Congratulations to the winners of the
2021 FFAR Fellows Lightning Talk Competition!

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Fellows, the FFAR Fellows, are 80 PhD students from 25 universities across the U.S. and Canada studying agronomy, food science, genomics, biosystems engineering, and a dozen other fields in agriculture and the life sciences.

What brings these graduate students together? The desire to work with others to address the grand challenges in food and agriculture while building the teamwork, leadership, and change-making skills needed to meet those challenges. The annual FFAR Fellows Lightning Talk Competition is a way for fellows to create and practice their science communication skills in a supportive peer-mentorship environment, and then share their talks with the public.

A committee of science professionals selected the first and second place winners in the competition. The People’s Choice Award was decided via an online vote by the public.

To learn more about the FFAR Fellows, funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and industry and other sponsors, and managed by the College of Agriculture and Life Science at NC State University, see: and follow us on social (see links at the top of the page).

First Place

Tied for Second Place


Exploring the Unknown: How to Expand the Genetic Toolboxes for Next-Gen Crops

By Lauren Whitt, 2020-2023 FFAR Fellow.

People’s Choice Award

Other finalists in the 2021 competition


Combating Glyphosate Resistance

By Maria Gannett, 2019-2022 FFAR Fellow.


Good Toxins Lead the Fight Against Insecticide Resistance

By Daniela Pezzini, 2020-2023 FFAR Fellow.


Recovering Crop Debt from Resistant Weeds

By Sarah Kezar, 2020-2023 FFAR Fellow.


Feeding Your Own Bacteria

By Annemarie Krug, 2019-2022 FFAR Fellow.


Plant Breeding for Gut Health

By Nate Korth, 2019-2022 FFAR Fellow.


Understanding the Balance of Milk Fat

By Sarah Bennett, 2020-2023 FFAR Fellow.


Life in the Uterus

By Felipe Alves Corrêa Carvalho da Silva, 2020-2024 FFAR Fellow.


Fighting Spinach Foes

By Alex Batson, 2019-2022 FFAR Fellow.