Global Stratification

PhotosynQ – Helping a Developing World via Agriculture

Christopher presenting and demonstrating how PhotosynQ works

Christopher presenting and demonstrating how PhotosynQ works

This month in Berkley California, the TechCon conference innovators blew the city away introducing new technology and ideas to spread the word about many global issues. One of those inventions is called the PhotosynQ – a handheld device that can read the health of plants, soil, and seeds. So how can this tool help solve social inequalities and strive to stop global stratification? That is what MSU student researcher, Christopher Zatzke tackled at this incredible conference.

Christopher spent the weekend conversing with brilliant minds about how this device could potentially change the face of agriculture all over the world – especially those in developing countries. In Christopher’s plan, the PhotosynQ device would be given to planters in poverty-stricken countries who would learn how to use the device and take readings from their crops. In return, the PhotosynQ team would reimburse the farmers for each reading they took. In a country where money is very limited, five cents for each reading could make an astonishing difference in their lives. Additionally, the PhotosynQ will be able to tell the agriculturalist how their plants are

The PhotosynQ Device

The PhotosynQ Device

doing, and also provide insight and research to the PhotosynQ team. From here, they could use PhotosynQ’s findings to pursue how they could grow the plants more effectively, if need be.

To put the PhotosynQ in simple terms it is basically a handheld device that can connect to your mobile device and provide fluorescence and absorbance measurements on photosynthetic plants. These measurements help with research such as, but not limited to, plant breeding and plant proficiency. However, currently the existing technologies for doing such research costs too much for developing countries. The PhotosynQ is the key to helping developing countries acquire such technology and education.

Explaining how PhotosynQ works

Explaining how PhotosynQ works

In the world, half of our population is living on less than $2 per day. For example in Liberia, the GNI, or Gross National Income, is only $790 (American dollars) with a population of 4.4 million people. Farmers in Liberia would be given the chance to earn money for providing the readings from their crops. If they could take ten readings a day, and were paid five cents per reading that would not only be an extra fifty cents per day, but also help them understand how their plants are doing and how they can improve their crops via PhotosynQ technology.

The PhotosynQ in action

The PhotosynQ in action

1The Modernization Theory persuaded by the Functionalist perspective, says that poor countries are poor because they have not yet adopted modern technologies or cultural values that Core Countries* have. Still, the Functionalist perspective states that everything in our society must work together as a unit to succeed. Therefore, you could argue that the wealthy countries should be pulling together to help developing countries live in the ways that we take for granted. In developing countries things such as electricity, medicine, matches, etc. could be the difference between life and death.

“The Conference was an eye opening experience, to see how many global issues there really are. The PhotosynQ is essentially a form of micro-tasking for agricultural data. Micro-tasking is the idea of trading a small amount of money for a small task in return. There are programs that exist such as the tagging of monarch butterflies and the compensation of Mexican citizens for finding and documenting those tagged butterflies. With PhotosynQ, scientists will be able to view data collected from all over the world, changing how we think about plants on a global level.” –Christopher Zatzke

The PhotosynQ holds so much potential including its ability to help set developing countries on their feet, as well as help scientists expand on their knowledge of agriculture around the world. While at the conference Christopher’s presentations won the audience choice award and was also chosen to take part in Venturewell’s development process which will help lead him to further funding opportunities for PhotosynQ. As their website says, at, “Chris rocked” the conference. The PhotosnyQ in an incredible device that could positively change the developing world as we know it. Please consider visiting their website for additional information and maybe even donating towards the science of PhotosynQ.

— Kari, author

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