NIFA Update July 3

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           July 3, 2019

Making a Difference

(R-L) Scott Merrill, Asim Zia, Chris Koliba and Gabriela Bucini, UVM researchers trying to understand human behavior. Photo by Sally McCay.

(R-L) Scott Merrill, Asim Zia, Chris Koliba and Gabriela Bucini are part of a team of researchers using video games and computational models to understand human behavior. Photo by Sally McCay.

Video Games Offer Clues to Help Curb Animal Disease Outbreaks

As Asia and Europe battle African swine fever outbreaks, University of Vermont (UVM) research shows how farmers’ risk attitudes affect the spread of infectious animal diseases and offers a first-of-its kind model for testing disease control and prevention strategies.

Strengthening biosecurity is widely considered the best strategy to reduce the devastating impact of disease outbreaks in the multi-billion-dollar global swine industry, but successfully doing so all comes down to human decision-making, a UVM study shows.

The study, published June 25 in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, is the first of its kind to include human behavior in infectious disease outbreak projections — a critical element that has largely been ignored in previous epidemiological models, the university said. Incorporating theories of behavior change, communications and economic decision-making into disease models gives a more accurate depiction of how outbreak scenarios play out in the real-world to better inform prevention and control strategies. Read the full University of Vermont article.

NIFA funded the Animal Disease Biosecurity Coordinated Agriculture Project.


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Grant Opportunities Available  

Check out the grant funding opportunities available through NIFA. The listing is a complete catalogue of grant opportunities available. If you see an opportunity you're interested in learning more about, call or email the program contact. See the complete list on the NIFA RFA webpage.

News for You

Dawn Alexander, center,  Scott Angle, right, and Jessica Jansen.

Oregon Teacher Wins National Agriculture Teaching Award

Agriculture is an integral part of Dawn Alexander’s fifth grade classroom at Tom McCall Elementary School in Redmond, Oregon. Students learn through a variety of hands-on projects tied to food and farming, such as growing their own salsa garden and exploring the importance of bees for pollinating crops. “They actually really like it,” Alexander said. “It’s a lot of hands-on, and science. They love science.”

Alexander recently became the first teacher from Oregon to win an Excellence in Teaching Award from National Agriculture in the Classroom, an organization aimed at increasing agricultural literacy from kindergarten through high school. Read the full Capital Press article.

Dawn Alexander, center, receives the National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture award from NIFA Director Scott Angle, right, and Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Director Jessica Jansen.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $7 Million for Research on Pests and Beneficial Species in Agriculture

NIFA recently awarded 20 grants for pests and beneficial species research to help manage pests and beneficial species that affect agricultural crops. NIFA investments help to develop better strategies to foster beneficial insects and microbes that have potential to combat pests. Funded grants support research to promote beneficial organisms associated with pests, as well as to better understand the fundamental mechanisms that inform interactions between plants, pests, or beneficial species. This research will lead to innovative, environmentally-sound strategies to manage agricultural pests and beneficial species. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

NIFA Invests $3.7 Million Rural Prosperity and Economic Development Research

NIFA recently announced 10 rural economics awards that will provide insights into improving rural prosperity and economic development. The projects address the role of innovation in rural business startup and vitality, measure and build on local food system vitality for communities in the South, explore opioid risks in rural areas, and develop a research-based entrepreneurial curriculum for rural business startup and survival. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

NIFA Invests $11.4 Million to Educate and Develop Agricultural Scientists and Professionals

NIFA recently awarded 71 postdoctoral Fellowship grants that support post-graduate training in agricultural related disciplines. These fellowships will develop new scientists and professionals to enter research, education, and extension fields within the food and agricultural sciences. The aim of these grants are to cultivate future industry, government, or academic leaders who are able to solve emerging agricultural challenges of the 21st century. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.