Get to Know Itxaso Garay, Associate Scientist


Itxaso Garay believes that sustainable agriculture can change the world. That’s one reason she enjoys her work as an associate scientist at Sound Agriculture. Her efforts in the greenhouse and in the laboratory help her to create positive changes in the way we grow food by making plants more resilient and adaptable.

She’s curious, reflective, and wildly intelligent — characteristics that help her make key discoveries on projects involving soil microbes, new cultivation methods, and the improvement of crop traits using new breeding technology.

What do you do for Sound Agriculture?

I work on the research and development team. I’ve worked on almost all of the different types of projects that we have going on in the lab. Recently, I started working more on soils, where I do a lot of microbial work. But I have also spent a lot of time working on our on-demand breeding platform. I’ve seen our work evolve from projects with a handful of tomatoes to contracts with all kinds of crops, including tomato, basil, corn, and soy. Since quarantine, I’ve been spending more time in the greenhouse doing some of the maintenance, pruning, and coordinating. 

What about plants interests you and why?

I think I started working with plants because I have a passion for environmental systems and nature. After graduating from college in 2018, I began focusing on agriculture and the environment. I like the idea that the produce and food that we consume is the closest that most of us will come to touching nature on any given day.

But also, plants are just so hard to work with and interesting. Learning how each plant’s biology works is a huge challenge with a steep learning curve. 

Do you have a favorite crop to work with?

I’ve worked with a lot of tomatoes, but I think that basil is my favorite… basically it’s easy to grow and it smells really good. There are so many different varieties and they are all beautiful beautiful.

What do you foresee as the future of sustainable agriculture?

Ideally, I want agriculture to be a tool that drives positive shifts in the way that people and the planet are treated. I see an industry that can’t afford to not take sustainability seriously. I want to see equitable solutions that are driven by science-based decisions and people power. I think agricultural technology supplements that vision. 

Why dedicate your days to this work?

I love plants. I also love working with and being around the incredible people on my team. 

Also, I think that sustainable agriculture is fundamental to improving things on this planet. I think that there’s a need for growth and an enormous potential to change and improve agriculture. There’s a huge opportunity for impact and that’s what excites me most.

Which of Sound’s employee values is most inspiring to you?

Respect. Respect for myself, my coworkers, our customer base, and for the Earth is primary. It’s what drives all of the other values for me. 

If you were a plant, what kind of a plant would you be?

I would be a coastal mangrove. I love the coast and the marine environment. Mangroves have unique characteristics that make them so different from other plants. They have adaptations for the low oxygen, poor nutrient availability, and super saline conditions they live in. And I love that they’re such an incredible habitat for so many different creatures.