By John Lovett
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
- Application deadline extended to Jan. 31
- Program seeks to increase understanding of food supply safety, quality and security
- 10-week program offers research experience and leadership development
- $5,000 stipend, plus room and board, will be awarded to eight undergraduates
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Opening the realms of possibility in food science is a factor behind the new Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station’s new Future of Food: Opportunities and Careers for Undergraduate Students (F2OCUS) Fellowship Program.
Applications will be accepted until Jan. 31, 2023, for the paid, summer program open to undergraduates in degree programs that can be complementary to food science like physics, biology, chemistry, animal science, consumer sciences, psychology and agricultural studies like horticulture. The application deadline was previously Jan. 13.
Kristen Gibson, professor of food safety and microbiology and director of the Center for Food Safety, is the F2OCUS Fellowship Program director. The Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates program was created in 2022 with a $730,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to increase understanding of food supply safety, quality and security. The grant supports the program for five years.
“We are looking forward to having the second cohort of F2OCUS Fellows on campus in summer 2023,” Gibson said. “We are hoping to select from another great pool of applicants.
Along with Gibson, fellowship project directors include food science faculty members Jennifer Acuff, assistant professor of food microbiology and safety, and Jamie Baum, associate professor of nutrition. Jill Rucker, associate professor of agricultural education, communications and technology for the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas, is also a project director and fellowship mentor.
In addition to the four project directors, 10 collaborating mentors with extensive mentoring experience have been chosen to assist with the fellowship program. Industry partners, many of whom are University of Arkansas graduates and serve as adjunct faculty, will also participate in the fellowship program.
F2OCUS Fellow experiences include the ExCEL course at the 4H Vines Center in Little Rock, which features a high-ropes course and zipline. Gibson said there will also be numerous food industry visits in northwest Arkansas, such as the Tyson Discovery Center and Newly Weds Foods, as well as a visit to the annual Blackberry Field Day at the Agricultural Experiment Station’s Fruit Research Station near Clarksville.
Hands-on learning activities with professors as mentors are expected to result in the development of technical skills in research related to food science. Participants will take part in the creation of a novel food product with a team of F2OCUS Fellows and engage in externships with food industry and cooperative extension partners.
While scientific research is a significant part of the fellowship, there is also a heavy emphasis on team building, leadership development, and communications skills, Gibson said.
The Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates program was created in 2022 with a $730,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to increase understanding of food supply safety, quality, and security. The grant supports the program for five years.
The 2023 summer F2OCUS fellowship program runs for 10 weeks from May 30 through Aug. 4. Each student awarded a fellowship will receive a $5,000 stipend, in addition to room and board. Additional financial support for necessary travel is also possible.
Eight undergraduates who are not enrolled in a food science program will be chosen to spend the summer in Fayetteville, Gibson said. Fellows will work with faculty mentors on real research projects before showcasing their work at an end-of-program symposium.
For more information and to apply, please visit the F2OCUS Program website at https://future-food-reeu.uada.edu/.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.