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Concept of making money in ag with $20 bills in ripe wheat. Singh_Lens/ThinkstockPhotos

USDA awards $12.6 million to train ag researchers in 35 states

Projects funded include monitoring water quality and examine Angus genetics.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $12.6 million 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.”

Who got fellowships?

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 predoctoral fellowship at Washington State University to understand how genes regulate freezing tolerance in wheat.  
  • A postdoctoral fellowship at Iowa State University to examine the role genetics play in response to vaccination of purebred Angus cattle.
  • A full list of fellowship recipients can be found online at the NIFA website.

Among past fellowships, a postdoctoral fellow converted her fellowship into a standard grant, developing her own research laboratory at the University of Richmond. She provided additional training and professional development opportunities to 16 undergraduate students while examining the southward spread of the invasive gypsy moth.

A predoctoral fellow at Colorado State University was able to extend his understanding in plant disease resistance through bioinformatics and agricultural experiences with collaborators at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. 

What is AFRI?

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 K-14 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.

Source: NIFA

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