National Needs Fellowship Program

The Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture in the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut invites applications for a graduate Fellowship position in the area of Plant Production with specific expertise in various areas. Anticipated start date is August 23, 2022.


About this program:

The USDA Strategic Plan emphasized the importance of maximizing returns on investments through solid outcomes and impacts. Our innovative Master’s Level program teaches students to go beyond the acquisition and analysis of data, and to become managers of their research findings. In addition to the requirements of the traditional graduate program, the students will learn how to translate discoveries into innovations and to advance product commercialization; how extension implements strategies for acceptance of scientific discoveries, and how to accelerate changes in the public arena through policy.

This specialized training is designed to promote transformational changes in graduate education in agriculture. The NNF Program engages students in the following foundations: 1) the core course “Leadership Development in Extension Education”; 2) Communications and Program Evaluation courses; 3) the Colloquium Rotation, during which time Fellows will be mentored by each of the faculty participants throughout structured experiences in their own team-based research and extension projects; 4) the Capstone internship “Practicum in Leadership” during which time Fellows will interact with leaders in agriculture at national and international levels; 5) preparation of the thesis chapter that identifies vectors for knowledge transfer and communicates the Fellow’s research findings in ways that promote positive social, behavioral, economic, and environmental changes.


The objective of this graduate training is the successful direction of the six Fellows into agricultural leadership positions in Plant Production. This is a “value-added” program that introduces extension principles while maintaining a strong research focus in the following disciplinary fields.:

  • Crop improvement/Biotechnology (Gerald Berkowitz and Huan-Zhong Wang)
  • Water & nutrient management (Rosa Raudales and Haiying Tao)
  • Ecosystem health, including soil, plants and humans (Sydney Everhart, and Julia Kuzovkina)
  • Climate Adaptive Environmental Planning (Mariana Fragomeni)


For inquiries, please contact individual faculty based on your area of expertise:

Gerald Berkowitz: plant signal transduction; pathogen responses; cannabinoid biochemistry

Sydney Everhart: plant pathogen population dynamics

Mariana Fragomeni: climate adaptive environmental planning

Julia Kuzovkina: ecological restoration, bioenergy

Rosa Raudales: controlled environment agriculture, water quality, plant pathology

Haiying Tao: digital precision agriculture, soil fertility, soil health, nutrient management

Huan-Zhong Wang: bioenergy, vascular development, cover crop domestication


UConn: Founded in 1881, UConn is a Land Grant and Sea Grant institution and member of the Space Grant Consortium. It is the state’s flagship institution of higher education and includes a main campus in Storrs, CT, four regional campuses throughout the state, and 13 Schools and Colleges, including a Law School in Hartford, and Medical and Dental Schools at the UConn Health campus in Farmington. The University has approximately 10,000 faculty and staff and 32,000 students, including nearly 24,000 undergraduates and over 8,000 graduate and professional students. UConn is a Carnegie Foundation R1 (highest research activity) institution, among the top 25 public universities in the nation. Through research, teaching, service, and outreach, UConn embraces diversity and cultivates leadership, integrity, and engaged citizenship in its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. UConn promotes the health and well-being of citizens by enhancing the social, economic, cultural, and natural environments of the state and beyond. The University serves as a beacon of academic and research excellence as well as a center for innovation and social service to communities. UConn is a leader in many scholarly, research, and innovation areas. Today, the path forward includes exciting opportunities and notable challenges. Record numbers of undergraduate applications and support for student success have enabled the University to become extraordinarily selective.University of Connecticut’s main campus located in Storrs. Anticipated start date is August 23, 2022. Salary will be commensurate with experience.


The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.



• Students must meet UConn’s Graduate School and PSLA admission requirements .

• Be U.S. citizen or national.

• Have a strong interest in connecting science with societal impact.

To apply:

Send curriculum vitae, transcripts (unofficial are acceptable), and a 1000-word statement indicating why are you interested in applying to this program. Indicate that you are applying to the National Needs Foundation program and indicate your research area preference. Send complete application via email to Professor Julia Kuzovkina ( by February 25, 2023.

This programs in funded in part by USDA-NIFA National Needs Foundation.