Apply to be a FFAR Fellow

Due dates in 2023:

  • February 22 for the Stipend + Professional Development Category
  • April 15 for the Professional Development Category

See below for information on the two categories of sponsorship (stipend and non-stipend). Students from any university in the U.S. or Canada are eligible to apply for both categories of the Fellowship.

Sponsorship is matched equally by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research and matching funds from industry, NGOs, commodity organizations, or other sources of non-federal funds. Match sponsorship from several of these sources can be combined to support a student. Match sponsorship for the three-year program is US$97,500 for Stipend + Professional Development Fellows and US$15,000 for Professional Development Fellows. All Fellows participate equally in the professional development meetings and activities. Applicants must have a committed match sponsor(s) to submit a full application and be eligible for consideration. For the Stipend + Professional Development category preference is given to applicants with industry, commodity organization, or foundation sponsorship.

Application Deadline: Midnight February 22, 2023

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.

Application Deadline: Midnight April 15, 2023

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.

Students can apply for one of six scholarships to participate as Fellows in the 2023-2026 program.

The BASF Data Science FFAR Fellow scholarship will be awarded to a qualified PhD student applying statistical analysis to the topic of plant breeding. Students should address their contribution to this research area in their Statements of Interest. The fellow will be mentored by one or more BASF data scientists as he or she participates in the fellows program. Students applying for the BASF Data Science scholarship are exempt from the requirement to have a financial sponsor, but should meet all other preconditions for application.

Five Rockey FFAR Fellow scholarships are sponsored by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’s Rockey FFAR Fellows Fund, which was created to honor the 2022 retirement of the Foundation’s inaugural Executive Director, Dr. Sally Rockey. Students applying for this scholarship are exempt from the requirement to have a financial sponsor, but should meet all other preconditions for application.

Students selected as Rockey FFAR Fellows will exhibit one or more of the following and address these in their Statements of Interest:

  1. Students in the behavioral social sciences (economics, sociology, psychology, political science, communications, public policy) whose research seeks to understand drivers behind the adoption of practices and technologies that promote agricultural sustainability and resilience. This includes applied studies as well as basic research.
  2. Students in the engineering and computer sciences whose research focuses on agricultural challenges using technologies such as computer visioning, machine learning, high through-put phenotyping, etc. This includes applied studies as well as basic research.
  3. Students in any food or agricultural field who could contribute diversity to the cohort. This includes diversity of thought and background, including but not exclusive to diversity of ethnicity, nationality, or heritage.

Application and Eligibility

  • Completion of a MS degree or one year of a PhD program by June 2023
  • Acceptance in a PHD program by May 1, 2023
  • Three years remaining in the degree program (Fall 2023 to Spring 2026)
  • A confirmed PhD faculty advisor
  • Confirmation of a financial sponsor (sponsors can include companies, foundations, NGOs, grower organizations; university departments can also sponsor students using non-federal funds). Sponsors provide funding for 50% of the costs of the fellowship, with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research providing 50%. Total sponsorship costs for the three-year program are US$97,500 for Stipend Fellows and US$15,000 for Non-Stipend Fellows. All fellows receive equal training as part of their cohort.
  • TOEFL Score indicating a minimum of 23/30 for listening, speaking, writing (exclusions for those with an undergraduate or master’s degree from programs with English as a language of instruction; or students from any country where English is an official language)
  • Residency or study visa
  • Availability to attend the orientation week at NC State in Raleigh August 6 – 12, 2023
  • Eagerness to participate in the FFAR Fellows and ability to spend the equivalent of a 1-hour course each semester on fellows training and activities
  • Statement of Interest in the FFAR Fellows Program (1500 words)
    • Applicants should provide the following in their Statement of Interest, written in non-technical prose:
      1. The connection between the applicant’s research area and one or more of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Challenge Areas.
      2. The connection between their research area and their own personal motivations to help solve these challenges.
      3. A description of how participation in a cohort of like-minded individuals will contribute to their individual development as scientists and leaders.
      4. An explanation of their interest in the two core features of the FFAR Fellows Program:
      • Development of professional skills including teamwork, communications, project management, etc.
      • Access to and mentorship by industry, government, and other non-academic professionals
    1. A description of the applicant’s career goals.
  • 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. Letters should speak to the candidate’s capacity and desire to engage in a cohort-based professional development program that complements their research activities. As mentioned earlier, fellows spend the equivalent of a 1-hour course each semester on fellows training and activities and should be not only willing, but eager for this engagement. Applicants are highly encouraged to supply a letter of recommendation from their sponsor.
  • 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 applicant’s research topic must address one or more of the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’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 food and agriculture.

Finalists may be invited to an online interview with members of the selection committee.

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 US$32,500/year for each of three years, paid by July 15 of each year; for the Professional Development category this is US$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.
  3. As noted above, scholarship applicants can replace this letter with a simple document noting the scholarship option for which they are applying.
  4. For applications to the Stipend + Professional Development category a preference will be given to those applicants who have industry, commodity organization, or foundation sponsorship.

Complete applications must be received by midnight February 22 for the Stipend + Professional Development category, and by midnight April 15 for the Professional Development category. Fellows will be notified by March 15 for the Stipend + Professional Development category, and by May 9 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.