Madhulika Singh grew up in a traditional Indian community where girls choosing to study science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) subjects were as radical as them picking their own life partner.

Women are said to hold up half of the sky. Singh, who is now an agriculture specialist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, believes girls should be able to hold their own and even contribute equally to STEM.

In her early adolescence, she observed her mother, a school principal, juggle her profession and family responsibilities without breaking a sweat. Her sister-in-law later provided a comparable scenario saying that she grew up believing that a woman is capable of so much, whether at home or work.

Singh’s objectives and aims were very obvious from the start. She was fascinated with biology throughout school, particularly plant studies and botany. Her curious personality was reflected in her projects and presentations. She showed a good command of plant physiology as well as a strong interest in the subject. Singh believes that the emerging scientist’s desire to learn more and do more is reflected in her present research and publications.

Singh is currently working at CIMMYT’s Cereal Systems in her home state of Bihar. 

Agriculture and extension services are critical for the region. Over 70% of the population is involved in agriculture and extension services. However, the small size of farms, low incomes, and comparatively low levels of agricultural mechanization threaten food and livelihoods.

Singh and her colleagues have pioneered the move from traditional farming to sustainable intensification strategies such as early zero tillage, wheat sowing, and direct-seeded rice. This has significantly increased smallholder farmers’ output potential.

Her grandfather and grandmother were both farmers. Singh’s family sees her profession as a crop scientist as an extension of the services her grandfather provided.

Singh is confident in her position, which includes collaborating with other scientists, partners, and farmers to make agriculture sustainable and our people’s food secure.

Singh is a true example of the STEM community since she continually learns and gives back to society. She has written to several publications and magazines, sharing her experience with others.