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NIFA Celebrates Women and Girls in Science

NIFA Celebrates Women and Girls in Science

Nifa Authors
Rachel Dotson, Public Affairs Specialist (Social Media)

International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated on February 11 to recognize women and girls who are making advancements in the science field.

Today and every day, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is proud to support the strong current and future leaders in science. Read below a few examples of NIFA-funded projects led by women and information about how NIFA supports the future leaders.

Auburn University postdoctoral fellow Sarah Carey in the College of Agriculture, Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, is developing genomic tools to sustainably accelerate hop breeding programs. An increasing popularity of craft breweries has led to a steady growth of the beer industry in the United States. To meet the demand, breweries need a consistent supply of barley, hops, and yeast. As a result, scientists and breeders are working to increase hop production by creating new varieties of hops. With these new genomic resources, Carey plans to help establish new varieties of hops that can grow in Alabama’s climate and environment. Read more about Carey’s hop project here.

Cornell University Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences associate professor Michelle Heck, and Cornell University graduate student Stephanie Presing are studying an invasive polerovirus cotton leafroll dwarf virus that is an emerging threat to cotton in the U.S. In 2017, Auburn University estimated the virus affected 25% of Alabama's cotton with an average yield loss of 4%, which collectively cost farmers $19 million. This research team is developing a diagnostics tool to detect it as part of a USDA Agricultural Research Service project. Read more here.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service created the South Carolina 4-H Engineering Challenge to provide a safe learning environment where youth can gain valuable life skills, develop an interest in and knowledge of science, and learn about careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In South Carolina, only 11% of women high school graduates are ready for college STEM instruction. The statistics are worse for African American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic youth at 2%, 4%, 3% and 8%, respectively. Since it began in 2013, the competition has reached more than 1,300 youth and grown to approximately 250 participants annually. Read more here.

Learn more about NIFA’s Women and Minorities in STEM Fields Grant Program here.


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