W.Va. State University Awarded $1.7 Million in Federal Grants

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
Oct. 24, 2013
W.Va. State University Awarded $1.7 Million in Federal Grants
Funds focus on sustainable agriculture, food security and STEM education
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) will receive grant funds totalling nearly $1.7 million from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for projects addressing food security, sustainable agriculture, youth development and online education.

WVSU’s awards total approximately $1.69 million. This is the second consecutive year the institution has been awarded the maximum amount of funds eligible.

“To receive this level of funding two years in a row speaks volumes about the talented research and teaching faculty at State,” said Dr. Orlando F. McMeans, vice president for Research and Public Service.

WVSU is one of 18 institutions eligible to compete in the program, exclusive to the nation’s 1890 land-grant universities. The monies fund four proposed research, teaching and extension projects, including a joint initiative with Alabama A&M University.

Three of the projects deal with improving food security in West Virginia through research and teaching. One project focuses on improved fruit quality and disease-resistant traits by studying gene mapping in watermelons. Another seeks to develop an “Introduction to Molecular Breeding” summer course to teach students current techniques in plant genomics.

To increase the prevalence of online learning opportunities in the food and agriculture fields, a third project will develop online learning modules and training programs for agricultural sciences. A fourth grant will launch a new 4-H extension program to teach pre-schoolers about agriculture, health and nutrition using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) techniques.

The full listing of grants awarded to WVSU is as follows.
  • Dr. Padma Nimmakayala - Summer Academy of Plant Breeding: A Platform to Develop Minority Workforce in Molecular Plant Breeding - $120,000
  • Dr. Umesh Reddy - Diversifying the Watermelon Cultivar Genetic Base Using Genomic Selection to Improve Nutraceutical Traits and Use Them as Parental Lines - $444,346
  • Dr. Mehdi Seyedmonir - Learning and Teaching Biological and Agricultural Science Online: Increasing Success through Comprehensive Training, Development and Research - $533,674
  • Dr. Ami Smith - 4-H Planters: Preschoolers Learning Agriculture, Nutrition, Technology, Engineering, Reading and Science - $598,556
Launched in 1990, the 1890 Institution Teaching and Research Capacity Building Grants Program strengthens the linkages among the 1890 institutions, other colleges and universities, USDA and private industry, while improving the quality of academic and research programs at the 1890 institutions. The program focuses on advancing cultural diversity in the scientific and professional workforce by attracting and educating more students from underrepresented groups. It is authorized by section 1417 (b)(4) of the National Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching Policy Act of 1977.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multigenerational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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