NIFA Update Nov. 20

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           Nov. 20, 2019

Making a Difference

An insect infected with Metarhizium robertsii fungus to assist in plant growth and pest management. Image courtesy of Mary Barbercheck.

An insect infected with Metarhizium robertsii fungus to assist in plant growth and pest management. Image courtesy of Mary Barbercheck.

Penn State Research Projects Awarded NIFA's Organic Agriculture Grants

Three organic-agriculture projects led by faculty members in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences received grants from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Organic Transitions Program. The funding, totaling more than $1.3 million, supports research, education and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers adopt organic practices and improve their market competitiveness. Read the full Penn State University article.

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle, NIFA's Director

Knowing of the strong interest in the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), I wanted to provide an update on the submission period for shortage nominations. The Paperwork Reduction Act requires approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of NIFA’s solicitation of shortage nominations. In late September, NIFA’s OMB Information Collection Package for VMLRP expired. Prior to that expiration, the VMLPR staff submitted a renewal package, which has not yet been approved.

NIFA is not allowed to collect any additional nominations of critical shortage areas until this renewal process is complete, most likely by mid-December. At that time, NIFA’s VMLRP staff will send out a notification to their partners’ list, and the opportunity to submit nominations will be reopened for a two-week period. Shortage area nominations that have already been submitted will not have to be resubmitted, however, if you wish, modifications to original nominations can be submitted at that time.

Other than this temporary delay in the submission of nominations, NIFA anticipates no other changes in the timelines cited in the Request for Applications. The application deadlines, peer review process, and panels dates are expected to be similar to those of last year. If you have specific questions regarding VMLRP, please contact our VMLRP staff at


NIFA-funded research produced this nanosensor connected to a portable potentiostat to monitor pesticides in a sample fluid.

New Nanosensor Detects Microscopic Contaminants in Water

Good things come in small packages. Sadly, so do bad things. That’s where Iowa State University’s (ISU) Department of Mechanical Engineering comes in. Led by Dr. Jonathan Claussen, ISU researchers have used nanotechnology to develop a sensor that can detect organophosphates at levels 40 times smaller than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommendations. Organophosphates are certain classes of insecticides used on crops throughout the world to kill insects. Read the full USDA blog.

NIFA-funded research produced this nanosensor connected to a portable potentiostat to monitor pesticides in a sample fluid.

NIFA Career Opportunities

NIFA graphic identifier

We continue to hire at NIFA, please remember to check out our Career Opportunities webpage, where there is a direct link to all open NIFA positions on the website.

News for You

Prairie View A&M University student Kristina Edwards

Prairie View A&M University Student Speaks at Careers Workshop

Prairie View A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Human Sciences students continue to break the mold when it comes to showcasing their great talent and dedication. Sophomore Nutrition major Kristina Edwards gave a presentation, titled “Breaking the Cycle,” about what has inspired her journey into studying nutrition, for a recent conference workshop at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The Healthy People Healthy Communities: Exploring Future Careers workshop is sponsored by the USDA which Edwards is a National USDA 1890 Scholar.  This work was supported by NIFA’s, 1890 Extension Formula Program section 1444. Read the full Prairie View A&M University article.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $8.77 Million to Develop Agricultural and Human Sciences Workforce at HSIs

NIFA recently announced 15 new and 10 continuing grants to support agricultural science education via the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) Education Grants Program. This program promotes and strengthens the ability of HSIs to carry out education, applied research, and related community development projects to attract, retain, and graduate students capable of enhancing the nation’s food, agricultural, natural resource, and human sciences work force. HSIs are colleges and universities that have at least 25 percent Hispanic student enrollment.

Funding Opportunity

Resident Instruction Grants Program for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas (RIIA) & Agriculture and Food Sciences Facilities and Equipment (AGFEI)

These programs promote and strengthen the ability of eligible institutions in the Insular Areas to carry out education within the FANH sciences.

  • RIIA projects strengthen institutional educational capacities, including libraries, curriculum, faculty, scientific instrumentation, instruction delivery systems, and student recruitment and retention, in order to respond to education needs in the food and agricultural sciences.
  • AGFEI projects support activities to acquire or renovate facilities and relevant equipment necessary for conducting agricultural research to support tropical and subtropical agricultural research, including pest and disease research.

Read the full RIIA & AGFEI funding opportunity.

NIFA Tweet

South Dakota State University Cody Wright NIFA Tweet