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Sarah Nell Davidson

Sarah Nell Davidson

PhD, 2009

Sarah Nell Davidson is currently a Research Associate in International Programs at Cornell University and is working with the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative.

Davidson pursued a novel, writing-focused PhD program that fused her experience in plant biology research with science communication, under the guidance of Robert Turgeon. Her doctoral dissertation consisted of a collection of case studies, papers in peer-reviewed journals, and articles for mass media, all stemming from her in-depth research on the controversy around genetically modified papaya in developing countries.

Genetically engineered (GE), virus-resistant papaya was widely and rapidly adopted by Hawaiian growers in the late 1990s. Despite the fact that GE papaya is close to an ideal "pro-poor" GE crop, other papaya-producing countries that are plagued with the Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) and that stand to benefit from this technology have failed to approve it. Sarah spent extensive time researching this controversy in places such as Hawaii, Mexico, Bangladesh, and Thailand.

In an editorial published in the June issue of Plant Physiology, Sarah examines the political and social factors that have stymied the technology in Thailand. An understanding of these factors may help stakeholders devise better strategies for introducing the next generation of biotechnology crops. Read the article at: