Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA, has fun with Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
When you think of agriculture do you think of science and engineering? You should! Farmers are some of our original scientists, tinkering with plant varieties and farming techniques to find ways to reliably grow food. At USDA, we still do that kind of research in a never-ending effort to find better ways to produce food, fuel, and fiber. We also do a lot of research you might not think of when you think about agriculture: from forensic genetic analysis to track down unwanted pests to figuring out how to turn spent grain from distilleries into biodegradable kitty litter.
On April 26-27, the 3rd Annual USA Science and Engineering Festival took over the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Over 325,000 people came out to celebrate discovery and innovation through over 3,000 hands-on activities and 150 performances and lectures. USDA pulled all of the stops to show our geeky side and hopefully convince a few young booth visitors to consider agriculture when they think about careers in science. Read more »
NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, right, and Edo Chalutz, executive director of the U.S.–Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on November 22. The MOU promotes, supports and expands the robust agricultural research and development on-going between the two countries. (Photo by Julia Lewis)
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
On November 22, the United States and Israel came one step closer to renewing agricultural research and development activities that could produce new knowledge and innovations beneficial to both countries and increase the economic bottom line for farmers and ranchers.
Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Edo Chalutz, executive director of the U.S.–Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD), signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote collaboration via NIFA among U.S. and Israeli scientists and engineers. BARD and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s intramural research agency, have cooperated on research together since BARD’s inception. Read more »
Last week’s cover of TIME magazine featured a story about the rapid rate of decline of honeybee populations across the globe. The article focuses on the question of the price we’ll pay if we don’t figure out what is killing the honeybee. A daunting thought when you think about the fact that one-third of all food and beverages are made possible through pollination and pollinators are valued at $15 billion annually.
This morning, Jim Jones from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), author Hannah Nordhaus and I joined TIME journalist Bryan Walsh on Twitter to discuss the topic and what is being done and what needs to be done. If you happened to miss the Twitter chat, you can follow what was said by searching #TIMEbees. Read more »
Today, I am on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. When I visit universities across the nation, I look forward to meeting with faculty and students to hear about the work they are doing. On this particular visit, I am excited to meet with a research team working on an issue important to all Americans: climate.
As most people are well aware, last year’s drought put tremendous stress on cattle across the nation, especially in the Southern Great Plains. Drought, along with other extreme weather events and climate patterns, threatens food production across the nation. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has provided grant funds to land-grant universities across our nation to develop approaches to mitigate or adapt to the impact of climate change on food production. Earlier this year, NIFA awarded more than $9 million in funding to Oklahoma State University (OSU) to address the vulnerabilities of beef cattle under stress from climate variations. OSU’s goal is to safeguard regional beef production against climate change while mitigating the environmental footprint of agriculture. Read more »
Today, I am in Athens, Georgia, visiting the University of Georgia (UGA) and meeting with university leaders, faculty, and students to learn about the great work being done here to advance agriculture and solve some of our most pressing challenges.
NIFA has a long history of investing in agricultural science, and for much of the research it takes years to see the payoff. I’d like to highlight two projects at the University of Georgia NIFA has funded that are seeing real outcomes today. Read more »
Tomorrow, Secretary Vilsack and I will participate in the Future of Food, Food Security for the 21st Century conference, which is sponsored by The Washington Post. I am pleased to see the topic of food security getting such attention, as I believe it’s one of the biggest challenges we face now and in the next 50 years. As director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), I believe NIFA has a crucial role to play in addressing these challenges.
We are facing a “9 billion challenge,” in that the global population is projected to hit 9 billion by the year 2050. This challenge presents what I call wicked problems that require us to find ways to feed, clothe, shelter all people, and meet their energy needs, without wreaking havoc on the environment. Read more »