Going Forth To Serve

Nepal, nestled between China to the north and India to the south, attracts thousands of mountaineers every year to scale its majestic heights, some hoping to ascend Mount Everest by way of the relatively less challenging southeast ridge on the mountain’s Nepali side. Born in Tandi, Chitwan, Sudeep Ghimire hails from the country’s fertile southern plains. Agriculture in this region accounts for approximately 40 percent of Nepal’s gross domestic product. This student of genetics and biotechnology at BYU grew up appreciating the region’s importance to the Nepali economy and planning to study abroad in order to bring cutting-edge research on agricultural development back to his country.

The youngest of three children, Ghimire speaks fondly of the “healthy and caring environment” in which his parents and grandparents raised him. He thrived academically, so when a friend in Nepal told him about BYU, Ghimire began to learn about the university. “I found out that it would be the ideal place for my study,” he says. Not only did he hear friends praise the safety of the campus, but he also learned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helps to make tuition affordable for “people like us from developing countries.” Once at the university, Ghimire quickly found a place for himself in the College of Life Sciences. “I went to high school for two years majoring in biology,” he says. “I knew I wanted to study something advanced and demanding in the field, so I chose genetics and biotechnology.” He hasn’t been at the university long—just over a year—but he’s already deeply involved in research that could improve the lives of those who grow and subsist on Nepali crops.

“Even though Nepal is an agricultural country, there has been little advancement in agriculture,” Ghimire explains. “People still depend on the traditional ways of farming.” He continued, “Nepal has to depend on India to get the new breeds of plants and other biotechnological equipment, which is expensive. ” But he sees in this condition reason to be inspired, not discouraged. Thanks to his education and field experience at BYU, he says, “I could be one of the members of a team working for the advancement of agricultural aspects of
"Biotechnology has great potential for the development of our country and poverty alleviation."
the country with my own ideas on plant breeding and biotechnology.” Someday soon, Ghimire hopes to work with other agencies researching agricultural solutions in the area, like the Biotechnology Society of Nepal, the Nepal Agricultural Research Council, or the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. He is optimistic about where such efforts could lead. “Biotechnology has great potential for the development of our country and poverty alleviation,” he says.

At BYU, Ghimire has found the perfect balance of classroom and hands-on experience. Currently, he is a research assistant in the Plant Genetics and Biotechnology Lab, where he works with Dr. Craig Coleman, professor in the Plant and Wildlife Sciences Department, and Dr. Susan Meyer of the USDA, also an adjunct professor in PWS. Ghimire says this experience has helped him to develop his capability to “think critically and to resolve problems.” Sudeep is gaining something more – a belief in his ability to make a real difference in the world. “I want to do research on plant breeding back in Nepal with my own lab generating high yield crop species and helping farmers to advance their methods,” he says. “Working in the lab is raising my confidence about working and researching in the future.” With the confidence and education he gains at BYU, Ghimire won’t just produce better work and research – he’ll change lives.

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by Mary Eyring