Nadia Shakoor Wants to Change the Face of Farming with Drones

Photo collage of 2023 TGI Fellows.

Several years ago, Nadia Shakoor went looking for something that didn’t exist. As a breeding and genetics researcher at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Shakoor was measuring how crops grew under specific conditions. She sent students with clipboards into muddy fields to record, for example, plant height and soil moisture. She wondered: Is there a single tool that could automate these tasks? Turns out there wasn’t, so she and her team invented one, the PheNode. Then, in July, she won a $1.4 million federal grant to enhance that platform by adding an autonomous drone. The new tool, dubbed the FieldDock, is 100 percent solar powered—and has some farmers salivating.