The IR-4 Project is a tapestry of talented individuals, spanning our headquarters, regional offices, and research sites nationwide. In celebration of IR-4’s 60th year, we aim to highlight some of the exceptional people who make IR-4 so impactful in the specialty crop community. We began by interviewing Allison Robinson, IR-4 Field Research Director based at The Ohio State University.
Allison was one of the recipients of the Technical Service Award at our 2023 National Education Conference (NEC) held in San Juan, Puerto Rico in February. We were impressed to hear that she is leading 19 trials this season for IR-4, and thrilled to learn more about her drive and commitment to agricultural research.
A 2013 graduate of Pan-American Agricultural School Zamorano in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Allison earned her B.S. in Environment and Development. Upon graduation, Allison worked on a coffee and cocoa project in Nicaragua— her first experience with specialty crops. Next, Allison returned to El Salvador to work with an agrochemical company where she focused on product testing. In 2015, she had the opportunity to complete a 6-month internship at The Ohio State University, where she was first introduced to The IR-4 Project and Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) trials. In 2019, Allison transitioned to a full-time role and is now the main contact for specialty crop GLP trials at The Ohio State University.
On top of Allison’s full-time research position, she and her husband grow corn and soybeans on a farm of their own. In their free time, they enjoy hiking and kayaking with their two dogs. Allison is proud to be part of something bigger than herself as well as her role in making lasting impacts on the agricultural industry.
“I’ve always been partial to agriculture, being around it just brings me joy,” said Allison.
Day to Day as an FRD
A typical day in the life of an IR-4 Field Research Director shifts with the seasons and is full of activity, from field to office and back again. Allison emphasized the busy field summers, where much time is spent waiting for cooperative weather, and gathering data in the field. In the winter, her work is focused on record-keeping and writing research proposals. All seasons require specific attention to detail to make sure everything goes according to plan.
Juggling GLP Trials
Allison is currently leading 19 GLP field trials—an impressive number considering the thoroughness and precision these trials require. When we asked Allison what drives her to take on so many complex trials, she shared that she loves the challenge of coordination. Her current projects include testing new equipment like high-clearance sprayers and managing pests on leafy greens.
Last year, Allison conducted over 40 trials, with 7 of those under GLP. Allison shared that her biggest challenge is record-keeping for the GLP trials, due to their rigorous requirements. Unpredictable weather and staffing shortages have also added to the complexity of Allison’s recent trials. Teamwork is essential to navigate these challenges, and Allison is a team player at heart.
“We can’t do it without the farm crew and research assistants,” Allison emphasized.
Looking ahead to this year, Allison is excited about growing sunflowers and learning more about their production through a trial focused on sunflower seed and oil.
What do 60 Years of The IR-4 Project Mean to you?
The year 2023 marks sixty years of IR-4, and we asked Allison what being part of an organization with such longevity means to her. She highlighted the importance of the relationships between IR-4, universities, and growers.
“Showcasing the impact and the support that growers have for the IR-4 Project” is meaningful to Allison in her daily work. “It’s incredible and personally fulfilling to be a part of something that’s making an impact.”
The IR-4 Project depends on skilled and driven researchers like Allison, who are dedicated to IR-4’s mission and vision, and who are passionate about specialty crop agriculture.
Thanks for sharing your time with us, Allison! We wish you the best in this year’s trials.
Are you an IR-4 team member interested in being featured & sharing more about your daily work? Contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to shine a light on what you do & how it impacts our organizational mission.
About The IR-4 Project
The mission of the IR-4 Project is to facilitate regulatory approval of sustainable pest management technologies for specialty crops and specialty uses to promote public well-being. By working directly with local crop growers across the country, IR-4 conducts research and develops data necessary for the registration of pest management tools, ensuring that they are safe for use. To learn more, visit our website.