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Robin Sehler’s Reflections as an IonE Graduate Leader

Learn more about the Institute on the Environment’s Graduate Leaders program! Read below for Robin Sehler’s reflections on her experience as a co-lead of the Agriculture & Climate cohort:

Reflections as an IonE Graduate Leader  |  By Robin Sehler

I’m very thankful for the Institute on the Environment’s (IonE) Graduate Leaders Program. By exploring the questions posed by my Agriculture & Climate cohort mentors, Dr. Jennifer Schmitt and Dr. Pedro Urriola, I’ve learned more about the food system, and I now have an increased sense of the collaborative and interdisciplinary work that needs to be done across value chains in order to improve agricultural sustainability.

IonE has inspired me to study the sustainability goals set recently by some of the nation’s leading retailers and food brands. I’ve become curious about the specific types of scientific information retailers are looking for. This curiosity is tying into my doctoral research perfectly, as I begin to utilize whole farm modeling software, which takes into account greenhouse gas emissions, specifically in the dairy industry. I’ll be researching how these models can be applied to help companies in their efforts to become more environmentally sustainable.

I’m also so grateful for the people I’ve met in IonE. My cohort co-leader Anay Ravelo, a doctoral candidate studying ruminant nutrition and dairy health, has an extensive amount of knowledge and experience in the dairy industry, which has afforded me frequent, valuable learning opportunities. I’m especially delighted when I get to ask her about alfalfa, because for my PhD research, I have been studying alfalfa crop rotations, as a part of a life cycle assessment. Working primarily with satellite data, it is tremendously helpful for me to talk with Anay, who works hands-on in dairy.

Lastly, I’m so grateful for the enrichment I’ve received from our leadership trainings, which have been meaningful, inspiring, and informative, and I’m grateful for all of the experience in planning and communication I’ve gained. I feel proud of what I have been able to accomplish with my co-leader Anay and our cohort. IonE has revitalized my sense of self-efficacy, which, in turn, has helped me plan and propose two independent study courses that will enable me to complete all PhD course requirements by the end of the Spring.

About the Author: Robin Sehler is pursuing a PhD in Land and Atmospheric Science, through the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate. Her research interests are climate resilience, sustainable and regenerative agriculture, nutrient cycling, soil health, soil microbial interactions, root functioning, whole farm modeling, life cycle assessments, geospatial analysis, and computer programming. She is passionate about learning, well-being, organization, and development.

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