UD, Federal University of Lavras conduct agricultural research

July 14, 2011 under CANR News

To expand its global curriculum and stay atop leading international agricultural practices, the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), along with the College of Arts and Sciences, has received a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and International Science and Education program (USDA-NIFA-ISE) to continue on a three-year partnership with the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) in Brazil.

Lead investigators on the grant are Nicole Donofrio, assistant professor, and Tom Sims, T.A. Baker Professor, both from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Kirk Czymmek, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. The project team, however, is much larger, including 14 UD faculty from seven departments in the two colleges.

Adding another USDA-ISE grant — along with one established to develop coursework regarding sustainable watershed management practices with India in 2008 — means that CANR now has strong connections with two countries that are considered agricultural leaders in the world. And while the new grant will benefit CANR, it also will be valuable to other sections of the University.

Donofrio explained the far-reaching implications of the grant, saying, “Our USDA-NIFA-ISE grant will support undergraduate internships to work with our visiting scientists from Brazil as well as to visit our collaborating university in Lavras, Brazil, to help build teaching modules for incorporation into UD courses.

“The goal here is to recruit undergraduates from across the University, and for them to get ‘real-world’ experience by interacting with Brazilian colleagues both here and in Brazil, in order to make meaningful course modules. The grant will also provide opportunities for as many as 12 Ph.D. students from UFLA to visit UD and spend up to a year working with our faculty on collaborative research projects.”

In the future, the hope is to establish both long-standing academic programs and research partnerships, with both institutions helping each other in those areas in which their research overlaps.

Sims, who is deputy dean of the CANR, spoke positively about the emerging UD and UFLA partnership, saying, “UFLA is an outstanding university, engaged in research and teaching programs that are highly relevant to major contemporary global issues. The grant will provide our faculty with wonderful opportunities to enhance our teaching and research programs related to food security, bioenergy, ecology and environmental quality.

“It will also allow teams of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students to make extended visits to Brazil to broaden their understanding of the complex nature of these critically important areas.”

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