WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. -- The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced 17 inaugural recipients of the FFAR Fellows award, which will allow graduate students to pursue research in food and agriculture science.

As part of the program, the students participated in a weeklong training course at North Carolina State University.

“The future of agriculture relies on training a strong scientific workforce,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey, Ph.D. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to support the next generation of food and agriculture researchers and I am excited to see how the FFAR Fellows will grow through this program.”

The $2.7 million FFAR grant was matched by a consortium of industry leaders dedicated to preparing the agricultural workforce to optimize impact on the future of agriculture science. The program will award two additional groups of students in 2019 and 2020. A team at North Carolina State University manages the FFAR Fellows program.

The 17 fellows were selected from more than 100 applicants.

The FFAR Fellows Program pairs doctoral candidates with academic and industry mentors to equip students with the skills needed to facilitate their transition to the workforce.

Awards were granted in two funding categories. Stipend and Professional Development Fellows receive fully-funded support for three years to pursue research projects and interdisciplinary training.

Professional Development Fellows have support secured for academic studies and will use the FFAR Fellow award to participate in the three-year interdisciplinary training program.

The following individuals received a 2018 FFAR Fellow award:

  • Lovepreet Singh, University of Maryland: His research aims to understand the mechanism behind Fusarium Head Blight resistance in wheat and develop management practices to help mitigate this disease.
  • Mary Ortiz Castro, Colorado State University: Her research seeks solutions to combat bacterial leaf streak in corn by understanding the ecology of the disease and creating an integrated management program.
  • Jiayang (Kevin) Xie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: His research aims to increase drought tolerance in plants through methods that do not decrease productivity.
  • Suneru Perera, University of Saskatchewan (U of S): His research explores new processing techniques to expand the uses of canary seed, a cereal grain that was approved for human consumption by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health Canada in 2016.
  • Abby Barker, Colorado State University: Her research project aims to understand herbicide resistance in weeds and develop recommendations for sustainable herbicide management practices.
  • Lindsey Becker, North Carolina State University: Her research examines the beneficial relationship between Mortierella elongate, a fungus that breaks down organic matter in soil, and tomato plants.
  • Francesco Cappai, University of Florida: His research uses new breeding techniques to develop blueberries that are machine harvestable.
  • Zach Dashner, Pennsylvania State University: His research aims to understand iron uptake from soil in cacao plants.
  • Alison Deviney, North Carolina State University: Her research aims to improve manure management in livestock operations.
  • Jeremie Favre, University of Wisconsin-Madison: His research will explore best management practices to maintain seed yield of Kernza over time.
  • Shelby Hoglund, University of Arizona: Her research aims to quantify the benefits of using green waste recycling to improve soil health, conserve irrigation water, and improve agricultural productivity.
  • Annie Krueger, University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Her research will develop agricultural land management practices to improve the health of Monarch butterfly populations.
  • Morgan Mathison, Michigan State University: Her research explores how using Adaptive Multi-paddock (AMP) grazing influences the health and wellbeing of farmers who adopt the practice.
  • Maci Mueller, University of California, Davis: Her research aims to improve the distribution of elite cattle genetics through new breeding technologies.
  • Camilo Parada Rojas, North Carolina State University: His research aims to develop sweet potato varieties that are resistant to black rot.
  • Ananda Portela Fontoura, Cornell University: In partnership with her industry sponsor Vetagro, she will work to define nutritional therapies that can improve the metabolic health and productivity of dairy cows at the onset of lactation and when exposed to heat stress.
  • Jaimie Strickland, Michigan State University: Her research explores how micronutrients can improve health of dairy cattle.