New competitive grant opportunities are now being made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The grants are being offered in an effort to help provide support for researchers who are beginning their careers. Eligible applicants will be able to apply for a seed grant, or a New Investigator standard grant through the USDA-NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
“It’s difficult for new investigators to find success with that first award,” USDA-NIFA Acting Director Parag Chitnis said in a press release. “When submitting to the New Investigators seed grant opportunity, beginning scientists will only compete against other beginning scientists, carving out space for early success.”
In order to be eligible for the new competitive grant opportunities, an applicant will need to be in the early stages of their career with fewer than five years of career-track experience. A qualified applicant, which meets the criteria as a New Investigator, also cannot have an extensive scientific publication record. Beginning in the fiscal year 2021, there will be two types of New Investigator Grants available.
The New Investigator Standard Grant is similar to an AFRI Standard Grant, except that the Project Director must meet the eligibility criteria for New Investigators. The New Investigator Seed Grant will be available under each program area priority within NIFA. Seed Grants are limited to a total of $300,000 for up to two years and are intended for projects that will result in continued research in one of the prioritized areas for AFRI funding.
The new competitive grant opportunities are part of a larger effort to help attract and retain promising new scientists to agricultural research. AFRI will also continue to make Strengthening Grants available to researchers from small and mid-sized or minority-serving educational institutions. USDA-NIFA leaders are hopeful that the funding opportunities and continued investment will provide encouragement to the scientific community as it struggles with research and education challenges related to coronavirus disruptions.