FFAR Announces New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Awardees

WASHINGTON (August 12, 2020) – Today the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced the eight recipients of the 2019 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research, an award granted to early career scientists supporting research in one of the Foundation’s six Challenge Areas. The recipients will receive a total of $1,744,803 over three years, with matching funds from each recipients’ respective institutions to double FFAR’s investment for a total of $3,494,132.

The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award provides early career scientists with funding to conduct audacious food and agriculture research. Investing in these scientists in the early years of their careers allows them to pursue innovative and transformational ideas uninhibited by the pressure of identifying their next grant.

Preparing for the next frontier of agricultural innovation starts with investing in today’s scientific workforce. We are thrilled to support emerging superstars in food and agriculture research as they develop cutting-edge strategies to revolutionize food production, processing and distribution. Sally Rockey, Ph.D.
Executive Director Emeritus

The following individuals are the 2019 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award recipients:

Dr. Jared Ali, The Pennsylvania State University

Ali’s research is discovering mechanisms and chemical ecology-based management practices that control interactions linking cover crops, soil dynamics and beneficial organisms to increase crop resistance to pests and pathogens.

Dr. Jessica Cooperstone, The Ohio State University

Cooperstone’s research combines plant breeding/genetics, analytical chemistry, bioinformatics and nutrition to develop tomatoes that are more beneficial for human health.

Dr. Paul Dyce, Auburn University

Dyce’s research is improving the efficiency of cattle production by identifying molecular markers that indicate reproductive potential. The use of these markers can provide a better understanding of the underlying causes of unexplained infertility within the cow-calf sector leading to potential therapeutic options.

Dr. Andres Espindola Camacho, Oklahoma State University

Espindola Camacho’s research uses cutting-edge, high-throughput sequencing to determine what affects plant health. Specially, Espindola Camacho is sequencing a plant’s microbiome, a collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on a plant, to determine those organisms that positively or negatively impact the plant.

Dr. Landon Marston, Virginia Tech University

Marston’s research will create new knowledge and decision-making tools to help irrigators conserve scarce water resources while preserving their livelihood. These decision-support systems will aid farmers in formulating optimal multiyear cropping and water-allocation strategies under uncertain climatic and market conditions.

Dr. Nathan Mueller, Colorado State University

Mueller’s research is investigating the reliance of irrigated crop production on snowmelt water resources globally. The project will heighten our understanding of snowmelt-dependent agriculture hotspots and how trends in water supplies and crop water demands influence water scarcity.

Dr. Neha Potnis, Auburn University

Traditional disease management strategies often fail to prevent recurring outbreaks. Potnis’s research is testing a two-pronged approach to transform disease management strategies and identify control approaches that are practical and profitable.

Dr. Susan Whitehead, Virginia Tech

Whitehead’s research is developing new ecologically based management practices for apples that can boost the content of health-promoting phytochemicals in fruit. If successful, these technologies could be applied to a variety of crops to improve the quality of food and boost the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables.


Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking

This press release was edited on August 20, 2020 to include the final 2019 New Innovator awardee, Susan Whitehead.

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