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VSU agricultural researchers awarded more than $1 million in grants

Researchers at Virginia State University’s Agricultural Research Station (VSU-ARS) were recently awarded $1.4 million in capacity building grants (CBG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Dr. Chyer Kim, food scientist at VSU-ARS, was awarded $499,644 on a CBG entitled, “Preparing for the Future: Building Capacity for Food Safety Compliance at Farmers Markets.” Kim is principal investigator for the project. Dr. Theresa Nartea, marketing extension agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) at VSU is a collaborator on the grant along with scientists at Delaware State University (DSU) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).

Kim is also a collaborator on a CBG entitled, “Assessments of the Impact of Cryptic E. Coli on Current Water Quality Monitoring and Management,” valued at $435,028. The principal investigator of the project is Dr. Guolu Zheng at Lincoln University. A scientist from USDA ARS is also collaborating on the project.

Dr. Toktam Taghavi, Plant and Soil Scientist at VSU-ARS, is a collaborator on a CBG entitled, “Developing an Integrated Approach to Combat Gray Mold in Strawberries,” valued at $599,905. The principal investigator of the project is Dr. Kalpalatha Melmaiee at Delaware State. Scientists from USDA, ARS, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and Virginia Tech are also collaborating on the project.

Additionally, Dr. Rafat Siddiqui, Food Scientist at VSU-ARS, was awarded $65,000 from Abbott Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., to investigate the modulation of vascular function by nutrients.

VSU-ARS director Dr. Wondie Mersie said researchers are grateful for funding to support new and continued research. “These awards will strengthen the research capabilities of VSU’s Agricultural Research Station as we work and collaborate to find solutions to pressing agricultural issues, such as water quality, food safety, shelf life preservation and how nutrients improve vascular function, Mersie said.