NIFA Update May 2

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                            May 2, 2018

Making a Difference

Scientists are making cellulose beads as a biodegradable alternative to the plastic microbeads. Photo provided by University of Bath

New Eco-Friendly Microbeads Could Save Oceans, Rather than Destroy Them

Microbeads don’t have to be bad for the environment. Scientists are coming up with tiny beads made from materials naturally found in plants, algae, and shellfish. Others could absorb pollution, and even mop up a chemical in sunscreen that’s deadly to corals from water along beaches and near reefs. The report was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research. NIFA provided funding through the Center for Education and Training in Agricultural and Related Sciences. Read the full Popular Science article.

Scientists are making cellulose beads as a biodegradable alternative to the plastic microbeads in face and body washes. Photo provided by University of Bath.


SNAP-Ed Program Development Team Members

2018 SNAP-ED Program Development Team Meeting Highlights

The annual meeting of the Land-grant Universities SNAP-Ed Program Development Team (PDT) was held in Alexandria, Virginia in April. Representatives from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Cooperative Extension and Experiment Station Sections met with current and incoming members of the development team. The team reviewed progress on their strategic plan and developed goals for the upcoming year. See the highlights of the meeting at eXtension online.

2018 SNAP-Ed Program Development Team Members. Not all team members were present for the photo.

News for You

Dr. Charlie Johnson, director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Genomics

Texas A&M's 'Revolutionary' New Lab with PerkinElmer Genome Research

Texas A&M AgriLife Research and their internationally recognized Genomics and Bioinformatics Service are poised to change the face of agriculture-focused genomics. “We are excited to make this significant announcement on National DNA Day, which celebrates the 15th anniversary of the Human Genome Project,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. Read the full Texas A&M AgriLife Today article.

Dr. Charlie Johnson, director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Genomics and Bioinformatics Service facility, shows off the new equipment. Photo provided by Texas A&M AgriLife.

Peanut image by Jack Dykinga.

A Less Allergenic Peanut Extract for Use in Allergy Treatment

As baseball season gets into full swing, many fans enjoy traditional ballpark favorites like peanuts. But, not everyone can safely savor this popular treat. Peanuts induce an allergic reaction in millions of Americans. Peanut allergy is a major public health concern, especially for children. “This is the most common cause of anaphylaxis in children and has become more prevalent in recent years,” said recently retired Agricultural Research Service food technologist Si-Yin Chung. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that has a quick onset. Read the full USDA article.

Peanut image provided by Jack Dykinga.

USDA Message

Secretary Sonny Perdue feedback image

Secretary Sonny Perdue is Listening

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue would like to hear from you. Let USDA know how to improve our customer service. If you have ideas to make USDA work better, Sonny is listening to your suggestions. An online feedback form is available to submit your comments or concerns. 

RFA Grant and Award Announcements

NIFA Announces New Funding Opportunity for Sustainable Agricultural Systems

Up to $80 million in funding is available for integrated projects to increase the sustainable production of food and agricultural products. Funding is made through a new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program – Sustainable Agricultural Systems (SAS) program.

SAS focuses on system-level approaches that will promote transformational changes in food and agricultural systems within the next 25 years. SAS supports trans-disciplinary projects that aim to transform agricultural systems that provide safe, nutritious, abundant, and affordable food for a growing population, while enhancing economic opportunities for Americans, especially those in rural areas. Read the request for applications for more details.

NIFA Announces Support for a Funding Opportunity for Education and Workforce Development

More than $24 million in available funding for research, education, and professional development of K-14 teachers and education professionals, training of undergraduate students in research and extension, and predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships. Funding is through the Education and Workforce Development (EWD) program. Funding is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Read the request for application for more details.

NIFA Announces Funding to Recruit and Educate a More Diverse Agricultural Workforce

Nearly $1 million is available to help foster the next generation of multicultural scholars in agricultural sciences. NIFA’s Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program is providing $945,400 to help colleges and universities recruit and retain multicultural scholars who may pursue degrees in food and agricultural sciences disciplines or the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Projects may involve scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training of committed, eligible multicultural scholars. Read the request for applications for more details.

NIFA Announces Funding for the Food and Agriculture Education Information System

NIFA requests applications for the Food and Agriculture Education Information System (FAEIS) for fiscal year 2018. The system will maintain a national food and agricultural education information system that contains information on enrollment, degrees awarded, faculty, employment placement, and other similar information in the food and agricultural sciences.

FAEIS is a comprehensive database that gathers information, on a voluntary basis, from degree granting institutions of higher education on student enrollment in food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences, degrees awarded, and graduate placement at all degree levels and by gender, race, and other relevant categories. Read the request for applications for more details.