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USDA Announces the First Class of NIFA Fellows

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded 54 fellowships to pre- and post-doctoral students in the first class of NIFA Fellows, to train and develop the next generation of agricultural, forestry and food scientists.

“We need to train the next generation of agricultural scientists today so they can provide the leadership and innovation to solve the challenges of the future,” said Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “These grants are USDA’s down payment on our nation’s continued agricultural success, sustainability and well-being. We wish these recipients all the best as they continue their studies.”

NIFA funds the NIFA Fellows program through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The goal of the program is to support the intellectual talent needed to meet the challenges facing the nation’s agriculture, natural resource, and food systems, which requires innovative approaches in research, education and extension. In this first year of funding, $6 million was awarded to 54 students from 32 universities. The awards will help pre- and post-doctoral students develop their careers as researchers and educators. Projects span the five AFRI challenge areas (global food security, climate change, food safety, childhood obesity prevention and sustainable energy)

Fellowships were awarded to students in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Fiscal year 2010 highlights include:

  • A pre-doctoral fellowship at Pennsylvania State University to study implications of developing regional and sustainable food systems.
  • A post-doctoral fellowship at Emory University to identify the routes of microbial contamination on imported fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • A post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas to research potential adaptive traits in the bioenergy crop switchgrass.
  • A post-doctoral fellowship at Northern Arizona University to develop a model simulating future fire behavior in forests on Hualapai tribal lands.


A full list of awardees can be found online at

AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI supports work in six priority areas: plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.  More information is at


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).