Markou awarded NIFA, USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative predoctoral fellowship

March 2, 2017 - George Markou, a fourth-year chemical engineering graduate student in Professor Casim Sarkar’s research group, has been selected to receive a predoctoral fellowship from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture as part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The AFRI is the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences, with grants awarded to combat childhood obesity, improve rural economies, increase food production, create new sources of energy, mitigate the impacts of climate variability, address water availability issues, ensure food safety and security, and train the next generation of agricultural workforce. Markou’s award, totaling $95,000, will support his research for the next two years.

The project will be carried out in collaboration with Professor Jane Glazebrook and Professor Fumiaki Katagiri in Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of Minnesota. Markou will conduct research aimed at rapidly improving plant immunity in the laboratory to create more durable crops, thus circumventing the current labor- and time-intensive methods for identifying new immune proteins in nature and then breeding them into agriculturally important plants.

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