NIFA Update June 27

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                          June 27, 2018

Scout, Snap, and Share: First Impressions of Plant Disease Monitoring Using Social Media

Twitter Corn Plant graphic

A new research study conducted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach illustrates the efficacy of mapping and identifying the spread of pests and pathogens using Twitter. The study is available online through the American Phytopathological Society. NIFA supported the research through the Integrated Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education Cooperative Agricultural Project. Read the full Kansas Ag Connection article


Dr. Muquarrab Qureshi

Acting Deputy Director for NIFA’s Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition

Dr. Muquarrab Qureshi will serve as the Acting Deputy Director for NIFA’s Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition in an interim capacity. Dr. Qureshi will concurrently continue to serve as the Deputy Director of the Institute of Youth, Family, and Community. 

Toija Riggins and Kristen Boyd

Acting Directors for NIFA’s PARS Staff

Toija Riggins and Kristen Boyd have been selected to serve as the Acting Director for NIFA’s Planning, Accountability, and Reporting Staff (PARS) in consecutive temporary assignments in order to provide leadership and oversight until the vacancy can be filled on a permanent basis.

Toija Riggins joined NIFA in October 2014, and she currently serves as the national program leader for Rural Sociology in the Institute of Youth, Family, and Community. Toija’s detail in PARS began June 24 and continues through Oct. 13.

Kristen Boyd joined NIFA in October 2016,  and she currently serves as an IT specialist focusing on Enterprise Architecture in the Office of Information Technology/Information Policy, Planning, and Training Division. Kristen’s assignment to PARS will begin Oct. 14 and ends Feb. 2, 2019.

Bill Hoffman and Josh Stull

New Acting Directors of NIFA Communications Office

Dr. Bill Hoffman will serve a 120-day detail as interim director of NIFA"s Communications Staff (CS). n addition to his duties as NIFA's Chief of Staff, Bill will provide daily oversight of CS functions and duties.  Bill came to NIFA in 2002, and has served as a program specialist, national program leader, and program and analysis officer. Prior to joining NIFA, he worked for five years with Penn State Cooperative Extension and in the private sector for five years. 

Following Dr. Hoffman’s tour, Josh Stull will serve a 120-day tour. Josh is NIFA’s Congressional and Stakeholder Affairs Officer. In this position he leads NIFA’s congressional and legislative activities and works to educate members of Congress and staff on NIFA’s mission in agricultural research, education, and extension. Josh came to NIFA from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, where he served as acting director of Congressional and Public Affairs from November 2015 until April 2016 and then as the Congressional and Public Affairs Staff team lead of from May until June 2016. 

News for You

Thunder Basin National Grasslands USDA image

Grass-Cast: A New Grassland Productivity Forecast for the Northern Great Plains

Every spring, ranchers face the same difficult challenge—trying to guess how much grass will be available for livestock to graze during the upcoming summer. In May, a new Grassland Productivity Forecast or “Grass-Cast” published its first forecast to help producers in the northern Great Plains reduce this source of uncertainty. This new, experimental grassland forecast is supported by the USDAs’ Agricultural Research Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Read the full USDA article

Award Notifications

NIFA Invests $6 Million in Animal Genome Research

NIFA announced three Animal Genome Research awards that will improve functional annotation of swine, chickens, and cattle genomes. This research will help identify the genetic basis of production and health traits, leading to the selection of genetically superior livestock and poultry. Improved farm productivity, improved animal health, and product quality improvement that will increase exports are a few of the ultimate goals of the federal investment. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $7.5 Million in Plant Physiology Research

NIFA announced 21 Plant Physiology Research awards that will advance research to improve plant production, which is critical to the sustainability and competitiveness of United States agriculture. Future improvements to production systems require a better understanding of inter-related factors affecting agricultural plants and their resilience to climate variability, nutritional quality, and water-and nutrient-use efficiency. The Physiology of Agricultural Plants Program supports research that addresses these needs at the molecular, cellular, biochemical, and whole-organism levels. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $8.6 Million towards Preventing Childhood Obesity

NIFA announced six integrated research, education, and extension awards designed to prevent childhood obesity in the United States. These awards focus on underserved communities, family-centered health, involvement with strong communities, and academic partners to improve children’s overall health through obesity prevention efforts. In addition, the awards support long-range improvements in the sustainability of agriculture and food systems for improved health. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $8 Million in Research in Animal Nutrition, Growth, and Lactation

NIFA announced 21 Animal Nutrition, Growth, and Lactation awards that will lead to better management strategies for animal production systems, enhance production efficiency, and further develop high quality animal products for human use. These advances will come from new foundational knowledge into the cellular, molecular, genomic and whole animal management strategies brought about by the 21 projects. Rural prosperity brought about through greater farm profitability and increased exports are a two of the ultimate goals of the federal investment. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). 

RFA Announcements

Tribal College Research Area of Expertise

Tribal College Research Area of Expertise (TCRAE) assists 1994 land-grant institutions in building research capacity through competitive funding of applied projects that address student educational needs and solve community, reservation, or regional problems consistent with the 1994 Research Grants. Read the full TCRAE RFA.

Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative: Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)

The Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative: Extension Disaster Education Network provides national coordination of EDEN for outreach services to enhance biosecurity of the U.S. agriculture and food systems. Read the full EDEN RFA

Air Force Personal Financial Readiness Program Evaluation Development

The Air Force Personal Financial Readiness Program (PFRP) develop and complete a comprehensive program evaluation of personal financial readiness program supporting Air Force members and their families. Read the full Air Force PFRP RFA.

Children, Youth and Families at Risk Professional Development and Technical Assistance Program

CYFAR marshals the resources of the land-grant and the Cooperative Extension Systems so that, in collaboration with other organizations, they can develop and deliver educational programs to youth who are at risk for not meeting basic human needs. These programs provide youth with the skills they need to lead positive, productive, and contributing lives; participating youth make a difference socially. Read the full CYFAR RFA.

Comparative Genomics Research Program

NIFA invites applications for research to develop comparative approaches that may help to understand genome structure and function and the relationship between genomic features and phenotypes. NIFA will support studies that enable the use of a diverse array of species to advance our ability to improve genome annotations that complements Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes. Read the full Comparative Genomics Research RFA.