Impact on a Hungry Planet

John Harada and John Tran

Working with UC Davis plant biology professor John Harada has inspired student John Tran to help feed the global population – a number that’s expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050.

Harada and Tran study how nutritious components in seeds are synthesized, and their work in understanding the proteins that interact to initiate maturation can help make more nutritious food to feed the planet.

With Harada’s support, Tran applied for and received a travel scholarship from the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2013. “I had an eye-opening experience on the spectrum of plant research and its important global implications,” he says.

As a transfer student, Tran hopes his experiences provide inspiration and guidance to other transfers as well as awareness of the programs and resources that are available to help students succeed.  He is active in the McNair Scholars and the Davis Honors Challenge, and was also part of the founding class for the only co-ed honors fraternity on campus, Phi Sigma Pi.

Harada focuses on future student achievements as his legacy at UC Davis.  “I have impacted my area of research, classroom teaching and the biology curriculum here. However, these contributions cannot match the potential impact that my students will have on science and society.” He also commends the many mentors at UC Davis who helped shape his career.

In addition to plant biology, Harada is passionate about innovative pedagogy and about increasing diversity among the UC Davis faculty and science in general.

“Dr. Harada has taught me a lot about the value of critical thinking, especially of formulating the right questions to ask,” Tran says. “Working with him has greatly impacted my life and my decision to pursue graduate school, and the work has the potential to greatly impact the world.”