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Cornell taking applications for one-year ag fellowship

The new Thomas Wyatt Turner Fellowship is accepting applications for students to attend Cornell University for one year to engage in research and study related to inclusive and sustainable agricultural development.

Applicants should:

  • Be master’s or doctoral students
  • Be currently enrolled at a university within the 1890 land-grant system of historically Black universities in the U.S.
  • Apply by March 1 deadline

Hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement, the fellowship celebrates the life and legacy of Thomas Wyatt Turner, the first Black American to receive a Ph.D. in botany and the first Black person to receive a Ph.D. in any study at Cornell University.

Fellowship available for grad students in planning fields

Habitat for Humanity International and the US Agency for International Development Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA) is taking applications for the 2022 USAID/BHA Graduate Student Fellowships in Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements (S&S).  

The program supports fellows to engage in the Humanitarian S&S sector by supporting the thesis or professional report writing efforts of three graduate students. The students should be currently enrolled full-time in accredited North American graduate school programs or US citizens studying abroad in similar graduate programs in city, urban, environmental, or regional planning; and architecture or architectural engineering, civil or environmental engineering or similar disciplines. Application must be submitted by February 18, 2022.

Each award is worth up to $19,000 ($10,000 for stipend and up to $9,000 for travel related expenses).

Information can be found here: .  

Lobell wins National Academy honor for satellite work

The National Academy of Sciences has awarded David Lobell the 2022 NAS Prize in Food & Agriculture Sciences for his groundbreaking research on the effects of climate variability and change on global crop productivity. A professor of Earth system science at Stanford University, Lobell also collaborates on a Peanut Innovation Lab project in Malawi. 

The NAS Prize, endowed by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is awarded each year to US scientist making an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production. The prize comes with a medal and $100,000.

Lobell’s innovative use of remote sensing, statistics, ecosystem modeling and agronomy addresses challenges at the nexus of agriculture, food security and the environment. His work shows that investments in agriculture are one of the most cost-effective ways of limiting climate change.

The Lobell Lab at Stanford has accomplished numerous recent breakthroughs, demonstrating that in many agricultural systems, climate change is already affecting productivity. His team used new empirical approaches to show the importance of heat to major agricultural crops, including the impact of short periods of very high temperatures. By developing improved methods to use satellite data to measure agricultural productivity and management practices, he furthered scientific understanding of how specific interventions can improve productivity.

With the Peanut Innovation Lab, Lobell works with North Carolina State University’s Rick Brandenburg on the Satellite Image Analysis for Peanut project, which is evaluating how satellite images could be used to predict crop performance. By comparing GPS field coordinates, yield and crop quality data from several hundred smallholder farms against satellite images, the Stanford team may begin to estimate how a crop responds to certain conditions or interventions.  

APRES considers turning administration over to APC

The American Peanut Council (APC) is considering taking over the administration of the American Peanut Research and Education Society, as APRES’ long-time administrator retires. 

Leaders from APC and APRES already were discussing how they might work together to connect APRES’ research and education activities with APC members, who come from all segments of the peanut supply chain. When APRES Executive Officer Kim Cutchins announced that she intends to retire, the APC proposed taking the administrative management role for APRES.

APRES, which was founded in 1968 and has more than 500 members, will maintain its brand and identity, while expanding its reach across the peanut supply chain.

APRES President David Jordan organized an ad hoc committee (a representative from each segment of the membership) to review the administrative management proposal from APC and make a recommendation to the board. The committee spent the four months reviewing the proposal, holding several Q&A sessions with APC, and discussing the proposal. 

Recently, the ad hoc committee presented a recommendation to the APRES Board:

APRES and the American Peanut Council enter a two-year trial period in which APC will assume administrative management functions of APRES. The target date for transition is April 1, 2022. Current Executive Officer Kim Cutchins will continue as Executive Officer until the trial period agreement is signed and will continue to serve as a consultant to APRES through the 2022 Annual Meeting to ensure a smooth transition.

The APRES Board of Directors endorsed the recommendation, but is allowing APRES members the opportunity to ask questions and offer input. Comments are due by January 10, 2022, and should be sent to Jordan at .

USAID to hold higher ed global summit

USAID is making plans for the first Higher Education Global Evidence Summit, a virtual event that will showcase emerging research, new data, trends, and promising practices as they relate to higher education in a global forum. Submit proposals through Dec. 9, 2021. 

Members of the research community, development practitioners, and USAID staff will explore three interrelated themes: Employability, Innovation, and Private Sector Engagement in support of the USAID Higher Education Learning Agenda.  

The event will take place virtually over three weeks in May 2022: May 3 & 4, May 10 & 11, and May 17 & 18.  Event programming consists of two half-days over the three weeks, with four hours of programming each day (start and end times forthcoming). Learn more and register here.

As part of the goal to diversify participation in the summit, proposals from individuals in USAID partner countries will be given special consideration; however all academics, donors, practitioners, and students are encouraged to submit proposals. Find out more in the Call for Proposals.  

Apply now for peanut research funds

The Peanut Research Foundation (PRF) is soliciting research proposals, especially those that address disease resistance (initially focusing on leafspot), aflatoxin, drought tolerance and flavor conservation. Funding for projects generally is $10,000 to $100,000, but there are no strict limitations; approximately one-third of funds are earmarked for aflatoxin research.

Due to market resistance, the foundation does not fund research leading to GMO peanut cultivars.

The PRF funds research projects that develop germplasm or technologies that can be used by breeding programs to release cultivars with desirable traits and may also support breeding programs which utilize marker-assisted selection to incorporated desirable traits into agronomically acceptable cultivars. 

Evaluation criteria include: scientific merit; relevance to the advancement of the U.S. peanut industry; estimated timeline for the availability; release or commercial application of anticipated products from the research; availability of equipment and facilities; probability of success; and appropriateness of the budget.

All researchers receiving Peanut Research Foundation funding are expected to attend and report progress during the American Peanut Council Winter Conference which will be held in December 2021 in Washington, D.C. Proposals may address multiple areas listed above but must not exceed 10 pages.

Proposals are due by Oct. 30. Go to the Peanut Research Foundation website for more info.

In 3rd successful meeting, Ghana groundnut group works toward longterm sustainability

The Ghana Groundnut Working Group, a gathering of stakeholders from across the peanut value chain, met for the third annual meeting in July.

Despite the global pandemic more than 50 people attended the two-day event, including participants were from research institutes, universities, the Regional Agricultural Development unit, the Ministry of Health and an NGO (GIZ/MOAP), as well as farmers, seed producers and aggregators. 

Speakers presented the latest information on agronomy, crop protection, economics and health aspects of the peanut value chain. 

Students also shared their work. 

Participants agreed that the GGWG should attract more farmers to participate even it will require organisers to solicit funds. 

The meeting was made available via Zoom, a feature that organisers agreed should be promoted in the future to allow those who can’t attend physically to join via the Internet. 

“On the way forward with sustainability of the group, we put together a small committee to draft a constitution for the group. This will be the first step in getting us registered,” said Jerry Nboyine a research scientist at CSIR-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute who also serves as the leader of the GGWG steering committee.