Shawn Conley

University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Shawn Conley shares about the versatility of soybeans and his children’s book Coolbean the Soybean.

Seed World: What’s your favorite film?
Shawn Conley: My favorite movie is The Sound of Music. I fondly remember sitting on my grandma’s lap when I was young, eating popcorn and watching this movie with her every year. As I got older this yearly tradition also got me out of milking cows so we could watch it together.

SW: Why did you choose to work specifically with soybeans?
SC: Soybean is an incredibly versatile and complicated crop. I always joke anyone can grow 300 bu corn that’s easy! It takes a real scientist to consistently grow 100 bu beans! Furthermore my favorite saying and tagline is “Coolbeans” so it was kismet.

SW: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
SC: My biggest academic accomplishment is writing the kids book Coolbean the Soybean. I wanted to develop a fun, yet educational, tool to help teach today’s youth about where food comes from, career opportunities in agriculture, and explain why soybeans are so important, not only here in the U.S., but around the world. Hopefully this book can help inspire the next generation of agricultural scientists.

SW: What’s your favorite hobby?
SC: I love duck hunting! Being out on the water with my family, friends and dog Sadie is what I look forward to every year!

SW: What’s your latest research project?
SC: I am co-leading with Dr. Patricio Grassini a multi-state yield gap project funded by the NCSRP and WSMB. The project goal is to identify the key factors that preclude the State’s Soybean Producers from obtaining yields that should be potentially possible on their respective individual farms.

SW: Who was your biggest mentor?
SC: Dr. Bill Wiebold at the University of Missouri has been great! I reach out to him when I need advice and he is always willing to share. The best advice he ever gave me was “Don’t read your press clippings”

SW: What research has you most excited right now?
SC: I am excited to see how RNAi and CRISPer technology influence soybean management.