Touyee Thao, Fresno State University


Touyee Thao kneeling in a field working with agricultural equipment

Growing up in Fresno, Touyee helped on the family farm growing Asian vegetables and specialty crops. He noticed that although there are a lot of minority farmers, there were virtually no young people in the field with formal education that could help overcome some of the language and cultural barriers that have made it difficult for minority growers to obtain help. These experiences provided the impetus for Touyee to enter Fresno as a plant science major.

In his sophomore year, Touyee met Dave Goorahoo and started working on projects with both Dr. Goorahoo and Florence Cassel Sharma. By the time he was a senior, he had taken over a major research project whose objective was to implement water management practices to improve water use efficiency in processing tomato and sugar beet production. The project integrates Landsat satellite images of fields and ground truthing using lysimeters. Both as an undergraduate and graduate student, Touyee worked on various research projects for Drs. Goorahoo and Sharma for the last six years. He plans to obtain an additional year of data before he graduates with his Master’s degree. Reflecting on how research and classes intersect, he noticed that his professors talk about what they have learned in their research projects but also how much more there is to learn. Indeed, Touyee has observed this in his own research. This drive to learn more and create new knowledge has provided the drive for Touyee to continue his studies on soil-water management in a Ph.D program once he graduates.