Borlaug Graduate Student Fellowships in Global Food Security: Experiences of ACES Awardees
September 28, 2016
  • /Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  • /Crop Sciences
  • /Office of International Programs

A panel presentation sponsored by the ACES Office of International Programs featured three recent recipients of Borlaug Global Food Security graduate research grants. The three panel members, all graduate students in the College of ACES, shared their experiences and advice for applying for these coveted fellowships.

The panel included: Liana Acevedo-Siaca (Crop Sciences); Anna Fairbairn (Agricultural and Consumer Economics); and Alex Park (Crop Sciences).

The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security graduate research grant program supports exceptional graduate students who are interested in developing a component of their graduate research in a developing country setting and in collaboration with a mentor from an International Agricultural Research Center (IARC), or a qualifying National Agricultural Research System (NARS) unit. The grants have a maximum value of $15,000 for students applying for 6-month long international research stays; $20,000 for 1-year long international research stays; and $40,000 for 2-year long international research stays. Currently this program is only open to U.S. citizens.

Visit the application website for more information on how to apply:

The three awardees offered valuable advice for applying for these fellowships:

  • Allow 2-4 months to prepare your application, and especially allow time to identify an onsite mentor. The annual deadline generally falls in mid-April. 
  • Do your homework to find ongoing Feed-the-Future projects in the country you have identified. Ideally align your proposed project to these existing projects.
  • Be strategic about your onsite mentor (required for application).
    • Use your contacts at Illinois to help identify onsite mentors.
    • Make sure your project aligns with the potential mentor’s existing work.
    • Look for a higher ranking mentor to help you work through bureaucracy. 
  • Strongly consider first applying for the Summer Food Security Institute: Many of the students who attend the institute end up being awarded graduate research grants. The application deadline for each summer is generally Feb. 1.
  • Speak with Purdue, who administers the program, early on in your application process if you have any questions. They are very transparent and helpful.
  • Know that you can break up your visits and research. For example, a one-year grant can be planned for two visits that are six months each.
  • Work out your budget early in the application process. Examples of items the Borlaug support is generally used for include:
    • Airline tickets
    • Research and residence permits
    • Health insurance
    • Travel for advisor
    • Lodging and accommodations
    • In-country travel expenses

In total, six ACES graduate students, including the three who participated in the panel, were named as 2015 U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security. Their projects were previously summarized here: