Agricultural Research Foundation celebrates anniversary with new grants

May 15, 2009

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Agricultural Research Foundation is celebrating its 75th anniversary by awarding grants totaling more than $500,000 to Oregon State University scientists.

"We wanted to do more than celebrate with an anniversary banquet," said Phil Walker, the foundation's newly elected president. "So we chose to create two special grants in addition to the start-up grants that have been the foundation's focus for 75 years."

The two special grants selected, each worth $100,000, will support research of native bee pollinators and the development of a bio-based herbicide.

Sujaya Rao, an OSU entomologist, heads the pollinator study, which seeks to enhance crop production in Oregon by augmenting and managing populations of native bumble bees.

Donald Armstrong, an OSU plant pathologist, heads a team of scientists examining a newly discovered herbicidal compound produced by soil bacteria that shows promise as a bio-control of grassy weeds.

The grants come at a critical time for agricultural research, as the recession puts a strain on funding.

"The Agricultural Research Foundation has always been very conservative with the money we hold in trust, and in 75 years we've never put their funding at risk or lost a dime from any research account," said Dorothy Beaton, the foundation's executive director.

The foundation, a private, non-profit corporation and an affiliate of OSU, is composed of representatives of Oregon's major agriculture industries. Walker, for example, is a Willamette Valley cherry and hazelnut producer. The foundation's vice president, Steve Erickson, is involved with blueberries.

"Agriculture improves through research," Erickson said. "The foundation helps connect research and industry through our competitive grant program. It is an important part of the foundation's ongoing partnership with the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences."

In addition to this year's two special anniversary grants, each year the Agricultural Research Foundation awards about 32 competitive grants of up to $12,500 each. These start-up grants help OSU scientists launch new research projects and build a track record to attract additional funding from other sources, Beaton said. These awards will be announced in July.

Author: Peg Herring
Source: Dorothy Beaton