Meet Basia Latawiec, SCAPES Research Coordinator and Project Manager

Basia Latawiec is an iSEE Research Program Coordinator and Project Manager of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded SCAPES (Sustainably Colocating Agricultural and Photovoltaic Electricity Systems) Agrivoltaics project. Before joining the institute, she was a research scientist at the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center at the University of Illinois for nearly a decade.

Basia received her Bachelor of Science in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois, as well as her Master’s degree in Business. Her undergraduate ecology and conservation courses were what fueled her interest in sustainability.

After migrating to the U.S. from Poland, Basia found herself more mindful of sustainability than ever before.

“The lifestyle here in the United States does not match (the sustainable practices that are commonplace) in Poland,” she said. She became interested in figuring out how to best promote the sustainable habits from her home country. Purchasing local foods, conserving water, and connecting with local farmers are all standard practices in Poland, and Basia hopes to see U.S. communities normalize these practices as well.

Basia realized that her passion for sustainability could be implemented into her professional life as well. When she learned about iSEE, she knew it was a perfect fit for her.

Her responsibilities at the institute include communication and administration for the SCAPES project. The team is researching agrivoltaic systems — fields with both crops and solar panels — in a variety of land and climate types. The project aims to address fundamental climate change challenges while increasing crop production, producing renewable energy, and maximizing farm profitability. Basia and the rest of the SCAPES team work internally alongside the researchers, but also externally with stakeholders, farmers, industry representatives, policy makers, conservation groups, and more.

“The work ethic, and respect that (team members) have for each other’s work and time allows for efficient and creative ideas to come out,” she said.

Basia is an artist and a violinist — in her free time, she might be found playing for local orchestras in area venues or painting at home. She also loves to cook and spend time with her family.

Article by iSEE Communications Intern Kratika Tandon