Women in Crop Modeling – Glorie Metsa Wowo

Glorie is a Computer Scientist with a passion to apply technology to real-life problems. Today she tells us about her work in crop modeling and monitoring through remote sensing and artificial intelligence;

Hi Glorie, thank you for joining us today. It is our pleasure to have you talk about improvements in agriculture. This is an interesting sector for our continent
Hi Winnie, it is a pleasure to connect with you. Thank you for your interest in my journey. I am happy to share my experience with you.

Give a brief introduction about yourself and your interest
My name is Glorie Metsa Wowo from Cameroon. I work as a Scientific Officer in Artificial Intelligence at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Dakar, Senegal. Specifically, I work on crop monitoring and developing Earth Observation services in smallholder agriculture value chains. I contribute to solving the challenge of food insecurity by helping farmers increase their production. We do this through informed decisions that make the farmers eligible for credit from banks and insurance companies. Because agriculture is one of the backbones of development in Africa, challenges like food insecurity harm the continent to a great extent.

This is an important contribution to the agricultural sector. Of all parts of this sector, what inspired you to join crop modeling?
I was always interested in technology and science since high school. I did my high school in Physics and Science. After high school, I was selected for Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Dschang, for my bachelor’s degree. I applied for this course because of my interest in applied sciences.

After my bachelor’s, I did a master’s degree in Computer Science with a specialization in Network and Distributed Services. During my master’s, one of our lecturers started talking about the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), an institution that he had also attended. He kept saying that it was one of the best institutions in Mathematical Sciences. Out of curiosity I applied and was accepted into AIMS Cameroon on a full scholarship. During my stay at AIMS, I got more interested in modeling and applied mathematics.

After graduating from AIMS, I received the Mathematical Science for Climate Change Resilience (MS4CR) scholarship with ICRISAT and Manobi Africa as host companies. During this internship as a geospatial analyst, I became progressively interested in the application of space technologies in agriculture which as mentioned earlier, is a very critical segment in Africa and the world. This experience motivated me to apply for my current job.

As a young African in STEM, what are some of the challenges you have faced?
One of the biggest challenges was stress and staying up to date with technological or research advances in my field of work. When I joined the university I quickly noticed a big change from high school, and the standards are also much higher. The amount of work, subjects to learn, and time spent in class could easily lead to stress. Being a member of different clubs (IT club, basketball club, Google developer group, etc) helped me to avoid stress. I actively participated in conferences at the university and even in the city. To have a work-life balance, I still apply this lifestyle even as an employee by finding strategies to engage in useful side activities for well-being. Besides, to stay up to date on the new techniques, I read a lot and participate in workshops as much as possible.

What inspires you to keep going even when things get tough?
I keep pushing because I am passionate about transforming Africa through IT and Mathematics. Everyone can play a critical role if we want to improve the living conditions in our societies. I will never stop saying it, the summation of local transformation will form a large-scale transformation. My hard work and interest in issues that require real progress are a result of that feeling of incompleteness.

What is the most prestigious moment in your career journey in crop modeling?
Having my work used by many people, from different backgrounds and levels of education, to contribute to the projects we work on makes me very proud and happy.

We have seen you at school and work, but, who is Glorie outside of all that seriousness?
Outside of work, I am interested in nature. I like to go for walks to clear my mind. I also read documentaries and try to stay up to date with worldwide news.

What is your favorite quote?
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” ~ Walt Disney

How would you encourage a young girl who wants to join the field of crop modeling?
For those with parents who are farmers, I would encourage them to accompany their parents to the farms when it is possible. They should be curious about how plant life works, the duration between planting and harvesting, the amount of fertilizer used, and other aspects of agriculture. This is a very good preparation for the future. It will help them understand the models they will be working with better.

For those with non-farming parents, it is never too late for them to gain an interest in agriculture and gather as much practical information as possible. Everyone can join crop modeling, it’s just a matter of going for what you want and figuring out how to make it work.

Some advice for girls in STEM; always involve yourselves in extracurricular activities and clubs in your respective schools. It will allow you to learn and share with others. Only hard work and motivation will lead you to success.

Thank you, Glorie, for sparing time to share your STEM journey with the world. We wish you so much success on your journey in crop modeling. Africa awaits your greatness.

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