Someone once told me that we can be characterised by what we empty out of our pockets at the end of every day. In my case it’s seeds, a habit I inherited from my grandfather.

I grew up on his farm outside Nelspruit in an incredibly sporty and adventurous household, and so have always been obsessed with natural spaces and the life that occupies them. I hold a BSc in applied plant and soil sciences from the University of Pretoria and am very much a self-professed agricultural science nerd, but my book collection still reflects a love for evolutionary biology, zoology, and ecology as well.


However, during my time in the university residences, I developed a passion for social justice and this has shaped my research focus. My work looks on how small-scale farmers use social media to form online communities and share information. Our goal now is to develop free online learning programmes for farmers, with the aim of increasing university-community engagement. I believe that all science should be open-access, and that we as scientists need to do more to ensure that the way we communicate our science is also understandable. One of my personal goals for 2020 is to be more active on social media under my handle @HaysHarvest, talking about the complexities of the global food system.