ANFS Envision program offers undergrad research opportunities

UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources offers undergrad research opportunitiesThe University of Delaware’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS) will launch a three-year undergraduate research experience funded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) program known as Envision, which is focused on developing the next generation of agricultural scientists. Entitled “Undergraduate Research and Education Exploring One Health: Protecting our food supply, animal health, and the environment,” the project will look to address the disparity of underrepresented individuals of the population in agricultural sciences, specifically as this applies to the One Health initiative connecting safe food production to animal health and to stewardship of the environment. Partnering with the Lincoln and Delaware State Universities, both historically black colleges and universities, 10 undergraduates will work with project investigators for 10 weeks over the summer, from June through mid-August, to develop their own hypothesis-based research projects, document the process using video production training and present their work to both public and scientific audiences. In addition, UD Cooperative Extension will provide an Extension Scholar for the summer to aid in the implementation of the program. The summer includes training in video equipment, editing and storytelling, industry trips, laboratory and safety training, and participation in camaraderie-building activities. Mark Parcells, professor of avian molecular virology in ANFS and the lead project investigator, said, “The ANFS faculty has always had a very strong commitment to undergraduate research, and I was asked to help organize this program and grant proposal, but I am only one of 19 faculty and staff involved in this endeavor. This program involves researchers across many disciplines and provides a great opportunity for students to develop into scientists, not just work in a laboratory or in a field study. As a first-generation college student myself, I see where education can lead and the opportunities it can provide, and now, we as educators and researchers have a duty to provide these opportunities as broadly and inclusively as possible.” For those interested in learning more or registering for the program, visit the Envision website. Funding for Envision is part of a larger effort from the USDA that recently awarded more than $5 million in grants for fellowship opportunities for undergraduate students at colleges and universities. This ANFS program is being funded under grant award #2017-67032-26009 for $280,518. These awards are made through NIFA’s Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduate (REEU) Fellowships program, part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Education and Literacy Initiative. The REEU Fellowships program promotes research and extension experiential learning for undergraduates to help them enter the agriculture workforce with skills in food, agriculture, natural resources and the human sciences (FANH). Projects are designed to provide hands-on experience at land-grant and non-land-grant universities and USDA facilities, training to acquire laboratory research and extension skills, mentoring experiences and participation in extension projects or programs that deliver science-based knowledge and informal educational programs. This article can also be viewed on UDaily.