Vasu Sharma joins the faculty
Please welcome Assistant Extension Professor Vasu Sharma to the University of Minnesota! She joined the university in July and has a joint appointment with our department and the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate.
Where are you from, and where did you attend undergrad and grad school?
I was born and brought up in Punjab, a northwestern state of India also known as the “breadbasket” of India. I did my undergrad in agricultural engineering from Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, India and then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to pursue my master's and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in biological systems engineering.
What motivated you to study biological/biosystems engineering?
Excessive ground water and fertilizer use for agriculture in Punjab has led to water table drops and deterioration at an alarming rate, making it the second most overstressed aquifer in the world. The first-hand experience of this change motivated me to become an agricultural engineer. Furthermore, I always wanted to be an engineer to bring a positive change to our society and make the world a better place to live.
What will you be doing in your position?
In my position as an irrigation specialist, my focus will be to develop irrigation water management research and extension education programs to address the issues of water shortages and water quality for the state of Minnesota. I plan to do so by collaborating with crop irrigators, water managers, and stakeholders to assess the needs and then conduct need-based research to evaluate and identify the best irrigation management practices that would enhance crop water productivity and reduce environmental impacts.
Why are you interested in irrigation water management research?
Due to increasing population and climate change around the globe, the competition for freshwater resources has increased. This has threatened the long-term sustainability of water resources in the agriculture sector. Irrigation alone consumes about 80 percent of the world’s freshwater, thus, water shortages for irrigation agriculture will become common in the near future. In such scenarios, there is a pressing need to develop irrigation water management research programs that can bring some significant changes in agricultural water use. In Minnesota, even though there is an abundance of underground water, competition of water resources in agriculture is increasing. Moreover, irrigation-induced soil-water quality is one of the major irrigation problems of the state, which needs to be addressed. Irrigation water management research will provide us with the opportunity to deal with water quantity and quality issues efficiently and in a timely manner.
What excites you about joining the University of Minnesota?
The University of Minnesota is one of the top-ranked public universities of the United States with a mission of advancing and sharing the scientific truth by educating the diverse community. The U of M provides a diverse array of research and extension opportunities to tackle irrigation-induced water quality issues in their state-of-the-art facilities. Also, a diverse body of outstanding and experienced faculty, staff, and students in the departments of Soil, Water, and Climate, and Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering make the U of M an ideal place for me to improve my skills and experience to achieve my career and life goals of making the world a better place.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love nature and being outside. So, whenever I get time, I go hiking or camping.
What is something about yourself that you'd like to share to your new colleagues and students?
I would like my colleagues and students to know that I believe in teamwork a lot. I believe that to get the best out of science, we need to share our ideas and expertise and work together, and I am very much open for it. Collaboration is the key to success, and I would be glad if I could help my colleagues in their work in any way.