Meeting the future food needs of a growing population requires preparing students for professional careers in agriculture. Today’s agricultural workers require workforce development training to implement the scientific practices and advanced technologies needed to remain competitive in today’s market.
Graduate interdisciplinary education
Issue: Graduate education in the sciences is often isolated and very discipline-oriented. Social, political, and environmental complexities and interactions require that future scientists work across disciplines to solve the complex problems facing agriculture.
Action taken: We have supported 63 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows (40 fully funded). We have taken an interdisciplinary approach to graduate education by facilitating graduate student retreats and providing professional development. These retreats encourage project-wide synergy and communication on cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary aspects of the project.
Results: Team-based, integrative training and professional development for REACCH graduate students increases the likelihood that they will continue to work in the broad field of agriculture. Of graduating PhD students, 33% obtained assistant professor positions at non-REACCH institutions; the other 66% are currently employed as post-doctoral researchers within their fields. Two post-doctoral researchers and one REACCH staff member are now assistant professors at non-REACCH institutions. Furthermore, results of an exit survey suggest that participating in REACCH research and professional development helped students gain employment.