Click HERE to apply to the 2021-2024 FFAR Fellows Program

NEW:
Students from any university in the U.S. or Canada are eligible to apply for both categories of the Fellowship.

Sponsorship, matched equally by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, can be derived from industry, foundations, NGOs, commodity organizations, and non-federal university funds. Sponsorship from several of these can be combined to support a student.

Two categories of sponsorship are available:

  • Stipend + Professional Development
  • Professional Development

Stipend + Professional Development Fellows
(Anticipated Application Deadline: February 22, 2021)

Students accepted into the Stipend + Professional Development category will receive $49,500 each year to cover tuition, fees, stipend, and related costs. Students applying to this category should already have a defined research project and an industry or analogous sponsor (e.g., grower organization, foundation). The sponsor(s) will commit $32,500 per year to the Fellowship, matched equally by FFAR. The total of $65,000 is distributed as follows: $49,500 for student stipend tuition, fees, etc.; $5,500 for university overhead; and $10,000 is retained by the FFAR Fellowship Program lead institution, North Carolina State University, for program management and costs of the professional development training including five face-to-face meetings over the 3-year period. While preference is given to candidates with industry or analogous sponsors, university departments may also sponsor students as long as the source of funds is non-federal. Applicants can also be sponsored by a mix of entities, for example, 50% by their institution, 25% by industry, 25% by a commodity organization. Student applicants must be enrolled or accepted by a PhD program at a U.S. or Canadian university.

Professional Development Fellows (Application Deadline: April 15, 2021)

Students accepted into the Professional Development category are full members of the cohort and  receive support for professional development activities (valued at $10,000K/year). These funds are retained by the FFAR Fellows Program lead institution, North Carolina State University, for program management and costs of the professional development training including the 5 face-to face sessions held over the 3-year program period. Half of this value is provided by the fellowship, and half by a match sponsor. The sponsor will be invoiced for $5,000 per year for each of the three years of the program. Sponsors can include companies, foundations, and any other source of funding that are non-federal (examples of federal funds not accepted: USDA, NIH, or NSF grant funds). Applicants can be sponsored by a mix of entities, for example, 50% by their institution, 25% by industry, 25% by a commodity organization.  Students applying to this category should have a research or teaching assistantship, or other fellowship, to cover their tuition, stipend, and related costs and be enrolled or accepted by a PhD program at a U.S. or Canadian university.

A student who is selected as a FFAR Fellow in the Professional Development category in one year may apply in a subsequent year for the Stipend + Professional Development category. Regardless of the outcome of that application, the student would continue with his/her original cohort of Fellows.

Professional Development Category Scholarship

The 2021-2024 FFAR Fellows Program includes two scholarships to support Professional Development Fellows.  Students applying for the scholarship are exempt from the requirement to have a financial sponsor. Scholarships will be awarded to those students who enhance the diversity of the cohort. In this case, diversity is defined as underrepresented groups and underrepresented research subject matter. Students should address their contribution to the diversity of the cohort in their Statements of Interest.

Application and Eligibility

Eligibility Requirements for 2021 Applicants

  • Completion of a masters degree or one year of a PhD program by June 2021
  • Acceptance in a PHD program by May 1, 2021
  • Three years remaining in the degree program (Fall 2021 to Spring 2024)
  • A confirmed PhD faculty advisor
  • TOEFL Score indicating a minimum of 25/30 for listening, speaking, writing (exclusions for those with an undergraduate or master’s degree from  programs with English as a language of instruction)
  • Confirmation of a financial sponsor (sponsors can include companies, foundations, NGOs, grower organizations; university departments can also sponsor students using non-federal funds)
  • Residency or study visa

Application Components

  • Statement of Interest in the FFAR Fellows Program (1500 words)
  • Statement of Proposed Research (1500 words + 1 page tables/figures/references)
  • Student CV
  • Faculty adviser CV
  • Three or four reference letters. For students already in a PhD program, three letters are required, one of which should be from the current advisor. For students with an MS but not currently in a PhD program four letters are required, one of which is from the MS advisor and one from the future PhD advisor.
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts.  Unofficial transcripts are allowed. Official transcripts may be requested if the applicant is selected.
  • Letter of financial commitment from the financial sponsor(s) (must be a non-federal source of funds)

The Review Process

The applicant’s research topic must address one or more of FFAR’s Six Challenge Areas, and the student must meet all eligibility requirements.
Applications are considered by a selection committee comprised of the following:

  • Scientists and business professionals from companies in the fields of agriculture and the life sciences
  • Research and academic administrators from university programs in agriculture and the life sciences
  • Program officers from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

Applications are judged primarily on the quality of the student and the student’s potential to benefit from and contribute to a peer cohort of future leaders in the science of food and agriculture.  The quality of the proposed research is also considered, and should balance creativity and practical applicability, while contributing to the science of the discipline.

Additional Information on Match Sponsorship

Financial commitment letter: The letter of financial commitment from the financial sponsor should be submitted with the student’s application and include the following:
1. Pledge of financial support: for the Stipend + Professional Development category this is $32,500/year for each of three years, paid by July 15 of each year; for the Professional Development category this is $5,000 year for each of three years, paid by July 15 of each year.
2. Pledge to mentor the Fellow: industry (or analogous) sponsors commit to having one (or more) representatives from the industry or other entity serve as a mentor to the student, working with the student on their annual professional development plan and being available for student questions. Students with university sponsors will be matched with an industry (or analogous) mentor.

Role of mentors: Each FFAR Fellow has a mentorship team of three individuals. One of these is the student’s university advisor and the second is a representative from the student’s industry (or analogous) sponsor. If students have sponsorship from their university, an industry mentor will be identified to be a member of their mentorship team.  The third mentor can be another person from the same or another university (preferably in a field not already represented by the student’s dissertation committee), another industry member, or someone from the governmental or non-profit sectors. Members of the student’s mentorship team will consult (in person or virtually) with the Fellow in the fall and early summer to guide students in creating and revising their annual Professional Development Plans. Mentors are also asked to be available to answer student questions regarding their professional development.

Benefits of being a university/departmental sponsor: Investing in a FFAR Fellow is an investment in the university’s graduate program. Members of the first two cohorts of FFAR fellows regularly update and present on professional development topics to their lab groups and graduate student organizations. Among other topics, students have relayed information on constructing annual Professional Development Plans, peer mentoring, and presentation/communication skills.

Benefits of being an industry sponsor:  Industry and other entities (e.g., commodity organizations, state departments of agriculture, foundations) sponsoring Fellows will gain several benefits. For Stipend fellows, the sponsor can fund research beneficial to its own interests and have that investment matched equally by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture. The FFAR Fellows program thus leverages industry investment.  At the same time, sponsors will be able to build stronger ties with universities and scientific research programs with which they would like to work on an ongoing basis. Sponsorship allows the entity to express to its stakeholders its commitment to supporting student development. Lastly, a number of sponsors see in their Fellow a future member of their organization, who is being trained not only in valuable technical and scientific skills, but also in the non-cognitive “soft skills” such as team work, flexibility, and communication that are key to successful and productive careers.s.

Application Portal and Timeline

The portal for receipt of applications is scheduled to open by December 1, 2020. Complete applications must be received by February 22 for the Stipend + Professional Development category, and by April 15 for the Professional Development category. Fellows will be notified by March 1 for the Stipend + Professional Development category, and by May 1 for the Professional Development category.

To be considered for the fellowship, students must submit all application materials by the due dates, including the confirmation of financial commitment from a university, industry, or analogous sponsor.

For additional information, contact the FFAR Fellows Program Director, Dr. Rebecca Dunning.