The World Vegetable Center is an international not-for-profit research and development institute committed to alleviating poverty and malnutrition in the developing world through the increased production and consumption of health-promoting vegetables. Abdul Rasheed War is a Visiting Scientist at the World Vegetable Center and SelectScience reviewer.
What are you working on?
I work in the field of insect-plant interaction, host plant interactions, induced resistance in plants, tritophic interactions, plant secondary metabolites, plant volatiles etc.
Tell us what a typical day looks like for you…
On a typical day, I reach my lab at 8AM and then get to work in the fields and in the glasshouse. There are also some meetings as well, sometimes. The rest of the day involves reading literature on research which goes on until 6PM. At home, after getting some rest, I usually search for more literature on my laptop. That is how a day goes…
What inspired you to get into the world of science?
Initially, I was attracted to insect diversity. This then moved on to insect pests and, ultimately, to insect pest management and insect plant interactions. Agriculture and the dynamics between insects and plants are really fascinating!
How did you get into your specific field of work?
In the exciting journey of research in entomology and insect pest management, initially I landed in the field of botanical pesticides and insect pest management. This was not very attractive for me. After reading through a research paper on insect-plant systems, it was amazing to see that the defense systems of plants were as dynamic as those of animals. Thus began my quest for the exciting field of insect-plant interaction, where I finally find myself today..
"The dynamics between insects and plants are really fascinating!"
Why are reviews important?
When we look for an instrument, we do a lot of literature searching and compare a number of vendors before we select the product we want. It’s a huge task to get quotes from vendors and then discuss which instrument is the best and most trustworthy with colleagues. Reviews reduce the burden of going through this process. Reviews are very important when selecting an appropriate instrument. They save time and, most importantly, they’re a trustworthy source of information.
Why is communication in science key?
Communication keeps us up to date with new discoveries, innovations and all the research work across the globe. It’s very important to distribute research amongst peers. It reduces the duplication of research and prevents research work from being carried out that’s redundant before it’s completed. Science communication provides a stronger understanding of current research: its trials, tribulations and its relevance to society. Good science communication would spark meaningful debates, discussion and give science a strong position in society.
What’s the most innovative piece of lab equipment you use?
It's Shimadzu's GCMS-QP2020. I have found it very exciting in terms of identifying newer molecules in plants and insects that affect the communications between them. It is really great to find new chemicals that are toxic to insects and can play an important role in insect pest management.
What’s your favorite piece of lab equipment?
Who is your hero in science and why?
My supervisor, Dr. Hari C Sharma, former chairman of International Congress of Entomology, has been my hero in research. He has been a great researcher throughout his life. Although old, he is very young in his research.
What’s the biggest story in science right now?
In my field, the biggest story right now is insect pest management. These insects have caused havoc across the globe and exact a heavy toll on farmers’ crops every year. In addition, indiscriminate and injudicious use of pesticides has affected human health badly. There is great need to develop a safe and effective strategy to combat insect pests.
Complete this sentence: In my lifetime, I’d like science to achieve...
A safe and nutritious food that we would all really like to eat that would also bring smiles to the faces of farmers…