Before Bernard Darfour came to Iowa State University (ISU) for his PhD in Industrial and Agricultural Technology, he was working toward a Master’s degree in Radiation Processing at the University of Ghana and researching gamma rays. Gamma rays are produced by the most energy-intensive phenomena in our universe like supernova explosions and black holes. Gamma rays are also found on Earth as part of nuclear explosions, radioactive decay and lightening. Bernard was harnessing the gamma ray to see ‘how it would enhance post-harvest storage, and the characteristics of the gamma-processed cowpea’. After completing his Master’s degree, Bernard took a job at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission in the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, where he worked as a research scientist for almost five years before coming to ISU.
At ISU, Bernard is working with Dr. Kurt Rosentrater to design a simple device that can be used by smallholder farmers in Ghana to improve food storage. Moving from gamma rays, which can only be safely used in a state-of-the-art laboratory, to a simple storage device for farmers will be a considerable research shift for Bernard. But he wants his ‘research to improve food security in Ghana’ and for him, ‘when farmers are able to safely store their produce and have food for the whole year, food security will be improved.’
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