The Purpose of the USDA HSI Research Grant is to:

  1. Attract and support undergraduate (UG) and graduate (GS) students from underrepresented groups in order to prepare them for careers related to the food, agricultural, and natural resources and human sciences of the United States.
  2. Enhance the quality of post-secondary instruction within these disciplines. Our programs will provide opportunities for the scholars by enhancing and enriching their post-secondary experience through research, networking, internships, professional skills development, and supplemental instruction.
  3. Provide opportunities and access to food, agricultural, natural resources and human sciences careers in the public and private sector.
  4. Align the efforts of HSIs and other non-profit organizations in support of the academic development and career attainment of URM groups. Our partnerships with two regional HSIs, California State University Stanislaus (CSUS) and UC Santa Cruz (UCSC), along with the USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) and the agriculture company, Paramount Farms, will all support our efforts to enhance the development and careers of URMs. Furthermore, through the involvement of UC Merced’s UC Cooperative Extension specialist in nutrition, Dr. Karina Diaz-Rios, with a documented history of outreach experience, we can extend opportunities for outreach and broader impact to our scholars.

The project will provide UG students from three HSIs (CSUS, UCM, and UCSC) with the research and technical skills needed to engage in meaningful research projects, and then placement into faculty-mentored research projects at CSUS, UCM, or UCSC during the academic year that address one of the four priority areas mentioned. Our overall goal is to increase the numbers and diversity of students successfully continuing their research careers by pursing graduate education. A part of this program will allow students to attend a national conference, such as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) to present their research findings. SACNAS is a large, multi-disciplinary conference targeting primarily UG that is annually sponsored by the USDA. Attending a national conference is especially important to the scholar’s experiential learning process as it provides opportunities to participate in numerous professional/career skills development workshops and to network with peers and potential colleagues to advance educational and professional opportunities.

We will also provide UG and GS scholars opportunities to attend a10 national conference. This program element provides six critical skills to enrich their professional development: (1) practice writing an abstract, (2) communicate research to peers, (3) experience the environment of a national conference, (4) exposure to emerging and cutting-edge research, (5) network with peers, faculty, and recruiters from other institutions, and (6) an opportunity to meet and discuss career opportunities with USDA representatives at the meeting.

This work is supported by The Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program [grant no. 2017-38422-27227/project accession no. 1013657] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.