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FFAR Announces Recipients of the 2018 New Innovator Award

This $2.3 Million Award Supports Innovative Food and Agriculture Research Projects

WASHINGTON, (December 17, 2018) – The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) today announced nine early-career faculty members as recipients of the 2018 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award. The New Innovator Award provides the early investment needed to successfully launch a scientific career in food and agriculture. The award recipients were selected on a number of criteria including scientific merit, innovation and a demonstrated commitment to mentoring other young scientists.

The recipients will receive a total of $2,332,051 over three years, with matching funds from each recipients’ respective institutions to double FFAR’s investment for a total of $4,675,795.

These important grants will allow early-career faculty members to spend less time applying for grants and more time on creative research that has an impact on agriculture. FFAR New Innovators also are terrific mentors for the next generation of food and agriculture scientists who will follow them. Sally Rockey, Ph.D.
Executive Director Emeritus

FFAR’s New Innovator program invests in the next generation of scientists committed to changing the way food is grown, processed and distributed. Investing in new university faculty, their creative and potentially transformative research projects is critical to addressing the current challenges facing agriculture.

The following individuals are the 2018 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award recipients:

Amanda Ashworth United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service
Ashworth’s research will provide information that advances sustainable agriculture production and technology-use on Tribal Lands. Ultimately, this New Innovator Award will integrate functional soil maps for culturally important agro-ecological systems that realize optimum returns and accomplish conservation goals.

Arianne Cease, Arizona State University
Cease’s project will explore connections between land-use practices and locust outbreaks and identify and address barriers to sustainable locust management. The project will collaborate with stakeholders to increase capacity to institutionalize knowledge and integrate research and management by working across regions, sectors and disciplines.

Tu-Anh Huynh, the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Huynh’s research will examine the interactions of Listeria monocytogenes with cattle gastrointestinal tract microbiota. Although clinical listeriosis is rare, L. monocytogenes is frequently shed by dairy cattle, reflecting a high prevalence of infection and carriage.

Lav Khot, Washington State University
Khot’s research aims to develop and scientifically evaluate alternative pest management technologies that can aid conventional and organic growers in reducing their reliance on broad spectrum pesticides that result in residues on foods and in environmental contamination.

Manuel Kleiner, North Carolina State University
Kleiner’s research will link dietary components to the microbes in the intestinal tract of humans and animals that consume and convert them. Knowing which dietary components impact which microbes will help design diets that foster health-promoting microbes and deplete disease-causing microbes of their food source.

Amit Morey, Auburn University
Morey’s research will reduce food waste in the food supply chain. The project will develop a product termed “Functional Ice” for storage and transportation of raw poultry and seafood. The research team will develop a “First-Expire-First-Out” (FEFO) concept to replace the customary “First-In-First-Out” (FIFO) in food supply chains to help grocery stores reduce food waste.

Yiping Qi, the University of Maryland-College Park
Qi will develop CRISPR-Cas12a based plant genome editing systems with broadened targeting range and improved editing activity and specificity. If successful, these new gene editing tools will promote accelerated plant breeding for generating crops of high productivity and stress resistance under climate change and global warming.

Jason Wallace, the University of Georgia
Wallace will study how crops are affected by the microbes that live inside them and how the environment impacts this relationship. This work will help understand how microbes affect crop production and how to harness them to improve agriculture.

Matt Yost, Utah State University
Yost’s research will identify the combined effectiveness of several methods of water optimization in agriculture – more efficient water application and management and, advanced crop genetics. Winning combinations that surface will guide the way for stakeholders to invest in water conservation.