Short-Term Nondegree Training and Long-Term Degree Training
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research is engaged in two broad areas of training, responding to a wide range of needs and looking for cost-effective solutions. There are two broad categories of training:
- Short term nondegree training; and
- Formal degree training at US and foreign institutions. All training is designed to respond to identified host country institutional needs.
Short-term Nondegree training, internships, and thematic workshops
Nondegree and short-term training are considered vitally important for attaining Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab institutional capacity-building goals, including training through organized workshops, group training, short-term individualized training at Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab participating institutions, and participation in networking activities with peers working on grain legumes in their region or internationally. Training activities typically last only a few days (e.g., as workshops) or involve a highly structured learning experience extending from a few weeks to several months or a year with individualized instruction in a lab or field setting. Like degree training, all nondegree training is integrated with research activities and is incorporated into the annual research work plans of each project. Short-term training may also include internships of researchers or students with private or public sector institutions. Some training may be conducted virtually, while others may require interpersonal engagement and practical skills and be held in the US, host countries, and third countries, depending on cost and other factors critical to success.
Long-term Degree Training
Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research degree training is closely linked to research activities and aligned with Innovation Lab project research and outreach objectives. Integrating graduate students into research and outreach activities makes their dissertation research questions relevant and applicable to their host country situation(s), while also contributing to the technical quality of Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab research activities. Graduate students’ research contributes to the development of technologies and enhances understanding of the socioeconomic, agronomic, environmental, political, and cultural realities in host countries. To address the dearth in women scientists, researchers with the Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab seek to identify qualified women for degree training programs.
By design, nearly all graduate students are under the guidance and supervision of Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab PIs. Depending on the university, a Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab PI serves as the major professor, a member of the guidance and thesis research committees, or, in a few cases, an external expert contributing to thesis development. When a trainee is pursuing an advanced degree at a university in the host country, the host country PI will typically serve as the major professor, making the research and teaching activities of Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab trainees an integral part of the annual work plans of each project, helping advance science in the field of interest.
Key components of degree training in the Innovation Lab:
- Formal degree training based on locally identified needs and trainees
- Degree programs within overall Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research strategic objectives
- Building long-term partnerships through mentoring and research collaboration
- Host country researchers gain access and familiarity with a broad range of international research during degree programs and Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab research meetings
- The interdisciplinary approach of overall Innovation Lab programs links professionals across the sciences while ensuring the disciplinary quality of research
- Degree training designed to facilitate re-integration into host country institutions
Long-term degree training is not without challenges. Language skills are often a stumbling block for Lusophone and Francophone candidates to U.S. universities. In some cases, host country universities do not have as rigorous a training program in statistics or other fields as the U.S. and other universities, such that students need additional studies to bring them to the skill level needed for entry into U.S. programs. The Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab works to address these challenges through universities outside the United States, such as the University of Pretoria in South Africa and the Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil, and by extending degree programs to include additional course work in English and other basic areas. In a few cases, the pool of candidates is limited due to lack of candidates with B.S. or B.A. degrees in the required field; Legume Systems Research Innovation Lab projects may provide some B.S. and B.A. thesis assistance for such students in their respective host country.
Some students may be only partially supported in their degree programs when other funding is available. Especially in the host country or regional universities, students may have research assistantships and conduct their research in the host countries in collaboration with HC PIs. Innovation Lab funds can be used to conduct research activities outlined in the work plans. Foreign students coming to the US under the Innovation Lab funding, whether full or partial funding, are identified by their institutions and then vetted by the USAID Mission in their country. Their training adheres to the guidelines of the US government administrative guidance found under ADS 252 and ADS 253.