Michael's nontraditional path to horticulture allows him to use technology while working outdoors

An advanced degree in horticulture allows Michael to blend his love of horticulture with his background in remote sensing and data analysis.

Michael Metiva

Michael Metiva is working on his M.S. in Horticulture with research focused on applications of drone imagery in vegetable crop production.  He earned B.S. degrees in physics and economics from Michigan State University prior to graduate school in horticulture.

Why did you choose Horticulture as your advanced degree?

Throughout my first few working years, I learned that the jobs I enjoyed the most involved working outside and creating tangible results. I inadvertently discovered an ideal combination of these factors when a physics assistantship ended halfway through the summer and I had to find another job. I ended up working as an undergraduate research assistant in weed science, and from then on I was hooked. After finishing my undergraduate degrees, I knew getting an advanced degree in Horticulture would allow me to continue doing the type of work that I love (and learn to grow good food!)

What has been the best experience in grad school so far?

The camaraderie you develop with people doing field work is amazing, and my first summer in this program I realized that I woke up every day looking forward to doing honest work with good people. Leading such a group in work on my own field experiment, which I had worked hard with my committee to design and plan for, was even more gratifying on account of the people I got to do it with.

What is the best selling point about horticulture and your choice to study it at MSU that you would like others to know?

Horticulture is an incredibly broad field encompassing everything from managing weeds and landscape trees to fine-tuning grow lights and analyzing high-res imagery, so I think anyone can find an interesting niche in which they could apply their unique skills. As for studying at MSU, its long history as an agricultural college means we have access to quality resources like research farms, grower collaborators, and extension services that are hard to find elsewhere.

What are your future plans (i.e. – what would be your ideal job after you graduate)?

I’ve had an untraditional path to horticulture in part due to my struggles to narrow down my interests. Once I complete my degree, I would like to find a job in Michigan agriculture that allows me to blend my love of horticulture with my background in remote sensing and data analysis. Working in commercial agricultural research or precision agriculture consulting sound the most appealing right now, but we’ll see what happens!


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