Interview with Felix Navarro
Felix Navarro, research manager/superintendent, Hancock Agricultural Research Station
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor
“I started my education in agronomy at Instituto Politecnico Loyola (IPL) in the Dominican Republic,” says Felix Navarro, research manager and superintendent of the Hancock Agricultural Research Station in Hancock, Wisconsin.
“This was a Jesuit community college that combined, in five years, a solid high school diploma with several years of professional training,” he explains.
“At IPL, my advisor was Pedro Comalat, a professor from Spain who had worked at Pioneer Hi-Bred in Johnston, Iowa. He was a devoted corn breeder and avid statistician who helped me understand many key scientific principles,” Navarro credits.
“I gained an interest in plant breeding by interacting with Dr. Comalat, as well as during my introduction to genetics and plant breeding classes with Julio Cicero and Rafael Perez-Duvergé,” he says.
Navarro was raised in a working-class family, his dad initially employed as a lumberjack in Azua, Dominican Republic, and eventually moving to Santo Domingo and later Cristóbal where he held several jobs to support three boys, two girls and Felix’s mother.
“I am the fourth in a family of five kids; I was the only one in my family to get a university degree, going all the way for a Ph.D.,” Navarro states. “I may have made up for all the years the whole family owed to academia. Or maybe, I just did not have the skills and talents my brothers had.”
“One of them, Pedro, is a skillful mechanic and car body repair worker and the other, Juan, is a driver/administrative assistant,” he says, “and my living sister, Luz, is an amazing tailor.”