USDA Announces $12.6M to Train Next Generation of Ag Scientists

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $12.6 million will be available to support the training of 55 doctoral candidates and 52 postdoctoral scholars. Funding is made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Agricultural science depends on new ideas and new perspectives,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “NIFA support for these predoctoral and postdoctoral candidates is helping foster an inclusive arena and cultivate future agricultural science leaders who can solve future food challenges.”

AFRI is America’s flagship competitive grants program that provides funding for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. AFRI’s Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative (ELI) seeks to boost the number of qualified graduates in the food, agriculture, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences through support for teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars. Predoctoral fellowships support doctoral candidates as they conduct dissertation research. Postdoctoral fellowships support the work of early career scientists. All AFRI fellowships support research, education, extension, or integrated projects in the AFRI Farm Bill priority areas of plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition, and health; bioenergy, natural resources, and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.

Fellowships were awarded to students in 35 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Among the fellowships:

  • A postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University to investigate new approaches to monitoring water quality in rivers near agricultural facilities.
  • A predoctoral fellowship at Rutgers University to develop environmental DNA surveillance strategies to detect exotic agricultural insect pests.
  • A postdoctoral fellowship at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to identify cover crops for organic farming to conserve soil and manage pests and weeds.

A full list of fellowship recipients can be found online at the NIFA website.
Funds to Increase Diversity in Agriculture Sciences

NIFA also announced $945,400 in available funding to help foster the next generation of multicultural scholars in agricultural sciences.  Funding is made through NIFA’s Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program.

“The Multicultural Scholars Program seeks to help young people reach their potential in the agricultural sciences,” Ramaswamy said. “It is important to develop the most diverse talent pool possible and show these students the abundant opportunities in the agricultural sector.”

The Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program helps colleges and universities recruit and retain

multicultural scholars who may pursue degrees in food and agricultural sciences. Projects may involve scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training of committed, eligible multicultural scholars.

Eligible applicants include land-grant institutions, colleges and universities with significant minority enrollments and the capacity to teach food and agricultural sciences, and other colleges and universities with the capacity to teach food and agricultural sciences. Additionally, research foundations maintained by an eligible college or university are eligible to submit undergraduate and/or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) training proposals under this request for applications. Applicants should be institutions that confer an undergraduate or DVM degree in at least one of the disciplines in the food and agricultural sciences.

The deadline for applications is Oct. 31. See the request for applications for details.

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