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Animal Health IL offering PhD scholarships in Kenya

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Animal Health has nine PhD scholarships available at the University of Nairobi. The successful candidates will receive full scholarships to cover the 3-year PhD tuition fee, research expenses, and monthly stipends for the duration of the PhD (tenable for strictly three (3) years).

The main areas of study include epidemiology, socio-anthropology, molecular diagnostics, human nutrition, socioeconomics and vaccine development; providing the successful candidates with opportunities to learn and work within a multi-institutional and multi- disciplinary environment.

Each PhD fellow will be attached to one of AHIL’s main research projects and will receive training and mentorship from consortium members at UoN, WSU, ILRI, KEMRI and KALRO.

The lab aims to improve human nutrition, economic welfare and resilience, by removing constraints to cattle health and production in Kenya and East Africa. The Animal Health Innovation Lab (AHIL) is led by Washington State University Paul G Allen School for Global Animal Health (WSU) in partnership with the University of Nairobi (UoN), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and scientists from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

The application deadline is 10 February. All applications MUST be submitted through the link above. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Click to Apply for the Animal Health Innovation Lab PhD positions

For informal enquiries, please contact gkgitau@uonbi.ac.ke and copy thumbi.mwangi@wsu.edu

USAID taking proposals for new food systems lab

USAID is accepting concept notes to implement the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Systems for Nutrition program.

The Food System Innovation Lab will design, lead and implement a program of nutrition-sensitive food-system research and capacity-building aimed at addressing opportunities and challenges, and will serve as a resource to the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS), missions and their partners on the role of food systems in inclusive economic growth, nutrition, food safety, and a nutrition-sensitive approaches, gender-sensitive and youth-inclusive development, and resilience.

The Food System for Nutrition Innovation Lab is expected to help implement and communicate impact pathways from nutrition-sensitive food systems research to development outcomes through partnerships with USAID mission-supported value chain programs, national partners, private companies and associations, community-based organizations and other donors and their programs.

The Innovation Lab will deliver on this vision by a) strengthening the capacities of select country and regional research institutions to undertake research that is relevant and sound, to communicate findings in ways that are more likely to influence government partners, policy makers, and practitioners, while b) implementing an integrated country, regional and global research agenda.

Only U.S. colleges and universities are eligible for the award, which is $25 million to $39.9 million. The deadline to submit concept notes is March 8. Go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html and search for Funding Opportunity 7200AA21RFA00007.

Articles from Innovation Lab work in ‘Peanut Science’

Two papers based on research conducted under the Peanut Innovation Lab and its precursor, the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab, recently were published in Peanut Science. The peer-reviewed online research journal included one article on the cost-benefit of production interventions in northern Ghana and another article about crossing modern peanut with a peanut ancestor.

One of the articles, written by longtime Innovation Lab-collaborator Mumuni Abudulai, covers the increased yield and aflatoxin mitigation resulting from different combinations of production interventions in Northern Ghana. Abudulai, who recently retired as chief research scientist at the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, describes eight experiments conducted in 2016 and 2017 in northern Ghana to compare yield, financial returns, pest reaction, and aflatoxin contamination at harvest with traditional farmer versus improved practices. The research analyzes the impact of improved crop management tools such as applying calcium-containing fertilizer, weeding at various stages of growth, drying harvested nuts on a tarp and storing in hermetically-sealed bags.

Find the article here: Abudulai, M, G Mahama, I Dzomeku, A Seidu, I Sugri, J A Nboyine, N Opoku, et al. 2020. “Evaluation of Agricultural Practices to Increase Yield and Financial Return and Minimize Aflatoxin Contamination in Peanut in Northern Ghana.” Peanut Science 47 (December): 156–62.

Similar work done in central Ghana was conducted around the same time and published last year, as well.

In another recent article in Peanut Science, Davis Gimode, described work to analyze the seed composition profile of a chromosome segment substitution line (CSSL) population of peanut. The lines were developed by crossing Fleur 11, a farmer preferred Spanish cultivar from West Africa with a synthetic allotetraploid. The latter was developed by crossing A. duranensis to A. ipaensis and tetraploidizing the resultant hybrid. Subsequent selection with genetic markers resulted in a population comprising lines with small chromosome segments from the wild in a cultivated peanut background. The objective of the study was to characterize the protein, total oil, fatty acid and sugar profiles of the population. 

Find that article here: Gimode, D, Y Chu, L Dean, C Holbrook, D Fonceka, and P Ozias-Akins. 2020. “Seed Composition Survey of a Peanut CSSL Population Reveals Introgression Lines with Elevated Oleic/Linoleic Profiles.” Peanut Science 47 (December): 139–49.

Gimode worked on Innovation Lab’s genomics projects while pursuing a PhD through the University of Georgia.

USAID taking input for new innovation lab


The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS) has issued a Draft Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Current and Emerging Threats to Crops (CETC) which aims to design, lead, and implement a research program focused on the control of current and emerging biotic threats to food security crops that the poor depend on. To view the draft NOFO, please visit: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=330439

Comments are requested to help refine key elements of the draft design to ensure clarity, maximum development impact, coordination with existing and planned USAID and other development partner programs, and alignment with country and regional priorities. USAID/RFS may significantly revise this proposed new activity and planned solicitation after receiving comments from this and completing further consultations with internal and external stakeholders.

Please provide comments no later than January 22 by 4 p.m., Washington, DC time via email to lleach@usaid.gov.

The CETC Innovation Lab funding opportunity will be issued at a later date and  will be announced on the grants website at https://www.grants.gov early next year. 

UGA awarded FtF project for food safety in Senegal dairies

The University of Georgia has received a $700,000 grant from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety to help improve food safety in Senegal’s dairy industry.

The project is part of a larger $2.9 million parent grant from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, based at Cornell and Purdue Universities and funded by USAID as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Led by Manpreet Singh, professor in the UGA Department of Poultry Science and interim head of the Department of Food Science and Technology, the project will raise awareness of food safety issues, create training programs for dairy operators and coordinate comprehensive food safety regulations in the country. Jessica Marter-Kenyon, a post-doctoral researcher who serves as the Peanut Innovation Lab’s gender specialist also is a leader on the team. 

The project aims to enhance economic development in rural areas by organizing small dairy producers — who are predominantly women — and providing research and training to support and strengthen food safety in the value chain and to overcome barriers to the adoption of food safety practices, Singh said.

Read more about the project.

Kemerait wins award for international research

Bob Kemerait presents information to a crowd at the Georgia Peanut Tour in 2017.

Congrats to Bob Kemerait, a longtime collaborator with the Peanut Innovation Lab, who was recognized by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Science for his international research work. Kemerait has worked in Extension with UGA for 20 years, focusing on developing disease and nematode management strategies. At the same time, he has been a leader in USAID-funded projects to improve peanut production among small-scale farmers in Guyana, Haiti, and the Philippines. He recently received a Fulbright award to work with the faculty at Mariano Marcos State University and farmers in the northern Philippines to improve disease management and other production practices. In addition to this year’s D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Global Programs, in the past Kemerait won the D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension, the Dow AgroSciences Award for Excellence in Education from the American Peanut Research and Education Society, the Peanut Research and Education Award from the American Peanut Council, and the Walter B. Hill Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach.

Journal plans special issue on mycotoxins in food

Jagger Harvey, the director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss, is editing a special issue of the journal “Foods,” titled “Safeguarding the Global Food Supply: Advances in Mycotoxin Prevention, Surveillance and Mitigation”

“While research and development efforts are successfully increasing production, improving processing and expanding the availability of food globally, contamination with fungal toxins (mycotoxins) is increasingly recognized as a specter threatening global food and nutritional security. Food safety is a critical element of food security, and advances in avoiding and mitigating mycotoxin contamination represent a key component of this.,” said Harvey, who heads the lab out of the Department of Plant Pathology at Kansas State University.

“Mycotoxins pose a grave threat to agriculture, health, trade, and the environment, with aflatoxin alone estimated to threaten one quarter of the global food supply and the wellbeing of 4.5 billion people. U.S. corn producers could lose $1.68 billion, while stringent European regulations cost the African countries $670 million in export losses each year. 

A sustainable solution must include information, practices, and technologies that can substantially reduce mycotoxin accumulation in the food supply, along global food system value chains, he said.

 The special issue will include technical publications on biophysical and socioeconomic innovations and insights into mycotoxin prevention, surveillance, and mitigation, and an overview of how they can work together to improve food safety and security.

Information about submissions, requirements and deadlines can be found on the journal’s website