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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update–November 1, 2013

NIFA Update — November 1, 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.



  • NIFA Selects New Communications Director
  • NIFA Welcomes President’s Management Council Participants
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • ARS Seeks Candidates for Administrator
  • Secretary Vilsack Highlights First-Ever Report on Expanding Agroforestry Practices
  • USDA Celebrates National Farm-to-School Month
  • USDA Announces Availability of Funding to Develop Advanced Biofuels Projects


  • UPR Appoints Acting Dean/Director for College of Ag Sciences


  • 4R Research Fund Requests Proposals
  • Position Posted for Western SARE Regional Director
  • Northeastern IPM Center's Partnership Grants


  • Next issue of NIFA Update is November 13, 2013


NIFA Selects Communications Director

Virginia Bueno became NIFA’s Director of Communications on October 21. Bueno joins us from her long tenure as the director of public affairs for the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command. She spent 10 years heading public affairs for this global organization that provides environmental, public works, construction, energy, and facilities planning to the Navy, Marine Corps, and other federal agencies. In addition, she served as the communication strategist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement after spending the early part of her civilian career in media relations for an insurance industry trade association. Bueno served our nation as a U.S. Marine.

Bueno has a master’s degree in public communication from American University, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Purdue University, and attained accreditation in public relations by the Public Relations Society of America. She has taught public affairs at the Department of Defense and George Washington University. Bueno is located at the Waterfront Centre in Room 1160, and can be reached on 202-720-2677.

NIFA Welcomes President’s Management Council Participants

Kirsten Heidelberg and John Seguin are on a 6-month detail with NIFA through the President’s Management Council Interagency Rotation Program. The President’s Management Council matches high-potential GS-13 to GS-15 employees with interagency rotational assignments that enable these emerging federal leaders to expand their management skills, broaden their organizational experience, and foster networks they can leverage in the future.

  • Heidelberg is from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Joint Program Management Office. She is a national program leader for human capital and workforce planning and will assist in writing NIFA’s Workforce Plan.
  • Seguin is a trial attorney from the U.S. Department of Transportation. He is the national program leader for learning and development and will assist with developing competencies for various NIFA positions.   


They are located at the Waterfront Centre in room 4412 and can be reached on 202-401-1839 and 202-720-3842, respectively.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases

November 20, 2013

Peter Johnson

Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction using Earth System Models (EaSM)

December 23, 2013

Nancy Cavallaro

National Robotics Initiative: The Realization of Co-Robots Acting in Direct Support of Individuals and Groups

January 21, 2014

Daniel Schmoldt

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: NIFA Fellowships Grant Program

February 20, 2014

Ray A. Ali


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.


ARS Seeking Candidates for Administrator

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is seeking candidates for the ARS Administrator position. Dr. Edward B. Knipling recently retired after serving as Administrator since 2004.  The incumbent is responsible for providing vision, guidance, direction, and national leadership to the agency's programs. The incumbent, in consultation with the Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics, establishes and implements policies, plans, and objectives of all ARS programs related to research, cooperative agreements, and technical transfer. The position provides national leadership in ARS in developing, coordinating, and integrating multidisciplinary programs with other federal and state agencies, higher education institutions, private industries, and international entities. Deadline to apply is December 2, 2013. Visit the website for more information.

Secretary Vilsack Highlights First-Ever Report on Expanding Agroforestry Practices

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the first-ever report on USDA's role advancing agroforestry. Agroforestry: USDA Reports to America details how agroforestry practices are helping farmers, ranchers, and woodland owners enhance agricultural productivity, protect the environment and increase profits.

Agroforestry is a management approach that intentionally combines agriculture and forestry to create more sustainable land-use systems. Over the past 5 years, USDA has assisted landowners financially and with technical guidance to establish roughly 336,000 acres of windbreaks, riparian forest buffers and alley cropping; about 2,000 acres of silvopasture; and about 500 acres of forest farming. Those acres represent less than 1 percent of the potentially suitable land for applying those practices, suggesting there is an opportunity to significantly expand the application of agroforestry in the United States. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Celebrates National Farm-to-School Month

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted important strides made in offering healthy, local food to millions of school children through USDA's Farm-to-School program, and emphasized the program's role in creating economic opportunity for America's farmers and ranchers. According to USDA's first-ever Farm-to-School Census, in school year 2011-2012, schools participating in farm to school activities purchased and served over $350 million in local food, with more than half of participating schools planning to purchase even more local foods in future school years.

Forty-three percent of public school districts across the country reported having an existing farm-to-school program in place, with another 13 percent of school districts surveyed committed to launching a farm-to-school program in the near future. Interest in local products spans the school meal tray, with fruits, vegetables and milk topping the list of local products currently offered in schools across the country. Census respondents indicate an interest in local plant-based proteins, grains and flour, and meat and poultry in the future. Census results can be accessed on the Farm-to-School website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Announces Availability of Funding to Develop Advanced Biofuels Projects

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $181 million to develop commercial-scale biorefineries or retrofit existing facilities with appropriate technology to develop advanced biofuels. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. The announcement is one part of the department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

The Biorefinery Assistance Program was created through the 2008 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA Rural Development. It provides loan guarantees to viable commercial-scale facilities to develop new and emerging technologies for advanced biofuels. Eligible entities include Indian tribes, state or local governments, corporations, farmer co-ops, agricultural producer associations, institutions of higher education, rural electric co-ops, public power entities or consortiums of any of the above. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.


UPR Appoints Acting Dean/Director for College of Ag Sciences

Dr. Gladys M. Gonzalez Martinez was appointed as acting dean and director of the College of Agricultural Sciences, at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Her contact information: College of Agricultural Science, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Campus, Dean and Director’s Office, P.O. Box 9000, Mayaguez, PR 00681-9000, phone: 787-832-4040 x-5983, fax: 787-265-5490.


4R Research Fund Requests Proposals

The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Research Fund released its initial RFP, soliciting both literature reviews and syntheses on nutrient stewardship within a national, regional, or cropping system context. The 4R Research Fund was established by the fertilizer industry to help determine sustainability indicators and environmental impact data. Proposals are being accepted for the following focus areas: Meta-Analyses on the Impacts of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (due December 15, 2013) and Research and Demonstrations on Impacts of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (due January 31, 2014). All details on submitting proposals can be found on the 4R Nutrient Stewardship website.

Position Posted for Western SARE Regional Director

Utah State University (USU) has posted a position announcement for the Regional Director for the Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. The position is advertised on the USU jobs website. This is a key position for this program that serves the Western United States including Alaska and other Pacific Islands.

Northeastern IPM Center's Partnership Grants

The Northeastern IPM Center's Partnership Grants Program RFA is open. Projects funded through the IPM Partnership Grants Program must further the mission of the Northeastern IPM Center, address or identify regional IPM stakeholder priorities, and benefit the region at large. Extension projects are encouraged. The current project types are: (1) IPM Working Groups, (2) IPM Issues, and (3) Regional IPM Communications. New IPM methods may be developed under this program, but funds for this purpose are limited. Applications are due by 5 p.m., December 5, 2013. Additional Information can be found on the center’s website.

The next NIFA issue is planned for November 13, 2013. Submit news items to: by November 6. 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: 11/01/2013