At Sound Agriculture, we are creating positive changes in the way we grow food by making plants more resilient and adaptable to change. Our success in achieving this goal relies on the exceptional quality of our products, something that Azania Selden focuses on every day.
Azania is Sound’s lead Quality Assurance Specialist. A brilliant scientist and critical thinker, she is an expert at creating systems that ensure product quality and customer satisfaction. As one of the company’s first employees, Azania has witnessed Sound’s exciting growth firsthand. Here she shares her perspectives on the magic of plant science, adaptability, and the future of sustainable agriculture.
What do you do for Sound?
My official title is Quality Assurance Specialist. I’m an analytical chemist by training, and started at Sound as a research associate. I prepare the quality plans for all our products, putting systems in place that ensure that our suppliers and manufacturers understand our expectations and that we deliver products of the highest caliber.
Complete this sentence: The magic of plant science lies in _____.
The magic of plant science lies in working with plants, rather than trying to force them to do something they’re not meant to do. That’s what our research is all about. We know that plants have these natural mechanisms. Instead of putting chemicals on them to change their function, we work with the plant, we work with the soil, and we work with the environment to accomplish a goal.
If you were a plant what kind of plant would you be and why?
I would be a venus flytrap. I have one on my desk and I think the adaptability of these plants is so interesting. As it evolved, the venus fly trap reached a point at which change was necessary. It was in a swamp and wasn’t getting enough nutrients. Rather than die, the plant created a whole new system of feeding. I find that fascinating. I relate because I’m super adaptable too.
What has been your proudest moment during your time at Sound?
I think I was most proud when I was asked to work in quality. Previously in my career, I worked for a large company and felt fairly trapped in one role there. I’m proud that at Sound, we’re small enough that people can recognize that you’re doing good work and you can easily transition to a new role. That’s really exciting for me. I have not known many people in their careers that have been able to make a change like that. And the recognition means a lot.
What do you foresee as the future of sustainable agriculture?
People will be looking at new varieties of agricultural plants. At this point, in the US we’re stuck on certain crops. We want tomatoes that look a certain way and we use wheat all the time. We’re not really open to using the other types of grains that are available. My hope is that going forward, we’ll look to other countries that have what we would consider exotic agriculture and bring those crops into our system. As the environment changes, there are many other plants that are more efficient. Just introducing new cultivars and not sticking to the same plants that everyone has been growing for the last 50 years would be a huge step forward.
Why dedicate your days to this work?
I feel like every day my work is making an actual world difference. I don’t think that many people can say that about what they’re doing day-to-day. Our team is reducing the amount of fertilizer growers put on fields, and I definitely feel like I’m contributing to that. That aspect of the Sound mission and vision reflects my personal values. It’s helped me wrestle with the idea of what sustainability means in hard terms. It’s a surprisingly nebulous word. I like that we’re trying to define sustainability with science and produce real world results.
Do you have a favorite food?
I’ve been craving uni lately. Sea urchin is so creamy and savory and I love both the texture and flavor. You can pair it with so many things! I also love to cook. My favorite thing to cook at home is chicken and dumplings. It’s comfort food.