Vanaja Kankarla is an Assistant Professor - Soil Science in the Department of Marine and Earth Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), Fort Myers, Florida. She was born and grew up in southern India, Hyderabad. She was raised in a highly disciplined Army family, she grew up traveling across India and was always surrounded by cosmopolitan culture. She discovered her interest in agricultural science while working with rural Indian communities. Dr. Kankarla graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural University, India.
In 2013, she moved to the US to pursue a Master’s degree in Plant and Soil Sciences from Tennessee State University, Nashville TN. In 2019, she graduated with her doctorate in Plant and Environmental Science from New Mexico State University. Dr. Kankarla completed her two years of postdoctoral research at Texas A&M University, and in 2022, she began an Assistant Professor appointment in the Marine and Earth Science Department at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Her research combines agronomy, soil science, crop-weed nutrient management, and competition studies, and developing decision support tools for solving agricultural and environmental challenges. She loves to work with students who are enthusiastic about research. She enjoys teaching, mentoring, and watching curious young minds learn and grow.
Over the last few years, her work has been recognized with many awards, including the 2022 Postdoctoral Research Award in recognition of outstanding research from the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M University, the 2019 Dean’s Award of Excellence in recognition of outstanding graduate student achievement from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, NMSU, and the 2018 ‘Young Innovators Creating a Better World for All’ award by the Women Economic Forum (WEF). She has been associated with ASA-CSA-AASA for many years now and she is engaged with various committees within the ASA societies. She is a review editor on the editorial board of Agrosystems, Geosciences, and Environment (AGE), Associate Editor of the Journal of Environmental Quality (JEQ), and a review panelist on Natural Sciences Education (NSE), Journal of the American Society of Agronomy. She is exploring her way while showcasing her research by taking up new leadership roles in society. Finally, Dr. Kankarla has positioned herself as one of agricultural science’s most promising young women scientists.