- Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research - https://foundationfar.org -

New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research

New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award

Meeting and sustaining the growing global demand for food will require a scientific workforce committed to innovating the way food is grown, processed, and distributed. Funding early career faculty is one important way to cultivate a creative workforce who will train, encourage, and inspire future generations of agricultural and food scientists.

The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award is designed to provide the early investment needed to launch new faculty members into successful scientific careers in food and agriculture. Investing a substantial amount in faculty members within the first three years of their careers will allow them to pursue innovative and transformational ideas uninhibited by the pressure of identifying their next grant. The New Innovator Award seeks to promote career advancement of highly creative and promising new scientists who intend to make a long-term career commitment to research in food and agriculture and bring innovative, ground-breaking research initiatives and thinking to bear on problems facing food and agriculture.

2018 New Innovator Nominations Now Open

FFAR will award each applicant up to $100,000 per year for up to three years. A one-to-one cash match from nonfederal sources is required. FFAR will award up to ten 2018 New Innovators depending on the quality and budgets of proposals.


  • U.S. institutions of higher education, U.S. nonprofit institutions other than institutions of higher education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are invited to nominate up to two applicants for this award.

Nominations Due

  • February 28, 2018 at 4:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
  • Self-nominations are not accepted.

Contact: grants@foundationfar.org [1] 

Read the full RFA [2] for application details.

Join our newsletter [3] to receive updates.

2017 New Innovators in Food and Agriculture Research

Sotirios Archontoulis, Ph.D.
Iowa State University
Optimizing Agricultural Water Use

Dr. Archontoulis' research will enhance our understanding of groundwater impacts on soil-crop-atmospheric processes, improve simulation models, and thus our capacity to predict impacts and design mitigation strategies that will lead to improved water quality, soil health, and productivity. Outcomes of this work will reach stakeholders via an easy-to-use web-tool that will provide real-time forecasts.

Learn more [4]

Steven Culman, Ph.D.
The Ohio State University
Transforming Soil Health

This research project will investigate promising tests of the rapidly cycled and biologically-active pool of organic matter to see how these tests reflect nutrient cycling and nutrient supply to crops. The project will build on a statewide, on-farm effort to revise fertilizer recommendations by pairing these results with active organic matter tests. The goal will be to reveal the ability of these tests to inform nutrient management decisions.

Learn more [5]

Hannah Holscher, Ph.D.
University of Illinois
Nutrition and Healthful Food Choices

Dr. Holscher's research will include laboratory and computer experiments to further our understanding of how foods impact the gut microbiota and health outcomes. The results will provide information that will help consumers to make healthful food choices. It will also inform dietary guidance given by registered dietitians, health care providers, and extension specialists.

Learn more [6]

Jonas King, Ph.D.
Mississippi State University
Spurring Food System Innovation

Dr. King's research will combine existing technologies with novel data analysis pipelines and refine their use in detecting diverse plant pathogens and insects of importance in row crop, orchard, and forestry settings. This research will impact consumers and producers as it will help identify novel means of pathogen detection in agricultural settings.

Learn more [7]

Markita Landry, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley
Improving Plant Efficiency

Dr. Landry's goals are to develop tools to enable broad-scale production of transgenic plants, which can mitigate the increasingly urgent need for sustainable and high-yielding crops. The study of nanomaterial biodistribution in plant systems, and leveraging their use to create mature plant genetic transformants will enable a synthetic method to create robust crops to meet our growing food and energy needs.

Learn more [8]

Kranthi Mandadi, Ph.D.
Texas A&M University
Improving Plant Efficiency

Dr. Mandadi test a method of screening for antimicrobial genes and chemicals effective against pathogens causing citrus greening and potato zebra chip diseases. The research findings can be translated into disease management strategies in the field that will help growers and the industry to combat the billions of dollars of annual losses.

Learn more [9]

Diwakar Shukla, Ph.D.
University of Illinois
Improving Plant Efficiency

This project will utilize an ensemble of techniques to address a key agricultural challenge of low nitrogen use efficiency in plants and provide a unique platform to demonstrate the need, feasibility and impact of computational biophysics in understanding fundamental questions in plant biology.

Learn more [10]

Maya Vadiveloo, Ph.D.
University of Rhode Island
Nutrition and Healthful Food Choices

Dr. Vadiveloo's research aims to understand whether targeting can increase the adoption of healthier food patterns and consider whether such approaches can be adopted on a population-scale to help people make healthier food decisions.

Learn more [11]

2016 New Innovators in Food and Agriculture Research

Geoffrey Fisher, Ph.D.
Cornell University
New Innovator in Nutrition and Healthy Food Choices

Dr. Fisher's research will include a series of laboratory and field experiments that use a variety of eye tracking techniques to further our understanding of how attention to food attributes such as healthiness, tastiness, calories and packaging, might affect food purchasing decisions. The results of this project will inform new ways to promote healthier food choices by highlighting certain attributes of food choices.

More about this Innovator [12]
Amélie Gaudin, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
New Innovator in Soil Health

Dr. Gaudin’s research will explore the relationship between root systems, soil health promoting practices, and crop productivity in order to shed light on how breeders and producers can grow more productive and resilient crops using sustainable practices at a large scale.

More about this Innovator [13]

Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi, Ph.D.
Purdue University
New Innovator in Plant Efficiency

Dr. Iyer-Pascuzzi seeks to improve plant disease mitigation by investigating which genes are associated with root-mediated resistance, how diseases changes root architecture, and whether roots and shoots signal each other to suppress disease symptoms

More about this Innovator [14]

Mary Jamieson, Ph.D.
Oakland University
New Innovator in Plant Efficiency

Dr. Jamieson will investigate beneficial insects and the ecosystem services they provide, such as pollination and pest control, in urban agriculture. She will explore the composition of the insect community, evaluate strategies for enhancing ecosystem services provided by beneficial insects, and characterize the role that plant chemical compounds play in defending against insect pests and in attracting plant pollinators.

More about this Innovator [15]

Isaya Kisekka, Ph.D.
Kansas State University
New Innovator in Water Use

Dr. Kisekka's research will integrate data related to agricultural water use from a number of sources including soils, weather, and plant-based measurements to develop methods and tools for optimizing water use in agriculture. If successful, this research will lead to more farmers adopting proven irrigation techniques and provide tools for optimizing water use in agriculture across a variety of crops.

More about this Innovator [16]
Crystal Levesque, Ph.D.
South Dakota State University
New Innovator in Sustainable Farm Animal Productivity, Resilience, and Health

Dr. Levesque aims to increase protein production from pigs, while reducing inputs and environmental impacts. Focusing on dietary requirements during sow pregnancy, Dr. Levesque’s research will provide a basis for precision feeding formulations for sows to optimize reproductive performance.

More about this Innovator [17]

Benjamin Reading, Ph.D.
North Carolina State University
New Innovator in Sustainable Farm Animal Productivity, Resilience, and Health

Dr. Reading will use artificial intelligence to determine the genetic factors responsible for heterosis, or instances of offspring performing better than their parents, in hybrid striped bass. If successful, this research will not only help transform fish production/breeding, but could also impact agriculture more broadly.

More about this Innovator [18]
Mary Anne Roshni Amalaradjou, Ph.D.
University of Connecticut
New Innovator in Nutrition and Healthy Food Choices

Dr. Amalaradjou will investigate the effect of dairy foods on gut health using a mouse model. This research will provide a comprehensive and deeper understanding of the molecular interactions that promote the health benefits associated with dairy consumption. Advancing this nutritional knowledge will empower consumers to make science-based healthful food choices.

More about this Innovator [19]

Lisa Tiemann, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
New Innovator in Soil Health

Dr. Tiemann’s research will focus on the interactions between crop diversity, soil microorganisms and soil organic matter, and how they may be managed to enhance soil services and sustainably increase crop yields.

More about this Innovator [20]

Join the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research in supporting the next generation of food and agriculture scientists. 

If you or your organization is interested in becoming a sponsoring partner in this effort, please email Renée Bullion [21], Director of Development.