Taylor Becker

  • Class of 2017, BS Biochemistry
  • University of California, Davis

What have you been up to since graduation?

After graduating from Miami I chose to pursue a career path in agricultural science so I started a master’s program in Horticulture and Agronomy at University of California, Davis. My master’s project focuses on measuring the interaction of nitrogen uptake and evapotranspiration in irrigated corn in California. I am also studying the usefulness of un-manned aerial vehicle (AKA, drone) generated images and proximal sensing devices that detect reflectance to indicate differences in yield across varying productivity levels.

How has being a graduate of Miami Chemistry and Biochemistry helped your career?

My degree in biochemistry has helped me understand the biology involved in agricultural plants as well as the complicated soil chemistry on a much deeper level. I have been able to apply my knowledge on the pathways of photosynthesis to considerations of plant nutrient deficiency and carbon sequestration. I can follow and understand the many intricate pathways involved in microbial biomass metabolism in the soil that affect nutrient availability to plants. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to soil, plant, and water relationships. Being able to understand why certain relationships are important at the molecular level has helped me understand the plant processes and nutrient uptake on a whole field scale.

Any advice for those who would like to have a career in science and who are considering a chemistry or biochemistry major?

I absolutely loved my time with the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at Miami, mostly because of how engaged professors were. Your experience truly depends on the relationships you can cultivate with professors. I think I am also an example of how a degree in biochemistry (or chemistry) can lead you down a career path you may not expect. I am hoping to be a soil conservationist or agronomist when I am done with my master’s which may not be a conventional career path for a biochemist. When I was applying for programs and talking to potential professors, they were excited to hear that I had a background in biochemistry. For that reason, my advice is to be open to exploring new avenues for applications of chemistry or biochemistry. You may be surprised at how many different opportunities are available.