While they are inundated with information intended to make those decisions easier, this information is often misleading. In the developing world, this same (mis)information has created barriers to productive conversations about better health, education, and livelihoods. Those in agriculture are the experts in understanding how to grow safe and affordable food. We must change the conversation and counter the misinformation if we want sustainable agriculture for the future.

What’s one challenge you face as a woman in agriculture and what do you think needs to be done to overcome this?

As the world faces some of its greatest challenges—from climate change to food insecurity—we need to bring diverse young minds, including young women, into STEM fields to achieve next generation scientific breakthroughs. It is so important for educators, mentors and parents to encourage young women to pursue educational opportunities and subsequently careers in STEM. Diversity drives innovation, and innovation solves challenges. Currently, however, women comprise only 30% of the degree holders in STEM fields even though the number of women who hold undergraduate degrees is nearly equal to that of men. This paradigm must shift.

 

Aimee is just one of many inspirational women working in agriculture. Visit our Female #FoodHeroes page to hear from other women working to improve plant science and nutrition.