Two University of Idaho students are among 23 students nationwide picked as recipients of the inaugural round of research grants awarded through a new program to honor humanitarian agriculturist Norman Borlaug.
The grants will enable UI doctorate students Sara Galbraith and Oscar Abelleira to conduct research in Costa Rica through the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Galbraith and Arbelleira were involved with projects that were chosen through a competition overseen by Purdue University's Center for Global Food Security. Idaho was among 17 universities with student winners and among only four others with more than one recipient.
The award honors the late Borlaug, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for leading the "green revolution." He worked internationally to give poor farmers access to disease-free wheat varieties and fight famine.
Galbraith will receive $40,000 to study land-use impacts on the diversity and abundance of bee populations. Arbelleira received $15,000 for his research on water transpiration rates in second-growth forests and teak plantations, and the effect of streamflows.
"We are extremely honored that two of our students were chosen for this prestigious award," says Nilsa Bosque-Perez, who directs the UI National Science Foundation-funded IGERT program.
The Borlaug program supports American students who are conducting research in an international setting that is related to food security. "The main objective of the program is to help develop the new generation of scientists who are going to help solve the problems of food security in the world," says Bosque-Perez.
Students must be linked to international research institutions. Galbraith and Arbelleira, along with their fellow IGERT students, are working with Costa Rica's Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, which has long-standing ties with UI.
"Our projects complement each other," explains Galbraith of his and Arbelleira's work. "We're both working in northwestern Costa Rica, and we're especially focused on some of the conservation strategies that have been implemented in the region, especially payments for ecosystem services."