NIFA funds $18m for ag science professionals

Investments intended to strengthen pathway to jobs in agriculture-related fields.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) announced $18 million in available funding to foster the next generation of agricultural science professionals, via NIFA’s Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

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

AFRI, authorized by the 2014 farm bill, 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 fiscal 2017, AFRI’s Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources & Human Sciences Education & Literacy Initiative seeks to boost the number of qualified graduates in the food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences through support for:

  • Professional development opportunities for K-14 teachers and educational professionals;
  • Training of undergraduate students in research and extension, and
  • Fellowships for pre-doctoral and postdoctoral candidates.

The application due dates are:

  • June 28, 2017, for Professional Development for Secondary School Teachers & Educational Professionals;
  • June 28, 2017, for Research & Extension Experiences for Undergraduates;
  • June 21, 2017, for pre-doctoral fellowships, and
  • June 21, 2017, for postdoctoral fellowships.

Applications may be submitted by eligible entities only. 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 agriculture-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.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension and promotes transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA's support for the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel has resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability and ensure food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit, sign up for email updates or follow it on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.

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