NIFA Update Nov. 6, 2019

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           Nov. 6, 2019

Making a Difference

Pamela Roberts, a UF/IFAS plant pathology professor, leads research into ways to reduce bacterial diseases in peppers. UF/IFAS image.

Pamela Roberts, a UF/IFAS plant pathology professor, has been awarded a four-year, $3 million grant from NIFA to lead research into ways to reduce bacterial diseases in peppers

Multistate Research to Reduce Pepper Diseases; Boost Production

Peppers are popular. Consumers eat all kinds, including jalapenos, habaneros, chilis and more. Because people eat so much of the fruit, they’re worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Florida and national economies. In fact, in 2018, bell and chili peppers alone were a $181 million-a-year industry in Florida and a $628 million a year industry nationwide, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. But, like all crops, peppers face diseases that threaten to reduce their production. Pamela Roberts, a scientist with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is leading a multi-state effort to lessen the risk of diseases eating away at pepper harvests. With new data, scientists plan to help farmers increase their pepper production. She has been awarded a four-year, $3 million grant from NIFA to lead research into ways to reduce bacterial diseases in peppers. Read the full UF/IFAS blog article.

Pamela Roberts, a UF/IFAS plant pathology professor, has been awarded a four-year, $3 million grant from NIFA to lead research into ways to reduce bacterial diseases in peppers.

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle NIFA's Director

NIFA continues to announce award recipients in this weekly stakeholder update. Please encourage others to sign up for these updates by visiting this webpage. You can also read past NIFA Update issues online. Thank you for your continued support.


Meet NIFA’s National Science Liaisons’ Program Specialists

NIFA’s National Science Liaisons lead the agency’s program portfolio supporting the agency’s national research, education, and extension objectives. Giving the NSLs assistance in their new role are three new National Science Liaison Program Specialists. Together they will serve our stakeholders and partners as expert program resources. Biographies and contact information below.

Lelan Dixon

Lelan Dixon

Lelan Dixon is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Currently, she is a Program Specialist with NIFA in Washington, DC.  She has been with in federal service for over six years and five of those with NIFA. During her career, Dixon has gained experience serving as a Commercial Horticulture Extension agent for the University of Florida, Soil Conservationist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Training Specialist for the University of Hawaii, and Nutrient Management Specialist with the Maryland Department of Agriculture.  She attended Southern University A&M College and Florida A&M University earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in agricultural and plant sciences respectively.  Throughout her career she has maintained a passion for agriculturally based outreach, farm safety, sustainability, and global food security.

Olivia Kwong

Olivia Kwong

Olivia Kwong is a Program Specialist who has been working with the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Management Team to coordinate NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program in the food and agricultural sciences. Her responsibilities include working with the Critical Agricultural Research and Extension and Sustainable Agricultural Systems programs, as well as answering general questions about AFRI from stakeholders and coordinating the commodity board topics provision to co-fund topics in AFRI Requests for Applications. Prior to joining NIFA, Kwong managed the Plant Conservation Alliance, a public-private partnership, while working out of the Bureau of Land Management’s national office. Olivia received her B.A. in biology and theatre from Cornell University and her M.S. in biology from George Washington University.

Davida Tengey

Davida Tengey

Davida Vanderpuye Tengey recently rejoined NIFA’s Washington, DC based team as a Program Specialist (social science specialist). Tengey will also serve as the NIFA International Visitors Coordinator, assisting with addressing NIFA’s international engagement activities. She began her federal service career at NIFA in 2009, where she has held several positions across the agency. In her most recent role as Program Specialist for the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability, she worked closely with the national program leaders in administering multiple animal science competitive programs. Tengey has extensive experience in NIFA peer review systems and grants management procedures. In 2015, she was appointed as a key member of the Grants Modernization Team that successfully conducted a fit gap analysis of USDA and NIH peer review systems. Since 2014 she has spearheaded and coordinated USDA’s multi-agency education outreach program at the U.S. Science and Engineering Festival. 

She received her B.S. degree from University of Maryland University College in Global Business and Public Policy and a minor in Strategic and Entrepreneurial Management.  She has been a member of the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD) since 2012.

News for You

Image of produce at Seattle Farmer's Market; courtesy of Getty images.

NIFA Announces $41.4 Million in Grants to Encourage Healthy Food Purchases for SNAP Participants

NIFA today announced $41.4 million in 23 competitive grants to support projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. The funding comes from The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and renamed from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI).

“Building upon the achievements of its predecessor program, FINI, GusNIP uses healthy incentives to encourage the buying of fruits and vegetables at the point of purchase. This is a win-win for those participating in SNAP and for farmers at farmers markets where many of these projects are operating. Additionally, this activity strengthens our local and regional food systems, making them more sustainable,” said NIFA Director J. Scott Angle. Read the full NIFA announcement.

Image of produce at Seattle Farmer's Market; courtesy of Getty images.

Dr. Barry Dunn, courtesy of South Dakota State University.

NIFA Selects South Dakota State University President Barry Dunn to Deliver 2019 William H. Hatch Memorial Lecture

Dr. J. Scott Angle, Director of NIFA, recently announced that Dr. Barry Dunn, President of South Dakota State University, was selected to deliver the 2019 William H. Hatch Memorial Lecture at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. The lecture commemorates the foresight of William Henry Hatch in leading the movement to establish national support for agricultural science at land-grant universities. Read the full NIFA announcement.

Photo of Dr. Barry Dunn, courtesy of South Dakota State University.

From Our Partners

Louisiana State University AgCenter researchers evaluate food safety risks from contaminated seedlings

Winner of the 2019 National Excellence in Multistate Research Award

Researchers and Extension educators from 39 institutions are addressing food safety concerns at all points in the food system. New technology, inventive strategies, and education for the industry and consumers have helped manage food safety risks before they become dangerous and costly. In the U.S., about 48 million people get sick each year from foodborne illnesses. Food recalls and damage to brand reputation can cost companies millions of dollars. Read the full Managing Food Safety Risks Multistate Research Fund Impact.

Photo: Louisiana State University AgCenter researchers evaluate food safety risks from contaminated seedlings.

USDA Message

USDA graphic symbol

Secretary Perdue Announces OneUSDA Internship Program for Summer 2020

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced the “OneUSDA Internship” opportunity for Summer 2020. As part of the Federal Pathways Program, the OneUSDA Internship Program will provide students a way to explore serving their country through a career in government while gaining work experience in agriculture, natural resources, rural development, and other career fields. “Our goal at USDA is to recruit the best and retain the best through our OneUSDA Internship Program offered nationwide,” said Secretary Perdue. Read the full USDA press release.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $4.6 Million to Address Critical Pest Problems

NIFA recently awarded 16 applied research and development grants to enhance the development, adoption, and implementation of innovative, ecologically-based, sustainable integrated pest management (IPM), technologies, tools, tactics and strategies that address regional and/or national IPM priorities. Among the projects funded include developing innovative IPM strategies for russet mite control in industrial hemp; reducing honey bee pathogens and improving colony health; and introducing an intelligent sprayer to tree fruit growers and technology enhancement for the spraying system to suit for tree canopy structures and orchard terrains in Pennsylvania. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Crop Protection and Pest Management Program, which addresses integrated pest management solutions for emerging weed, disease, and insect pests.

Career Opportunities Expo

USDA NIFA and ERS Career Expo image collage

USDA’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture held a Career Opportunities Expo today at the Kansas State University Olathe campus. The expo might be over but qualified candidates can apply for job openings on the website as opportunities become available. Find more NIFA career opportunities on our website.

Funding Opportunity

Centers of Excellence at 1890 Institutions (1890 COEs)

The 1890 COEs program provides support for Centers of Excellence that were originally established in 2015 in conjunction with the 125th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Act of 1890. The 1890 COEs are hosted by 1890 Land-Grant Institutions with the goals of:

  • Increasing profitability and rural prosperity in underserved farming communities;
  • Addressing critical needs for enhanced international training and development; and
  • Increasing diversity in the science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM) pipeline.

Learn more about the Centers of Excellence at 1890 Institutions funding opportunity.