Soybean field
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $18 million in available funding to foster the next generation of agricultural science professionals. Funding is made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“There is a significant shortfall in the number of qualified applicants for jobs in agriculture-related fields,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “NIFA investments are strengthening the pathways to these jobs, from engaging more primary school students in STEM education all the way to fellowships for new scientists in the agricultural research, extension, and education arena.” 

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative 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. In 2017, 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:
  • professional development opportunities for K-14 teachers and education professionals;
  • training of undergraduate students in research and extension; and
  • fellowships for pre-doctoral and postdoctoral candidates.

The application due dates are:

  • Professional Development for Secondary School Teachers and Educational Professionals: June 28, 2017
  • Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates: June 28, 2017
  • Pre-doctoral Fellowships: June 21, 2017
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships: June 21, 2017

Applications may only be submitted by eligible entities. Eligibility is linked to the project type. See the request for applications for details.

Among recent projects, the University of California Santa Cruz created a research and mentoring fellowship program for underrepresented undergraduate students in agricultural-related fields.  A recent postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Houston used a combination of mathematical methods to evaluate the interplay of host and pathogen genetics. The postdoctoral fellow is now an assistant professor at a major research university.