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Tuskegee University sophomore Alexandria Brown, who is majoring in animal science, was one of 30 students nationally who were recently selected as a U.S. Department of Agriculture Wallace-Carver Fellow.
The Wallace-Carver Fellowship seeks to inspire and train the next generation of agricultural leaders and scholars for the 21st century. The USDA and the World Food Prize Foundation partnered to create the fellowship in 2011 –– thereby offering exceptional college students the opportunity to collaborate with world-renowned scientists and policymakers through paid fellowships at leading USDA research centers and offices across the nation.
The fellowship has special meaning for Tuskegee, as renowned university scientist and inventor George Washing Carver is its namesake, along with American agriculture leader Henry A. Wallace.
Brown became interested in the fellowship program after attending the AgDiscovery program at Tuskegee University — one of the many programs offered through the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences that allows students to learn about careers in animal science, veterinary medicine, agribusiness and plant pathology.
“During the AgDiscovery program, I met The World Food Prize National Education program director, Keegan Kautzky, who suggested I apply to the USDA Wallace-Carver Fellowship based on my interest in agricultural and animal science,” she recalled.
After going through a highly competitive and tedious selection process, which included a security clearance, Brown was selected for a fellowship placement in Logan, Utah, at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Forage and Range Research Unit.
Brown participated in a high-level, two-month-long research program, during which she focused on agricultural and economic policy; the management of food, nutrition and rural development programs; and groundbreaking field and laboratory-based research.
“At the research unit in Utah, I spent 40 hours a week testing four different types of Bermuda grass — Northshore, Transcontinental, Chile Verde and Gold Glove — to determine which types of these grasses grew better in drier climates,” she noted.
“I enjoyed working hands-on and learning about different types of plants and how to better sustain them, since it’s normally drier in that part of the country,” she explained. “The Logan area, on average, receives about 12 inches of rain every year, and I was successful in identifying which type of salt-tolerant or drought-tolerant grass could go a year without being watered.”
Brown says she will present her research final findings on the Bermuda grass in October, during the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, held in Des Moines, Iowa.
“This fellowship experience allowed me to get a feel for the type of research I will be working on in my professional career,” she emphasized. “I also had time to hone in on my interests and skill set to define what I ultimately want to do after I graduate.”
Brown added that the experience opened her eyes to the amount of vital research that is needed to make new innovations.
At the conclusion of her summer fellowship, Brown participated in a week-long series of high-level briefings, tours, group activities, and dinner discussions with key government officials and American thought leaders around Washington, D.C.
“Overall, I enjoyed learning about the types of research I can focus on, and from this experience I found out that I have an interest in pathology,” she said. “I also had the chance to make some really great connections, which has inspired me to continue my pursuit in this field.”
Since the creation of the Wallace-Carver Fellowship, 210 students from 93 universities and colleges in 36 states and the District of Columbia have been employed by the program. More than 97 percent of fellows have pursued degrees in related disciplines, and 88 percent remain employed in critical fields relevant to science, agriculture and nutrition.
For more information about the fellowship, visit
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