Visiting Scholar and Fellow Programs in International Agriculture

David Picha, Karimiha, Susan L.  |  6/14/2018 6:21:46 PM

Susan L. Karimiha and David H. Picha

The LSU AgCenter is among the nation’s leading land-grant institutions in training and mentoring visiting scholars from around the globe. AgCenter faculty have incorporated international undergraduates, graduate students, professors, government officials and industry representatives in their research and extension activities across the state. The contributions of international scholars to Louisiana agriculture-related challenges have been significant, ranging from field research support to laboratory analyses.

Professional linkages established between AgCenter personnel and the visiting scholars have led to continued collaborative research and long-term institutional partnerships. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service has recognized the successful international training activities of the AgCenter through continued support and competitive grant award funding.

AgCenter faculty, staff, students and the university community have been enriched from the diversity of ideas, experiences and perspectives brought by visiting scholars. The visiting scholar programs have been beneficial in improving Louisiana agriculture.

Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program

Borlaug Fellows are university scientists or government researchers who conduct research and receive training for eight to 12 weeks under the guidance of an AgCenter faculty member. This mentor later visits the fellow’s home institution to continue the collaboration.

Approximately 38 Borlaug Fellows from 17 countries have participated at the AgCenter on a wide array of topics, including agricultural biotechnology, agronomy, horticulture, food safety, veterinary science and natural resource management. The countries represented by the Borlaug Fellows include Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Examples of projects include:

  • A Vietnamese scientist, Tran Thi Dinh, is developing value-added sweet potato products with her mentor, David Picha, professor in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences. Read more about her work.
  • An Ethiopian scientist, Mihiretu Cherinet, is identifying ways to improve storage of sweet potato roots and developing techniques that prevent roots from sprouting too early or too late with his mentor, Arthur Villordon, professor at the Sweet Potato Research Station in Chase, Louisiana. Read more about this project.
  • An economist from the Philippines, Rowell Dikitanan, is studying how climate-smart agriculture techniques affect income, crop yields and economic inequality. His mentors are Naveen Adusumilli and Michael Deliberto, both assistant professors in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. Read more about this project.

Cochran Fellowship Programs

Cochran Fellows are government or private sector individuals who receive training under the guidance of an AgCenter faculty member for about two weeks on a topic that will facilitate trade and increase U.S. agricultural product imports. Approximately 80 Cochran Fellows from 17 countries have participated in training programs on horticultural crop production and postharvest care, food safety, trade facilitation, dairy products and poultry production. The countries represented by the Cochran Fellows include Albania, Armenia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Senegal and Tanzania.

Scientific Cooperation Research Program (SCRP)

The SCRP scholars are university or public sector individuals who receive training on a topic that will overcome constraints in the production, postharvest care or marketing of agricultural products. Each scholar receives training for about three weeks in the U.S., followed by a visit from an AgCenter faculty mentor in the scholar’s country for several weeks. Two SCRP scholars from Kenya have participated in a training program focused postharvest care and marketing of horticultural products. Read more about this project.

Scientific Cooperation Exchange Program

This program is for Chinese scholars, who receive about two weeks of training on topics that include food safety and import protocols at U.S. ports. So far, 10 scholars from China have participated.

LSU AgCenter Visiting Scholar Programs

The LSU AgCenter offers visiting scholar training awards for students and alumni of Kasetsart University in Thailand, the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana (Zamorano) in Honduras, the National Agriculture University of Honduras, Mendel University in the Czech Republic, and Slovak University of Agriculture in Slovakia. Each scholar receives training for three months within an AgCenter department or at an AgCenter research station. Approximately 200 visiting scholars from 11 countries have participated in training programs focused on a range of agriculture-related topics. Some of these scholars are also accepted into LSU College of Agriculture graduate degree programs.

Susan L. Karimiha, formerly a coordinator with LSU AgCenter International Programs and lead principal investigator of USDA FAS capacity-building programs, is a doctoral candidate and research associate in the LSU School of Leadership and Human Resource Development. David H. Picha is a professor in the LSU AgCenter School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences.

This article appears in the spring 2018 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.

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