FFAR Awards $2.7 Million to Create Fellowship Program to Foster the Next Generation of Food and Agricultural Scientists

FFAR Will Collaborate With Industry Leaders and Universities to Provide Interdisciplinary Training for Graduate Students

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, today announced a $2.7 million grant to launch the FFAR Fellowship Program. A team at North Carolina State University led by John Dole, Ph.D., will manage the program. The grant will be matched by a consortium of industry leaders dedicated to preparing the agricultural workforce to optimize impact on the future of the industry.

The goal of the program is to combine cutting-edge food and agriculture science research with professional development training to better prepare graduate students for the workforce. The program will address the “STEM Paradox,” or the observation that science, technology, engineering, and math students have strong scientific skills but sometimes lack other professional skills that make them successful in the workplace. Unlike other programs, the FFAR Fellowship focuses exclusively on food and agriculture sciences.

“At the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, we understand that the future of agriculture lies in training the next generation of scientists,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey, Ph.D. “Students must be prepared to not only make the scientific breakthroughs that will sustain us, but also have the professional skills to succeed in their careers across the agricultural sector.”

The FFAR Fellowship Program will fund 48 graduate students over three years using an interdisciplinary approach to career readiness. Students will pursue research projects in an area of food or agriculture research related to FFAR’s Challenge Areas and strategic initiatives, such as soil health, plant phenomics, precision agriculture, breeding technology, digital agriculture, and sustainable livestock production. In addition to academic advisors, students will be matched with industry mentors who will provide additional career guidance.

The flagship component of the FFAR Fellowship Program is the annual professional development workshop. Fellows will convene with industry peers to participate in training for professional and interpersonal skills, such as team building, project and time management, and science communication. These trainings will be complimented by a personalized development plan to help students obtain the professional skills they need to excel in the workforce.

“Industry and academia will be working together in this program to provide an unparalleled educational opportunity for graduate students studying in food and agriculture,” said John Dole, Ph.D., North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences associate dean and director of academic programs.  “The FFAR Fellows will be conducting innovative research, while learning what it takes to succeed from leading industry scientists.”

Interested students should visit www.ffarfellows.org for details on eligibility, application requirements, and fellowship expectations.

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