My name is Avinash Karn, I go by Avi, I am a plant quantitative geneticist and computational biologist, and digital agriculture and robotics enthusiast; and an amateur astronomer, painter, online blogger, photographer and vivid cook. :)

I obtained my secondary and higher secondary education in my hometown Birgunj, Nepal. Next, I came to the United States to earn my Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Sciences, specializing in plant genetics at Truman State University, and finally, earned my PhD at the University of Missouri Columbia specializing in plant breeding, genetics and genomics.

I specialize in plant breeding, statistical genetics and computational biology. Currently, I am a post-doctoral computational biologist at Cornell University in Geneva, New York. I intend to use my education and training in pursuing a career in a research organization that is involved to improve human nutrition, health and environment for both developed and developing communities.

Why I became a scientist? I believe that some traits you are just born with. I know personally, I have had one burning inside of me since I was very young. It was the trait that at times strayed me to trouble when I was a small boy, the very same trait that led me to take apart the television set to see how it worked, to make my own telescope to explore space firsthand, and later on took me on an adventure across the world to America where I could successfully fulfill my thirst for knowledge. Curiosity to know, to learn how, and to make things better has been a driving force in my life. It often led me to the lush backyard garden in the Nepalese house I called home for so many years. As a small child I remember standing crouched over my mother’s plants in the day’s early hours with a toothbrush protruding from one side of my mouth, more concerned about looking at the plants than I ever was about brushing my teeth. Over the years I could not shake my want to learn of those plants. Despite my mother and father’s wishes, as well as the Nepalese culture urging of young intelligent men to enter the medical field, I kept my interest in plants alive; I started taking classes in general agriculture in elementary school, continuing them in high school. I went on to leave Nepal for the United States at the age of 19 where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. It is my Nepalese roots that give birth to my devotion to study Agriculture Science. I was brought up in a sub-urban city of Nepal, the location of most of the country’s agro-based industrial activities. In every monsoon season, my house would become surrounded with green paddy fields. I enjoyed watching farmers plowing their fields with oxen, sowing rice plants with their bare hands in the muddy soil, and harvesting in the fall. But I also witnessed natural disasters in those same fields; floods and droughts came and went, negatively affecting the socio-economic conditions of poor farmers in the region. Eighty percent of the Nepal’s total population is directly involved in agriculture, so these harsh times left me wanting to help the farmers; I knew the most powerful tool was an agriculture education. I have always been inspired by great people in our history, believing that there are great lessons to be learned from their achievements as well as their hardships. My life has been greatly influenced by the livelihoods of Isaac Newton, Nicola Tesla and Thomas Elva Edison. Edison once stated, “There is always a better way. Find it.” This quote has motivated and inspired me to assist the agricultural world in finding “better” farming techniques by improving crop varieties. Like Edison, I believe that strides toward improvement can always be made and goals can never be set too high.


Awards

  • 2017 Research in Plant Biology Award, University of Missouri
  • 2016 Life Sciences Week research recognition award, University of Missouri
  • 2016/17 Division of Plant Sciences Travel Fund, University of Missouri
  • 2013 Interdisciplinary Plant Group Travel Grant, University of Missouri
  • 2012-17 Dr. Marcus Zuber Endowment Fellowship, University of Missouri
  • 2010 Dr. Max E. Bell Scholarship, Truman State University
  • 2008-12 President’s Honorary Scholarship, Truman State University

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