$1M grant to MSU targets jobs in ag, energy, food science

Jan 31, 2017

MSU lands $1 million NSF grant to educate students in fields including animal science, crop and soil sciences and other fields involving food production.

Job openings in the fields of energy, the environment and food are not being filled in the United States. A $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to Michigan State University aims to close the gap.

The National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics grant will pay for scholarships to educate students in fields including animal science, crop and soil sciences and other fields involving food production.

Agriculture and food production may not be the first lines of work we associate with a STEM education.

Eunice Foster, a crop physiologist at Michigan State University, explains the connection.

"We are able to feed ourselves and feed the rest of the world with less than 1% of the U.S. population because of the scientific advancements of the past--new hybrids that can produce higher yields, (combating) plant disease," says Foster. "We need all of these different scientific advances. And that is a part of agriculture."

The NSF STEM program targets low-income, high-achieving students. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is the ranking Democrat on the Senate agriculture committee. Stabenow says, "These are low-income students that may not have the opportunity to be able to go to MSU or may not be thinking about agriculture."

"We want to recruit students, we want them to persist and (stay) at MSU and to graduate and go on to rewarding careers that make a difference in this world," says MSU food scientist Lorraine Weatherspoon.