Science Careers Blog

Donisha Adams

Unless you're into agricultural research, you may have missed a new U.S. Federal funding source for life sciences research. On 1 October 2009, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) took over the duties of the Cooperative, State, Research, Education and Extension Service, (CSREES). NIFA offers grant programs that support research in science related to food production, engineering, biotechnology, and more.

NIFA was established through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Its mission is to enhance knowledge in human health, agriculture, environmental science, and related disciplines within the land-grant university system and other public, private and non-profit organizations. Land-grant universities date back to the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890, and traditionally focus on agriculture, engineering, and science.

In an 8 October speech at the opening of NIFA, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that he wants the agency to operate differently than CSREES. "It is no exaggeration to say that NIFA will be a research 'start-up' company," Vilsack said. "We will be rebuilding our competitive grants program from the ground up to generate real results for the American people."  

Examples of the research Vilsack called for can be found in GrantsNet:

- NIFA's Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields program supports research and extension projects focused on topics such as (1)  safe and nutritious food supplies;  (2) support for 21st century rural communities; and (3) climate change. These institutional grants aim to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The deadline for the current competition is 7 June.

- The Critical Issues: Emerging and New Plant and Animal Diseases research program provides one-time seed funding for research on plant pests and diseases. Some $370,000 in funds will be available in fiscal year 2010. The project period will be up to 2 years. The deadline is 21 June.

For more information about these programs and other NIFA research opportunities, click on the GrantsNet links above or visit the NIFA Web site.

Attending a professional conference can boost the career prospects of science students and postdocs, but getting to these events can be expensive. GrantsNet recently added travel grants from NextBio and the Pasteur Foundation to help students and postdocs defray the cost of attending a scientific conference. NextBio's competition is limited to its student users while the Pasteur Foundation's grants will support student or postdoc attendees at one of its upcoming events.

NextBio, a software company in the life sciences, is holding a competition for Student Travel Grants that will help the winners attend the scientific conference of their choice. The grants are for student researchers currently enrolled in an M.S., M.D., or Ph.D. program and registered with Nextbio. Applicants must submit a one-page essay telling how NextBio has assisted them in their research and must include a link to the applicant's NextBio profile. First, second, and third-place winners will receive funding of $1000, $500, and $250 respectively. Grant applications must be submitted to NextBio by 30 March 2010. Recipients will be notified by 29 April 2010.

The Pasteur Foundation offers travel grants for American scientists who have already registered to attend the International Congress on Viruses of Microbes at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. Applicants must be Ph.D. students or postdoctoral researchers who will be presenting a poster or oral presentation at the meeting. Zuccaire Travel Grants-Viruses of Microbes offer funding up to $2000 to attend the conference, which will take place 21-25 June 2010. Send all necessary documents to and The application deadline is 1 April 2010.

The full announcements and application details for these programs can be found on the Nextbio and Pasteur Foundation Web sites.

03/12/2010: Please be advised that this grant opportunity is now closed.

Earlier this month, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 150,000 people in the capitol of Port-au-Prince and leaving many more injured and missing. Among those affected by the disaster are students from Haiti at American colleges and universities who are cut off from their families in Haiti and, in many cases, from the financial support the families provided.

To help these students, the Institute of International Education (IIE) has created Haiti-Emergency Assistance for Students (EAS) grants. These grants provide financial assistance to citizens of Haiti who are undergraduate and graduate students at accredited U.S. colleges and universities. Eligible students must have non-immigrant visa status, good academic standing, and a demonstrated financial need that was caused by the earthquake.

Students must be nominated by campus officials, including international student advisers. Each campus may nominate up to five students to receive $2000 grants for the spring semester. IIE has a downloadable nomination form on its Web site. A separate form must be completed for each student. Applications should be sent by e-mail to The deadline for nominations is 12 February 2010.

For an overview of this grant visit GrantsNet. For the full announcement please visit the IIE Web site.

IIE is also accepting financial donations to fund more grants through the EAS program. Please contact if you would like to contribute to the fund.