University gets USDA research dollars

An $800,000 U.S Department of Agriculture grant will fund agriculture and bio-security control research projects at Florida A&M University and provide internship opportunities for students.

The money will be split between FAMU’s Colleges of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture. So far “The Development of a Raspberry Genetic Improvement Program” received $299,782.99, FAMU’s Center for Biological Control, received $299,996, and the “Development of a Regulatory Plant Science Curriculum” received $199,754.

The Raspberry Genetic Improvement Program grant is designed to help local farmers improve pollination, seed germination, drought stress and low chilling methods in raspberry cultivation, according to Bobby R. Phills, coordinator of the Small Fruit Program.

Phills added that the grant is also going to allow students within the program to partner up with companies like USDA and the Department of Homeland Security for opportunities.

“Those who are interested and have a good knowledge of biology can receive internships,” said Phills. He is willing to assist students who want to further pursue their doctorate and master’s degrees Phills added.

The process for FAMU to receive this competitive grant was carefully planned and developed by the faculty of CESTA and the Small Fruit Program.

FAMU’s Center for Biological Control and the Regulatory Plant Science Curriculum is focused on bio-security which safe guards the nation’s agriculture from harmful invasive organisms. Students will be trained for positions in national security in hopes of being employed at places such as airports.

According to Moses K. Kairo, an associate professor and director for the Center for Biological Control at FAMU, the Bio-Security Research program educates, trains and prepares students for positions in the plant protections field.

“The grant is not only going to assist the funding of the bio-security projects underway here at FAMU,” said Kairo, ” but will also provide opportunities for CESTA and or biology students to receive internships nationally and internationally with companies such as the USDA and the Department of Homeland Security.”

FAMU students should take advantage of this grant to get prepared for positions in the plant field by visiting the College of Engineering Sciences department or speaking with their professors, Kairo said.