Dr. Jared Ali
Pennsylvania State University
Lucyna Kurtyka, M.S.
This program is not accepting applications
The New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award provides early-career scientists the investment needed to propel them into successful research careers.
Young faculty in the sciences often struggle to secure grant funding. We established the New Innovator Awards to launch the careers of promising scientists whose research addresses significant food and agriculture challenges. These awards allow the grantees to focus exclusively on research without the pressure of securing additional funding.
We grant New Innovator Awards to faculty members in the first three years of their scientific career and are within eight years of receiving their Ph.D. Eligible candidates must also conduct research that aligns with our Challenge Areas.
Individuals with significant research experience prior to obtaining their faculty position are not eligible for this award.
Funding Amounts & Requirements
Each applicant can receive up to $150,000 per year for a maximum of three years totaling $450,000 investment from us.
To further support the grantees and allow them to fully focus on their research, matching funds are not required for this program.
Pennsylvania State University
Pests and pathogens destroy food crops, causing significant losses to farmers and threatening food security. The Pennsylvania State University research team is discovering mechanisms and management practices that manage interactions between cover crops, soil dynamics and beneficial organisms to increase crop resistance to pests and pathogens.
Ohio State University
Diet is the leading cause of many chronic diseases and improving diet can reduce the incidence of disease. Dr. Jessica Copperstone is combining plant breeding and genetics, analytical chemistry, bioinformatics and nutrition to develop tomatoes that are more beneficial for human health.
Cattle infertility causes significant loss for cattle producers. Dr. Paul Dyce is improving the efficiency of cattle production by identifying molecular markers that indicate reproductive potential. These markers can uncover the underlying causes of unexplained infertility, leading to potential therapeutic options. This research ultimately helps producers select cattle with the best reproductive capabilities.
Oklahoma State University
Plant pathogens can harm plants, reduce water quality and cause soil erosion. Dr. Andres Espindola Camacho uses cutting-edge, high-throughput sequencing to explain what affects plant health. Specially, this research sequences a plant’s microbiome, a collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on a plant, to determine how these organisms positively or negatively impact the plant.
Kansas State University
Agriculture accounts for about 38 percent of the nation’s freshwater withdrawals. Excessive water use results in over irrigation which can damage crops and soil. Dr. Landon Marston’s research investigates complex human-water systems to providing solutions for sustainable water resources management. His work explores how water is used throughout the food production enterprise to reduce water use within the global food system.
Colorado State University
Crops with high water demands and overuse of water supplies, lead to water scarcity. Dr. Nathan Mueller is investigating the reliance of irrigated crop production on snowmelt water resources globally. The project heightens our understanding of snowmelt-dependent agriculture hotspots and how trends in water supplies and crop water demands influence water scarcity.
Traditional disease management strategies often fail to prevent recurring outbreaks. Dr. Neha Potnis’s research is testing a two-pronged approach to transform disease management strategies and identify control approaches that are practical and profitable.
Dr. 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.
United State Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service
Tribal Nations limited access to conservation programs available to other US producers. These communities also have the highest incidence of diet-related diseases. Dr. Ashworth is providing soil information to improve agricultural productivity on Tribal Lands. This project leverages an innovative digital soil mapping process to provide first-ever soil maps and interpretations on Native lands to promote water and nutrient-smart agriculture.
Arizona State University
Locusts devastate agriculture globally, especially in subsistence farming communities. Locust outbreaks are unpredictable; however, sustainable land use can keep locusts at bay. Dr. Arianne Cease explores connections between land-use practices and locust outbreaks, while identifying and addressing barriers to sustainable locust management.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Listeria monocytogenes is a harmful pathogen that can cause severe illness. Dr. Tu-Anh Huynh is examining the interactions of L. 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.
Washington State University
Timely insect pest management is critical for quality tree fruit and wine grape production. However, consumers are increasingly alarmed by synthetic pesticide, which leave residues on produce and contaminate the environment. Dr. Lav Khot is evaluating alternative pest management technologies that aid conventional and organic growers in reducing their reliance on broad spectrum pesticides.
North Carolina State University
Diet effects gut microbiota, which can provide beneficial or detrimental effects in human and animal health. Dr. Manuel Kleiner is linking dietary components to the microbes in intestinal tracts of humans and animals to design diets that foster health-promoting microbes and deprive disease-causing microbes of their food source.
Global food loss and waste is a growing threat to food security. Dr. Amit Morey is reducing food waste in the food supply chain by developing “Functional Ice” for storage and transportation of raw poultry and seafood.
University of Maryland-College Park
Plant genome editing can increase agricultural productivity and help agriculture adapt to climate change. Dr. Yiping Qi is developing CRISPR-Cas12a based plant genome editing systems with broadened targeting range and improved editing activity and specificity. If successful, these tools could accelerate plant breeding for generating high-productivity crops with stress resistance to climate change.
University of Georgia
Agricultural production is not advancing fast enough to meet projected demands for food. Agricultural innovations and beneficial microorganisms, can increase crop growth, boost stress resistance and prevent diseases. Scientists and farmers must first understand how microorganisms work. Dr. Jason Wallace is studying how crops are affected by the microbes that live inside them and how the environment impacts this relationship.
Utah State University
Concerns about water scarcity are mounting due to rapid urban growth, depleting groundwater supplies and water shortages from climate trends. Dr. Matt Yost assesses the combined effectiveness of several methods of water optimization in agriculture, including more efficient water application and management and advanced crop genetics.
Iowa State University
Inefficient water use causes about 70 percent of Midwest crop losses. Crop models optimize water use; however, today’s models do not account for groundwater. This important source of water reduces the need for irrigation in dry years and enhances nitrogen and yield loss in wet years. Dr. Sotirios Archontoulis is developing models that predict impacts and designing mitigation strategies that improve water quality, soil health and productivity.
The Ohio State University
Standard soil testing can assess fertility in some fields but may fail in others. Soil organic matter, a pivotal component of a healthy and functioning soil, is often neglected in fertility recommendations. Dr. Steve Culman is investigating three promising tests of soil active organic matter to provide insight into nutrient cycling and nutrient supply to crops. This project will alleviate obstacles that limit widespread soil health testing.
University of Illinois
The microbiome in human guts and diets, are linked to diet-related diseases. Yet, researchers lack knowledge on how specific foods effect microbiome and how diet and the microbiome are related to disease treatment and prevention. Dr. Hannah Holscher is researching how foods impacts health. The project will help consumers to make healthful food choices.
Mississippi State University
Global commerce has introduced exotic plant pathogens and pests to new areas. Farmers need a reliable system to detect newly introduced pests and pathogens. Dr. Jonas King is combining existing technologies with novel data analysis to detect diverse plant pathogens and insects of importance in row crop, orchard and forestry settings. This research will ultimately protect agricultural systems.
University of California, Berkeley
Genome editing revolutionizes our ability to modify living systems and meet the growing demand for food. However, genetic engineering of mature plants remains a challenge. Dr. Markita Landry is optimizing crop engineering and nutrient delivery tools to produce sustainable and high-yielding crops.
Texas A&M University
Candidatus Liberibacter spp. is a fastidious pathogen, bacteria that only grow in specific conditions, that causes the potato zebra chip and citrus greening diseases. These pathogens do not grow in a laboratory, making them difficult to study. Dr. Kranthi Mandadi is testing a screening method for disease resistance genes and chemicals to combat the pathogens causing these diseases. The research will translate into disease management strategies that prevent crop and economic losses.
University of Illinois
Agriculture relies on fertilizer to maximize crop yield. However, up to 70 percent of applied nitrogen in fertilizer is not absorbed by plants, causing extensive air and water pollution. Researchers have limited information about the nitrogen process in plants at the molecular level. Dr. Diwakar Shukla is developing new approaches to understand the plant nitrogen uptake process and prevent pollution.
University of Rhode Island
New approaches are necessary to prevent diet-related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Dr. Maya Vadiveloo analyzes whether individually targeted incentives increase the adoption of healthier food patterns to cost-effectively improve health. This research uses an individual’s past food choices to inform the targeted food incentives, which ultimately improves food quality purchases.
When consumers make food choices, they choose between nutritional content and more immediate attributes, such as taste and convenience. Dr. Geoffrey Fisher promotes healthier food choices by highlighting certain attributes of food selections through laboratory and field experiments.
University of California, Davis
Soil health management practices increase food production and decrease agriculture’s environmental footprint. However, existing research overlooks the role plants play in using soil health to increase yields. Dr. Amelie Gaudin is transforming soil health into yield by exploring the relationship between root systems, soil health and crop productivity. This research identifies how producers can grow resilient crops using sustainable practices at scale.
Plant root diseases can cause lower yields. Some plant varieties are resistant to root disease, but the mechanisms underlying resistance are unclear. Dr. Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi is examining how roots mediate disease-resistance by using tomato and a soilborne bacterial pathogen as a model.
Urban agriculture is a growing component of food systems. However, few studies focus on factors limiting crop productivity in urban environments and little is known about how insect pollinators and pests affect urban farms. Dr. Mary Jamieson investigates the composition of insect communities, while evaluating strategies for enhancing ecosystem services. This research improves crop pollination, pest control and yields in urban agriculture.
Kansas State University
Projected increases in demands for food, feed and fiber will require more water. Semi-arid environments already face challenges in maintaining agricultural productivity under declining water supplies and climate change will exacerbate this challenge. Dr. Isaya Kisekka is improving water productivity in agriculture by integrating data related to agricultural water use by several sources such as soils, weather and plant-based measurements.
South Dakota State University
Precision feeding allows pork producers to meet pigs’ nutrient requirements, while minimizing nutrient excretion and environmental risk. Reproductive sows represent an opportunity increase efficiency and reduce environmental costs. Dr. Crystal Levesque is assessing precision feeding formulations for pregnant sows to optimize reproductive performance and reduce environmental impacts.
North Carolina State University
To enhance fish production and breeding, North Carolina State University researcher, Dr. Benjamin Reading is using artificial intelligence to determine the genetic factors responsible heterosis, or instances of offspring performing better than their parents, in hybrid striped bass.
University of Connecticut
The interactions between food and health are complicated and there is limited research on genes and dietary nutrients essential to human health. Dr. Mary Anne Roshni Amalaradjou researchers the effect of dairy foods on gut health. This research is the first in-depth study of the effect of dairy consumption on multiple levels of human physiology.
Michigan State University
Farmer rotate crop to increase crop productivity, yet there is lack of information on how rotational diversity impacts soil microorganisms. Michigan State University researcher, Dr. Lisa Tiemann studies the interactions between crop diversity, soil microorganisms and soil organic matter. This research helps build soil health through rotational diversity and soil microorganisms.
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