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Purdue Center for Global Food Security Awards 31 Research Grants on U.S. Student Projects

A Purdue University research center committed to helping the next generation strengthen international development and solve the global food insecurity problem is awarding $608,341 in grants to graduate students at 19 U.S. universities.

by Purdue University
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Gebisa Ejeta.Photo courtesy of Purdue UniversityAs part of the U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security program, the Purdue Center for Global Food Security announced Monday (April 28) 31 research grants to graduate and doctoral student projects in 17 countries.

The U.S. Agency for International Development funds the program. The grants are intended to give exceptional students the opportunity to conduct field research overseas in developing countries. The 2014 Borlaug Fellows come from 19 universities, including Purdue, and were awarded grants ranging from $15,000 to $40,826.

"From examining grain market price stabilization in Nigeria to investigating soil nitrogen depletion in Africa, this year's recipients are using their cross-cultural, interdisciplinary knowledge and their personal leadership skills to finding solutions for achieving global food security," said distinguished agronomy professor Gebisa Ejeta, director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security in Discovery Park.

"We are impressed with the quality of the students and their research problems. We look forward to helping these bright leaders of tomorrow establish long-term research collaborations and preparing them to take on this most fundamental global agenda."

The four funded projects led by Purdue graduate students are:

  • Patrick Hatzenbuehler - Grain market prize stabilization and household response: Food security and Nigerian grain markets in Nigeria.
  • Heather Pasley - Investigation of possible soil nitrogen depletion when maize hybrids with superior NUE are grown in African soils in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
  • Elizabeth Trybula - Crop water productivity response to conservation agriculture in South Africa.
  • Caitlin Grady - Evaluation of program effectiveness: The case of "research for development" and food security in the Mekong River Basin in Laos.

The other 27 funded student-led projects, their universities and the country are listed below:


  • Patrick Bell, Ohio State University - Sustainable intensification for improving soil quality and adaption to climate change for smallholder farmers in the Uluguru Mountain of Tanzania.
  • Anne-Elizabeth Cafer, University of Missouri - Sowing and reaping: A socio-cultural investigation of farmers' adoption of improved management practices in South Wollo, Ethiopia.
  • Lance Goettsch, Iowa State University - Practical methods to alleviate edaphic constraints to common bean production in Masaka, Uganda.
  • Chesney McOmber, University of Florida - Gendering the impacts of climate change: Comparative analysis of migration and empowerment in agricultural communities in Morocco and Kenya.
  • Rachel Miller, Cornell University - Working toward development of an improved vaccine for CBPP: Enhancing livestock's role in achieving food security in Kenya.
  • Amy Quandt, University of Colorado, Boulder - Building livelihood resilience in semiarid Kenya: What role does agroforestry play in Kenya?
  • Kathleen Tavenner, Pennsylvania State University - Co-management regimes in protected areas of South Africa: Implications of gender equity in the forest-food security nexus in South Africa.
  • Anna Testen, Ohio State University - Establishing a village-based soil and plant health-monitoring program for tomato in Tanzania.
  • Sarah Stefanos, University of Wisconsin, Madison - Bioslurry as fertilizer in Uganda.
  • Stephen Wood, Columbia University - Understanding the role of agricultural biodiversity in promoting human nutrition and ecological sustainability in Senegal.
  • Kayla Yurco, Pennsylvania State University - When the cows come home: Pastoral livelihoods, nutrition, and food security in southern Kenya.
  • David Brynes, Rutgers University - Selection of vegetable amaranth for high-yield, multiple harvests, high-nutrition and minimal anti-nutritive components in Tanzania.
  • Nathan Clay, Pennsylvania State University - Transitioning agrarian livelihoods and ecologies in Rwanda.
  • John Connors, Arizona State University - Agricultural intensification and sustainable livelihoods in Tanzania.
  • Emma Flemming, Virginia Tech University - Characterization of genetic resources and food security status of smallholder farms in post-conflict South Sudan.
  • Christian Guzman, Cornell University - Collaborative soil and water management for enhanced agricultural productivity in the Ethiopian Highlands.
  • Nicolas Jelinski, University of Minnesota - Capturing dynamic soil properties across global agricultural systems to support sustainable intensification and food security initiatives in Kenya.
  • Andrew Margenot, University of California, Davis - Integrating soil quality as a function of smallholder management strategies to secure food production of East Africa in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Tyler Rundel, University of Florida - Smallholder adoption of indigenous fruit trees in Cameroon.


  • Erin Biehl, Johns Hopkins University - Using cost of diet analysis to link agricultural interventions and nutritional status in rural Nepal.
  • Margaret Rose Douglas, Pennsylvania State University - Reversing the pesticide treadmill: Safe and effective management of key insect pests of lablab bean (Lablab purpureus) using biopesticides and natural enemies in Bangladesh.
  • Claire Fitch, Johns Hopkins University - Farming for health: Leveraging small-scale agriculture for nutrition and food security in Nepal.
  • John Laborde, University of Nebraska, Lincoln - Crop-livestock integration in a conservation agriculture system: Intercropped forages to meet crop residue demands and reduce weed pressure in Nepal.
  • Jenkins Macedo, Clark University - Enhancing soil nutrients and water conservation through sustainable farming techniques in Laos.

Central America

  • Levi Keesecker, University of Idaho - Sustaining bee pollinators in agricultural landscapes to enhance food security: Pollination services provided by wild bees originating from remnant forests in Costa Rica.
  • Hector Tavarez Vargas, University of Idaho - Alleviating water scarcity in seasonally dry rural Costa Rica: The value of ecosystem service co-benefits from reforestation in Costa Rica.

South America

  • Libby Rens, University of Florida - Increasing sustainability of potato production with restricted water and nutrient resources in Peru.

The program is dedicated to Norman E. Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner and prominent figure in the "green revolution." Borlaug developed a disease-resistant wheat variety and is credited for his work saving lives and preventing hunger.

Along with the fellowship grant, the Center for Global Food Security also hosts the Summer Institute on Global Food Security. Through discussions with cross-disciplined experts, this two-week learning program provides the working knowledge need to solve world problems. Sixty-six students from 33 universities have participated in the 2012 and 2013 summer institutes.

The Center for Global Food Security was launched Purdue's Discovery Park in 2010 to address an increasing challenge: to make sure there is enough food, feed and fuel for a growing world population.