Foundation for Food and Ag Research announces first research awards

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, November 16, 2016 - The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) on Wednesday announced the first recipients of its New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Awards.

The nine recipients, all assistant university professors, will receive a total of $4.8 million over five years. Matching funds from each awardee's respective institution will leverage the Foundation's investment of up to $300,000 per recipient.

FFAR, a non-profit established by the 2014 farm bill, said its New Innovator program invests in new university faculty, their “creative and potentially transformative research projects,” and the students and post-doctoral scholars who work on those projects. The aim is to help create a scientific workforce committed to innovating the way food is grown, helping to meet the growing global demand for food.

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“Awarding our first research grants is a landmark occasion for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and it is a particular honor to invest in the bold ideas of nine scientists who show such extraordinary promise so early in their careers,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR's executive director. “I am confident that these awards will propel the inaugural New Innovators in Food and Agriculture Research down the fast track to success in their respective fields and I look forward to following their progress toward transformative food and agriculture discoveries.”

Awardees will investigate research questions in five of the Foundation's seven research target areas:  

--Nutrition and Healthy Food Choices: Geoffrey Fisher at Cornell University and Mary Anne Roshni Amalaradjou, University of Connecticut.

--Plant Efficiency: Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi, Purdue University, and Mary Jamieson, Oakland University.

--Soil Health: Amelie Gaudin, University of California-Davis, and Lisa Tiemann, Michigan State University.

--Sustainable Farm Animal Productivity, Resilience, and Health: Crystal Levesque, South Dakota State University, and Benjamin Reading, North Carolina State University.

--Water Use: Isaya Kisekka, Kansas State University.

Click here to learn more about the 2016 New Innovators and their research plans.

Research projects include harnessing technology and data to improve water management strategies on farms, advancing understanding of gut health benefits from dairy consumption, and improving urban agricultural production by exploring the effects of beneficial insects, pest control and pollination on crop yields in urban environments.

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A public request for nominations for the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award was limited to researchers within the first three years of their faculty careers. FFAR says that during this period securing funding can be challenging enough to lead aspiring food and agriculture scientists to direct their research toward other fields with more funding available. 

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. Applicants were required to demonstrate a commitment to mentoring, supporting the Foundation's interest in inspiring future generations of agricultural and food scientists.

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