Dall-E prompt: "woman with dark hair in a longer french bob who is operating a drone over a soybean field in the style of fauvism"

Research and Discovery Newsletter

Research and Discovery Newsletter


A few years back, I sat in a seminar listening to Bob Treadway explain the art of “Backcasting” to an audience of university administrators (and administrator wannabes, which I was at the time).  Backcasting helps with accomplishing a specific, desired outcome.  How does it work?  In a nutshell, identify a seemingly difficult (or way-out-into-the-future) goal, then work backward to identify all the steps it would take to get there.  Once that’s done, assign a timeline and set to work.  It’s different than forecasting in that where you are NOW doesn’t limit your thinking on where to go NEXT.  In my experience, Backcasting is a great tool for setting then accomplishing audacious goals.

For the seminar, Bob set us up for the topic with a quote from Charles Kettering (of engineering fame, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a few other top-notch accolades).  The quote: “My interest is in the future because I’m going to spend the rest of my life there.”

With all the R&D we do, it seems like in some ways anyone doing research is a futurist.  We’re all developing the knowledge that leads us (or someone reading our papers) to a brighter future.

It’s a new year, and Artificial Intelligence is the cool kid on the block.  By nearly all accounts, AI is changing our future, so we find ourselves rethinking how to use AI as a tool for research, teaching, and Extension<- You’ll find at each of those links an example.   In this edition of the CALS Office of Research & Discovery newsletter, we highlight how Arti Singh and her PhD student Ashlyn Rairdin are encouraging women to get involved in AI for agriculture.

Dall-E prompt: woman with dark hair in a longer french bob who is operating a drone over a soybean field in the style of fauvism

As always, in this office, we’re working to support your research by bringing together the tools, support, resources, and partnerships that save you time and help to generate resources to support your research.  Let us know if you are interested to visit with granting agency leaders in DC (trip planned for April 2), and keep an eye out for a college-wide research gathering during the Spring semester, now in planning stages.  I’m looking FORWARD to learning more about your new ideas!

Carolyn Lawrence-Dill
Associate Dean
Research & Discovery




Iowa State leaders champion women’s leadership in ag and AI technologies

November 6, 2023

Group of women in red shirts and jeans in front of group of young students at a school.
Arti Singh, associate professor, agronomy (far left), speaking to students at Fellows Elementary School in Ames, with representatives of the new Iowa State University group, Women in Agriculture and Artificial Intelligence (WIAA). Pictures by Venkata Naresh Boddepalli.

AMES, Iowa — Artificial intelligence is the focus of many conversations as society tries to understand its uses and implications. Arti Singh is internationally recognized for her work exploring AI’s potential for agriculture, and she is encouraging other women to take leadership in AI technologies for the future. 

Two years ago, Singh, a plant breeder and associate professor in Iowa State University’s Department of Agronomy, started to organize a new group of students as Women in Agriculture and Artificial Intelligence (WIAA) to encourage women to get more involved in AI and recognize its potential to solve diverse ag-related problems. 

“Our goal is to inspire women in STEM disciplines who can lead, influence and create a better future for agriculture using AI tools,” Singh said. 

Her growing cadre of AI enthusiasts, primarily led by graduate students, are off to an active start. They have conducted outreach events to agronomy classes at Iowa State, the Women in Ag club, and to 4-H youth leaders and members. They led a rover-building workshop at the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Go Further Conference last spring. 

Keep reading...

Download the January 2024 Newsletter (pdf)

CALS Office of Research & Discovery
139 Curtiss Hall, Iowa State University | Ames, Iowa 50011
515-294-8842 | research.cals@iastate.edu