Student Interest

NIFA announcement

Media contact: Sally Gifford, 202-720-2047

NIFA Invests $12.6 Million to Train More Than 100 Future Agricultural Science Professionals

WASHINGTON, D.C. September 1, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $12.6 million to support the training of 55 doctoral candidates and 52 postdoctoral scholars. Funding is made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Read the full announcement on the NIFA website. 

NIFA Announces $3.1 Million Available to Support Food and Agricultural National Needs Fellowship Grants Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. September 1, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $3.1 million in available funding to train the next generation of policymakers, researchers, and educators in the food and agricultural sciences. There is a significant shortfall between the number of jobs being created and availability of graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, or environmental specialtiesRead the full announcement on the NIFA website. 

This is a gentle reminder that Friday, September 29th is the abstract submission deadline for this year's Rural Studies Student Conference hosted by the Penn State Rural Sociology Graduate Association, October 27 & 28, 2017, at University Park, Pennsylvania. 

Our theme this year is (broadly): “Demystifying Rural."

Students interested in presenting are asked to submit a 250-300 word abstract of their work to by September 29thAbstracts may reflect thesis and dissertation work, as well as term papers or other research projects.  Works from all stages of the research process are welcomed and encouraged for submission.

This year registration is free, but required.

We would also like to announce this year's keynote speakers:

This is a great opportunity to receive feedback on research (at any stage of development and from any discipline or department) from your student peers. 

We look forward to seeing you at Penn State!


Department of Rural Sociology

Division of Applied Social Sciences

University of Missouri-Columbia

A graduate research assistantship in rural sociology and sustainable development (at either M.S. or Ph.D. level) will be available beginning in Spring 2018 within the Department of Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The student will be working with Dr. Hua Qin and contribute to an NSF-funded project on the dynamic human dimensions of forest insect disturbance in north-central Colorado, as well as other related research in population (migration) and the environment, vulnerability and adaptation to environmental/climate change, and applied social science methods and data practices.

The Department of Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri employs the theoretical and methodological tools of rural sociology to address key societal challenges of the 21st century, from preserving our natural resources and providing safe and nutritious food for an expanding population, to adapting to climate changes and maintaining sustainable rural livelihoods. The department contributes to domestic and international wellbeing through the training of new professionals, collaborative and interdisciplinary research, and participation in applied projects focused on sustainable and community-based development. Please see for further information about the department. 


Researching the Impact of Changing Farmland Tenure on the Canadian Prairies

Three funded MA positions!

University of Manitoba and University of Regina

We are seeking three highly motivated students who want to complete a Master’s and are interested in conducting research on the social andenvironmental impact of changes in farmland tenure on the prairies.

This research responds to urgent calls from farmers' organizations, politicians, and academics for more research on changing patterns of farmland ownership, concentration and land tenure in Canada. Having access to and control over farmland deeply affects farmers’ economic security and identity, influences patterns of rural development, and is critical for the viability of rural communities. Farmland tenure is increasingly important given that a whole generation of young people is seeking ways to gain access to land to be able to farm; it also determines what kind of agricultural production models are put in place.  The research addresses three key questions: How are investors changing the dynamics of farmland ownership? What is the impact of greater land concentration in the prairie region? And, what kinds of land policies are needed to build healthy, just, safe and sustainable food systems? These issues are at the heart of research on changing farmland tenure and food sovereignty in the Canadian prairies where 71.6% of Canada's total agricultural land is located.