Alysa Gauci, a first-year graduate student researching agricultural engineering and crop science, can’t recall a time when agriculture wasn’t a part of her life.
“My passion for agriculture dates back to as far as I can remember,” Gauci said. “Growing up in a small town in south Alabama allowed me to gain exposure to agriculture at a very young age.”
Gauci’s interest in the agriculture was further nurtured by her high school’s agricultural education program and her involvement in FFA, a student organization for individuals interested in agriculture and leadership.
Upon completing high school, Gauci planned to attend Auburn University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. However, Gauci’s plans abruptly changed when she discovered an agricultural-based engineering major: biosystems engineering.
“This new path allowed me to merge my love for science and agriculture, as well as teaching into one course of study,” Gauci said.
While attending Auburn University, Gauci became involved in undergraduate research, specifically the utilization of UAS in precision agriculture. UAS, or unmanned aircraft systems, is the use of remote sensing applications to identify which crops require management.
“Research in precision agriculture is crucial,” Gauci said. “With a growing population, there is a sense of urgency on how to feed and clothe the nation. By conducting research, engaging directly with the farmers and landowners and with improving methods and technologies, this will be possible”.
After completing her undergraduate career, Gauci’s desire to further her research in precision agriculture motivated her to pursue a graduate education.
“Being a first-generation college student, the undergraduate experience was a new path for me to venture, and I knew even less about graduate school,” Gauci said. “However, after learning about the possible opportunities, being able to further my education and engage in research, I knew graduate school was my next step.”
However, what brought Gauci to The Ohio State University wasn’t our renowned football team, but FABE faculty member, Dr. John Fulton.
“I attended AIM [the Annual International Meeting] for ASABE [American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers] in the summer of 2018, and I saw Dr. Fulton,” Gauci said. “We had a great meeting, and before I knew it, I was flying to Columbus, Ohio for a campus visit. I instantly knew Ohio State would be my next home.”
Since becoming a Buckeye, Gauci has had numerous experiences, but the one experience that stands out to her is the fellowship she was awarded at the CFAES Fall Scholarship Dinner. The Stanley W. Joehlin Award is a fellowship that was created to help sponsor students pursing a degree in agricultural engineering with a passion for teaching at the collegiate level.
“I am completely honored that I received the Stanley W. Joehlin Award in agricultural engineering,” Gauci said. “The Joehlins are truly remarkable people that I have had pleasure in getting to know them, and to have my education invested in by such wonderful people has been an extraordinary experience.”
Gauci’s experiences and combined passion for agriculture and teaching has guided her to help other students find their own passions. She encourages students to push personal boundaries and follow their dreams.
“Once you find what you are passionate about, chase it,” Gauci said. “Whether takes you across the country or right down the street, truly go after your dreams and do what makes you happy.”
by Kiersten Wright