NIFA Update - Oct. 6, 2021

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                      October 6, 2021

Making a Difference

Honey bee on an almond flower, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Honey bee on an almond flower, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Researchers Look for Ways to Boost Bee-Friendly Practices

Almonds are big business in California, which grows 80 percent of the world's crop with a value of $5.62 billion. To get those almonds to grow, farmers need bees to pollinate their crop. And bee populations have been suffering sharp declines in recent years, part of a pattern of widespread loss of pollinator diversity and abundance.

Now a University of Oregon (UO) biologist and a former UO postdoctoral fellow have looked for ways to incentivize almond growers to adopt bee-friendly practices, such as planting cover crops, adopting permanent pollinator habitat and adopting best management practices for bees.

The paper by Jennie Durant and Lauren Ponisio was published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems this summer. Durant was a postdoctoral fellow at the UO with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture when they conducted the study. For more information, read this University of Oregon article.


Sustainable farming graphic, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

USDA Announces More Than $146M Investment in Sustainable Agricultural Research

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today an investment of more than $146 million in sustainable agricultural research projects aimed at improving a robust, resilient, climate-smart food and agricultural system. This investment is made under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program. This innovative program focuses on a broad base of needed research solutions from addressing labor challenges and promoting land stewardship to correcting climate change impacts in agriculture and critical needs in food and nutrition.

“USDA is tackling urgent challenges facing American agriculture and communities across our nation. Critical issues like food insecurity, drought resilience and response, animal disease prevention, and market disruption requires investments to help meet these challenges. This is the time for agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to act,” said Secretary Vilsack. For more information, read this NIFA press release.

Sustainable farming graphic, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

NIFA Hispanic Serving Institute grant recipient, Melawhy Garcia, MPH, Ph.D.

Spotlight: Melawhy Garcia for Hispanic Heritage Month

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is featuring a NIFA Hispanic-Serving Institute grant recipient, Melawhy Garcia, MPH, Ph.D. She is an assistant professor of health science and the director of the Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training at California State University - Long Beach. For more information, read this NIFA blog by guest author Melawhy Garcia PhD.

NIFA Hispanic Serving Institute grant recipient, Melawhy Garcia, MPH, Ph.D.

Nanotechnology graphic, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

October 9 is National Nanotechnology Day

National Nanotechnology Day is an annual celebration featuring a series of community-led events and activities to help raise awareness of nanotechnology. This date, October 9, pays homage to the nanometer scale, 10–9 meters celebrating National Nanotechnology Day. Feel free to celebrate Nanotechnology Day anytime between Oct. 4 and Oct. 9 by sharing nanotechnology-related information on social media and by using #NationalNanoDay.

Nanotechnology graphic, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

NIFA flower identifier

NIFA Career Opportunities

We are hiring! The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recruits a diverse group of talented, creative, motivated professionals who are invested in shaping the future of food and agricultural science. We offer a variety of benefits and services to our employees that focus on work-life balance, career enhancement, and health and well-being. NIFA has career opportunities in a variety of scientific disciplines covering engineering, food science, forestry, education, animal and crop sciences, and many other agriculture-related disciplines. NIFA job openings are listed on USAJobs. Current NIFA job openings are for Kansas City, Missouri, or location negotiable after selection.

Diversity Program Manager (GS-14)
Closing Date: October 8, or when we have received 75 applications.
View the job announcement.

News for You

Tashina Red Hawk is on her second term as the 2021-22 South Dakota High School Rodeo Queen.

First South Dakotan Wins National 4-H Youth in Action Award

Tashina Red Hawk was recently named the recipient of the 2022 4-H Youth in Action Award for Agriculture. Announced during National 4-H Week, the 4-H Youth in Action Awards, sponsored in part by Bayer, began in 2010 to recognize 4-H’ers nationwide who have used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their communities. Distinguished for her “drive to inspire her peers and give back to her Rosebud Sioux Tribe community through charitable veterinary work,” Red Hawk is the first South Dakota 4-H’er to win a Youth in Action award. For more information, read the Capital Journal article.

Tashina Red Hawk as the 2021-22 South Dakota High School Rodeo Queen.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff graphic logo.

UAPB Students Get U.S. 1890 Scholarships  

Forty-two students in the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences (SAFHS) at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) have the honor of calling themselves "UAPB 1890 Scholars," said UAPB 1890 Scholarship Program coordinator Dr. Tomekia White. These scholarships are funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture as authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. “The 1890 Scholarship Program provides scholarships to undergraduate students at the nation's 19 historically black land-grant universities – the 1890s," White said. "Of the 42 students, 14 are returning scholars and 28 are new to the program. These students will all pursue degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields in SAFHS." Scholarships were awarded in amounts of $4,000, $6,000, $8,000, and $20,000 per year, dependent upon GPA and ACT requirements. For more information, read this UAPB news article.

Morgan Treadwell lights part of a 1,000-acre prescribed burn of tall prairie grass near Fort Worth, courtesy of Brian Treadwell.

Saving the Great Plains with Prescribed Fire

Ranchers are under increasing stress due to changing environmental conditions and subsequent losses of rangelands to woody plants, but a relatively new management approach shows promise in turning the tide against encroaching brush and shrubs. Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist Brad Wilcox is among a group of researchers, extension specialists and educators who hope pyric herbivory will one day become a routine point of conversation in rangeland conservation and wildfire mitigation. The Texas A&M University-led project is a collaboration with Oklahoma State University and the University of Nebraska and is funded via a five-year, $10 million USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to test and promote pyric herbivory and other replicated natural disturbance regimens. For more information, read this Texas A&M AgriLife article.

Morgan Treadwell lights part of a prescribed burn near Fort Worth, Texas. Photo courtesy of Brian Treadwell.

NIFA Webinars

Webinar graphic, courtesy of Adboe Stock.

Non-Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture Program (NLGCA) 
October 12, at 11 a.m. ET

The purpose of the Non-land-grant Colleges of Agriculture (NLGCA) Program is to assist NLGCA Institutions in maintaining and expanding their capacity to conduct education, research, outreach, and extension activities relating to the food and agricultural sciences. In this webinar, NIFA staff will discuss the NLGCA Program and assist other institutions in learning how to apply for non-land-grant college status. Go online to learn more or to register.

Webinar graphic, courtesy of Adboe Stock.

GusNIP Listening Session
October 20, at 2 p.m. ET

The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) brings together stakeholders from various parts of the food and healthcare systems. The competitive grant program portfolio includes nutrition incentive projects, produce prescription projects, training, technical assistance, evaluation, and information centers which provide support services to both nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects. NIFA will host a webinar to listen to stakeholder feedback regarding all aspects of the GusNIP program. Go online for more information or to register.

Award Notifications

NIFA invests $19.4 M in Small Business Advanced Innovation Research

NIFA recently announced 31 grants to domestic small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. SBIR is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. This includes qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D arena that stimulate high-tech innovation. SBIR strengthens the United States entrepreneurial spirit as it gains specific research and development needs. All these awardees displayed promise through SBIR Phase I projects and warrant a larger SBIR Phase II grant based on demonstration of relevant technical objectives; a potential viable market, customers, and marketing strategy; significant intellectual property; and financing. Awards were made in pursuit of the following topic areas:

NIFA Invests in $5.5 M in Higher Education

NIFA recently awarded 16 Higher Education Challenge (HEC) grants to increase the number and diversity of students who pursue and complete formal, baccalaureate, or master’s degree level food and agricultural sciences education, and first professional degree-level education in veterinary medicine (DVM). HEC supports eligible applicants to help ensure a competent, qualified, and diverse workforce will exist to serve the food and agricultural sciences system. At the same time, HEC-funded projects improve the economic health and viability of communities through the development of degree programs emphasizing new and emerging employment opportunities. Finally, HEC also addresses the national challenge to increase the number and diversity of students entering the food and agricultural sciences (i.e., having a food and agricultural sciences workforce representative of the nation’s population).

NIFA Partners with NIH, Funds Two Multidisciplinary Dietary Biomarker Development Centers

Adopting and maintaining healthy dietary habits and dietary patterns are crucial for preventing and delaying the onset of a variety of chronic diseases. There is a critical need for validated objective markers of dietary intake to measure the effectiveness of interventions that promote a healthy diet. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are supporting research developing metabolomics-based dietary intake biomarkers. In FY2021, NIFA funded two multidisciplinary Dietary Biomarker Development Centers, investing $1 million/year each for a 5-year period: University of California, Davis; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Read more about this NIH and NIFA partnership at RFA-DK-20-005: Biomarkers of Dietary Intake and Exposure (U2C Clinical Trial Required).

Tweet of the Week

NIFA tweet Check out the history of the largest youth development program, empowering nearly six million young people with the skills to lead.