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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update – June 6, 2013

NIFA Update — June 6, 2013

NIFA Update, from the Office of the Director, is a biweekly newsletter for research, education, and Extension partners at land-grant universities and other cooperating institutions.



  • DOCE Gets Division Director
  • Communications Staff Director Position Available
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • USDA and EPA Launch U.S. Food Waste Challenge
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights June Homeownership Month 
  • HHS/USDA Announce the Appointment of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Unveils Vision for U.S. Organic Agriculture 



  • Cooperative Extension Centennial Celebration Focuses on Next 100 Years
  • North Carolina A&T Appoints New Research Director/Extension Administrator


Awards and Recognition

  • Prakash Receives Outstanding Scientists Award
  • Styles Receives Young Scientist Award


  • Next issue of NIFA Update is June 19, 2013

DOCE Gets Division Director

NIFA’s Institute of Youth, Family, and Community announced the appointment of Dr. Sivapathasunderam (Suresh) Sureshwaran as the Director of the Division of Community and Education.

Suresh joined the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service in 2001 after serving on the faculty of Clemson University and South Carolina State University for about 11 years. He served as an educational program specialist and provided leadership to the National Needs Graduate Fellowships Multicultural Scholars Program and was actively engaged with the Minority-Serving Institutions’ programs, grantsmanship workshops, Survey of Earned Doctorate, and related programs. He continued providing exceptional leadership as a national program leader to the Small Business Innovation Research grants program as well as the multidisciplinary Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program for small and mid-sized farms. Suresh provided pioneering leadership for several AFRI competitive programs in social sciences and helped launch the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). His BFRDP team received the Secretary’s Honor Award in 2012. He recently completed an Interagency Rotation through the President’s Management Council. He received his Ph.D. in applied economics from Clemson in 1989; his M.S. in developmental economics from University of East Anglia, England in 1980; and a diploma in economic development in 1979 from London, England. Suresh is located in the Waterfront Centre in Room 4448 and can be reached at 202-720-2324.

Communications Staff Director Position Available

This position is located at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Office of the Director, Communication Staff and is classified as a Supervisory Public Affairs Specialist, GS-1035-15. Closing date is:  June 27, 2013.

The Director of the Communications Staff serves as a top advisor to the NIFA Director and manages the public affairs program with responsibility for planning, designing, and executing a program to inform and educate the public, news media, and specialized audiences about NIFA programs and outcomes. You must be a U.S. citizen to apply for the position and suitable for federal employment, determined by a background investigation

As the head of the Communications Staff, you will be NIFA's lead public affairs expert. You will establish priorities, manage the budget, and allocate resources for NIFA publications and services. You will also recommend various communication strategies to increase the effectiveness of NIFA communication programs and serve as the NIFA liaison to the Department of Agriculture's Office of Communications, as well as working closely with the communications officers at the land-grant universities and communications officers of other federal and private science organizations. You will develop materials and resources to be used for public presentations as well as serve as a spokesperson for the agency, presenting NIFA's position on controversial issues and explaining program developments and announcing upcoming events. Additionally, you will provide administrative and technical supervision to the Communications Staff. To learn more about NIFA visit the website

Vacancy Announcement Number:  NIFA-S13N-0015 is open to any U.S. citizen. This link will take you directly to the vacancy announcement where you may view and/or apply for this position.

Vacancy Announcement Number:  NIFA-M13N-0016 is open to status candidates and non-competitive eligibles. This link will take you directly to the vacancy announcement where you may view and/or apply for this position. Contact Vivian Brooks-Marshall, supervisory human resources specialist, for additional information.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Farm Business Management and Benchmarking (FBMB) Competitive Grants Program

June 7, 2013

Susan Shockey

Supplemental and Alternative Crops

June 14, 2103

Pushpa Kathir

Special Research Grants Program Potato Breeding Research

June 25, 2013

Ann Marie Thro

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program - National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP)

July 10, 2013

James P. Dobrowolski

Expert Integrated Pest Management Decision Support System

July 16, 2013

Herbert Bolton

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Food Security

July 17, 2013

Robbin Shoemaker

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Carbon Cycle Science

July 31, 2013

Nancy Cavallaro

Multi-partner Call on Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research

September 3, 2013

Nancy Cavallaro

Water Sustainability and Climate

September 10, 2013

Mary Ann Rozum


NIFA advertises all of its funding opportunities through “Find Grant Opportunities” on the website. This site is searchable and contains summary information on all federal funding opportunities with links to the full announcements. Users can search announcements by topic, funding agency, and date, as well as subscribe to an email notification service based on these parameters.


USDA and EPA Launch U.S. Food Waste Challenge

WASHINGTON, June 4 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on others across the food chain—including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies—to join the effort to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste.

Food waste in the United States is estimated at roughly between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people's stomachs. The amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at almost $390 per U.S. consumer in 2008, more than an average month's worth of food expenditures. The goal of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge is to lead a fundamental shift in how we think about and manage food and food waste in this country. The challenge includes a goal to have 400 partner organizations by 2015 and 1,000 by 2020. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights June Homeownership Month 

WASHINGTON, May 31 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off National Homeownership Month by highlighting programs to help rural residents buy, refinance, and repair homes. USDA has helped rural residents purchase homes since 1949. Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA Direct and Guaranteed home loan programs have helped more than 650,000 rural residents buy houses. USDA often works with partners. For example, last year USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity collaborated to help a formerly homeless single mother in Kentucky take steps toward becoming a first-time homeowner.

USDA is providing additional support for rural housing through a pilot program enabling USDA borrowers to refinance their home loans at today's low interest rates. Introduced in 2012 and expanded this year, the pilot is being tested in 34 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It has already enabled more than 5,500 USDA-backed homeowners to refinance $750 million in mortgages. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

HHS/USDA Announce the Appointment of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

WASHINGTON, May 31 – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the appointment of 15 nationally recognized experts to serve on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee's recommendations and rationale will serve as a basis for the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The dietary guidelines serve as the foundation for national nutrition programs, standards, and education. In addition, the guidelines provide key recommendations for the general population as well as specific population groups to help people choose an overall healthy diet that works for them. Every 5 years, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated and published jointly by HHS and USDA. The administrative responsibility for leading the process alternates between departments. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at HHS is the administrative lead for 2015. The inaugural meeting of the committee is for June 13-14, and will be open to the public. For additional information, including meeting details, press releases, and fact sheets, please visit Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Unveils Vision for U.S. Organic Agriculture 

WASHINGTON, May 14 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed his vision for U.S. organic agriculture and USDA efforts to ensure its continued success during remarks to the Organic Trade Association. Vilsack announced a number of changes and new initiatives to support the continued growth of organic agriculture—including that USDA's Risk Management Agency's (RMA) federal crop insurance program will increase coverage options for organic producers this year and provide even more options in 2014, including a contract price addendum as well as new premium price elections for organic crops. Additionally, RMA will remove the current 5-percent organic rate surcharge on all future crop insurance policies beginning in 2014.

Vilsack also said USDA will provide new guidance and direction on organic production to all USDA agencies in support of organic agriculture and markets. USDA now asks each agency to routinely address the needs of the organic sector in their programs and services where appropriate. The National Organic Program has supported the continued growth of America's organic sector, which has increased market share each year and now is a more than $30 billion industry. Vilsack noted that accurate data is the biggest obstacle for developing better crop insurance options for organic farmers and expressed his desire that Congress help USDA make further progress by renewing the 2008 Organic Data Initiative as part of a new Food, Farms and Jobs bill. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.


Cooperative Extension Centennial Celebration Focuses on Next 100 Years

The 100-year signing anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, which officially created the national Cooperative Extension System, will take place in 2014. The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy has established a centennial committee to coordinate and support activities nationwide. The primary focus will be on contemporary efforts and launching Cooperative Extension for the next 100 years of educational programming that transforms and changes behavior of individuals, families, youth, farmers, communities, and business. State and local activities will complement national efforts. At the national level, efforts in the beginning stages of planning include efforts held in association with meetings of the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET) annual meeting and the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) Conference. Additionally, convocation and national level awareness programs will be held in Washington, DC, with NIFA, Cooperative Extension’s federal partner—during the timeframe of the anniversary, centering on the week of May 5-9, 2014. The centennial date is May 8, 2014. Additionally, the centennial will be honored in a series of articles in the Journal of Extension throughout the year. Check the Cooperative Extension—Celebrating 100 Years website as it is a work in progress. The centennial logo, branding information, Facebook graphic, PowerPoint backgrounds, etc., are available in the Smith-Lever Extension Centennial Celebration Toolkit. More information will be added throughout this year and 2014. So check the website often!

North Carolina A&T Appoints New Research Director/Extension Administrator

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University announced the appointment of Dr. William M. Randle as the research director and extension 1890 administrator, effective immediately. Randle received his B.S. in plant sciences from the University of Arizona; his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in horticulture from Michigan State University and University of Minnesota, respectively. His contact information is: North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, 1601 East Market Street, Webb Hall, Room 111, Greensboro, NC 27411, telephone: 226-334-7979, fax: 336-334-7580.

Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker will become associate research director and associate dean of agricultural research, and Dr. Marion R. McKinnie will become associate extension administrator and associate dean of Cooperative Extension.


Prakash Receives Outstanding Scientists Award

Dr. Channaptna S. Prakash of Tuskegee University is the recipient of the 2013 Morrison-Evans Outstanding Scientist Award, which was presented at the 17th Biennial Research Symposium of the Association of 1890 Research Directors (ARD). The Morrison-Evans Outstanding Scientist Award is the oldest and highest honor given to an 1890 scientist by the ARD and is accompanied by a cash stipend. Prakash’s research interests include studies on transgenic plants, gene expression, tissue culture, and plant genomics. Among his accomplishments, Prakash and his colleagues have deposited thousands of nucleotide data in the GenBank, developed hundreds of SSR markers, and constructed a very detailed and informative peanut genetic map. He is also pursuing genomic and DNA markers studies on Miscanthus and similar work also on date palm trees. He is well published and is an editor-in-chief of the journal of GM Crops and Food and co-edited a special issue on biosafety regulation. He is renowned internationally as an expert on societal understanding of ag biotechnology. 

Styles Receives Young Scientist Award

Dr. Erika Knight Styles from Fort Valley State University received the 2013 B. D. Mayberry Young Scientist Award and stipend. Styles focuses are on developing and understanding structural elements and consumer preferences for organic fruits and vegetables and nontraditional agricultural products. She is a young scientist making a broad and sustaining impact by mentoring students—many of these students, guided by the recipients’ scholarship and passion to help them be successful, have won competitions for their outstanding presentations at national conferences. 


The next NIFA issue is planned for June 19, 2013. Submit news items to: by June 12. If you have questions about Update, please contact the Editor: Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, NIFA Communications Staff.

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to Judy Rude. In the body of the message, type: subscribe nifa-update OR unsubscribe nifa-update. Back issues of NIFA Update are available on the NIFA website.

Sonny Ramaswamy, Director

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call 800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Questions? Comments? Last Updated: 6/06/2013