FFAR Renames Program, Creates Fund to Honor Dr. Rockey



WASHINGTON (October 7, 2021) – After a 35-year career pioneering agricultural research, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’s (FFAR) inaugural Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey is retiring – but her legacy of supporting early-career scientists will endure through the Rockey FFAR Fellows Program. 

FFAR is renaming the FFAR Fellows Program as the Rockey FFAR Fellows Program to honor Rockey’s commitment to preparing the future scientific workforce. Additionally, FFAR is establishing the Rockey FFAR Fellows Fund to make professional development opportunities more accessible to students from all backgrounds. FFAR aims to raise $1.5 million, which when matched with FFAR funds, will provide $3 million to endow the professional development track of the FFAR Fellows Program.

The Rockey FFAR Fellows Program provides networking, leadership and communications training to impressive and ambitious Ph.D. students across the country who are conducting food and agriculture research. With the establishment of the Rockey FFAR Fellows Fund, a wider range of young researchers will have the opportunity to hone valuable professional skills that will broaden the scope, reach and influence of their work. Dr. Rebecca Dunning
North Carolina State University, director of the Rockey FFAR Fellows Program

Established in 2018 in collaboration with North Carolina State University, the Rockey FFAR Fellows Program provides professional development training and opportunities to bolster Fellows’ professional networks. Select Fellows also receive funding for research that aligns with FFAR’s Challenge Areas. All Fellows are paired with industry and other mentors who provide career guidance and facilitate students’ transition to the workforce. This unique program prepares a career-ready science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce by breaking down disciplinary silos and focusing on professional development and soft skills.

The Program requires Fellows to secure matching funds to participate. Specifically, the Fellows must secure $5,000 annually, or $15,000 over the three-year program, to participate in the Program; students in the research tracks must secure these funds in addition to the matching research funds. Fellows from smaller universities or those with less-established research departments may struggle to secure the matching funding necessary to participate. The requirement to secure funding further stifles the inclusion of important research areas and the diversity of individual perspectives engaged in food and agriculture research.

The Rockey FFAR Fellows Fund aims to make the professional development trainings available to all participants by not requiring them to secure matching funds. With less financial burden, the Program will be more accessible to students who may not otherwise have the resources or connections to participate. Bolstering the diversity of Fellows paves the way for the development of a well-rounded scientific workforce prepared to tackle future food and agriculture challenges. 

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About the 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 

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