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USDA designates UMBC a Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture

Designation coincides with new aquaculture research funding

December 2, 2015 10:48 PM
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food Administration (NIFA) has formally awarded UMBC the designation of Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture (NLGCA).

The NLGCA expands funding opportunities for UMBC researchers by exempting UMBC from the fund-matching requirements of some grant programs. NLGCA designation can only be awarded to public universities that offer baccalaureate degrees or higher in agricultural studies, and currently applies to around 70 institutions of higher education across the country. 

“This NLGCA designation specifically recognizes UMBC’s strength in aquaculture, a field that has been rapidly growing as a key sector of today’s agriculture,” said Karl Steiner, vice president for research. “It positions our faculty and our institution in a stronger competitive position on the national level.”

Just 20 days after UMBC was awarded the NLGCA designation, researchers Ten-Tsao Wong and Yonathan Zohar, both of UMBC’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) received full funding for “Developing an inducible sterilization technology to bio-contain transgenically engineered tilapia.” 

Prior to receiving the designation, principal investigator (PI) Wong, research assistant professor of marine biotechnology, and co-PI Zohar, professor and chair of marine biotechnology, submitted a research proposal to the USDA, but that grant carried a cost-sharing equivalent of 100 percent of the amount awarded by the USDA. This means the university would have had to contribute an amount equal to what USDA granted to the project in order to utilize the research funding. The NLGCA designation eliminated the matching requirement, making the research feasible and enabling important technological innovation. Mildred Homa, research administrator at IMET, was instrumental in determining that UMBC met the NLGCA requirements, and coordinated the paperwork for the application.

The NLGCA designation will permanently apply to UMBC, affecting grants that fall under the USDA NIFA. In a national landscape of limited research funding, this will open up new opportunities for UMBC researchers far into the future.

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