Seed World

Resilience 101: Cancer isn’t Putting this Future Plant Breeder’s Plans on Hold

Hannah Clubb’s journey into the world of plant breeding has been a little more complicated than many people’s — she’s had to do her studies while dealing with the challenges that come with having cancer. 

In this episode of the Seed World Podcast, recorded live in Greenville, South Carolina, this past summer during the National Association of Plant Breeders annual meeting, she graciously shares her story of balancing her studies with looking after her health. Clubb is an undergrad double majoring in genetics and anthropology at Iowa State University.

She attended the NAPB meeting as a Borlaug Scholar. The scholarship program supports the attendance of future leaders at the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) annual meeting. Hannah’s academic focus is on genetics, and she has been working closely with Dr. Paul Scott on organic maize genetics.

What sets Hannah apart is her interest in seed storage. She plays a vital role in organizing the cold storage area, ensuring that the seeds are preserved for future research. The stories behind each seed package interest her, highlighting the significance of preserving these seeds for future generations. 

Hannah’s interest in plant breeding stems from her childhood spent on a farm. Her defining moment came when she participated in the World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute, and learned about Norman Borlaug’s impactful work in addressing global food security. Her desire to contribute to the cause of feeding the world has been a driving force in her academic pursuits. 

As a Borlaug scholar, Hannah emphasizes the importance of networking and building connections with like-minded individuals at the NAPB meeting. These connections will undoubtedly shape her future in plant breeding, potentially leading to collaborations with researchers who share her goals. 

Looking ahead, Hannah aspires to pursue a Ph.D., although she acknowledges the need to keep her options open. She recognizes the importance of balancing preparation for graduate studies with considerations for an alternative career path in the industry.