News Release

Initiative Awards $210,000 to Develop Next Generation of Minority Scientists

July 22, 2010

Asheville, NC — USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Director Jim Reaves today announced $210,000 in grants to students at five Southern universities to foster research and training opportunities for minority students and scientists in the field of natural resources.

"The Forest Service seeks to hire experts from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds so that its research division reflects the diversity of America," said Reaves. "These grants are just one example of how the Forest Service is working to help ensure minority researchers are among the nation’s next generation of scientists."

The Station awarded the grants through its "Partnership Enhancement Initiative," which increases opportunities for minorities in the natural resources field and expands the pool of candidates interested in federal employment with the Forest Service.

In May 2010, SRS requested project proposals that offered short research studies or training opportunities for students and/or faculty from under-represented institutions. SRS sent the request for proposals to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) institutions across the South. Proposals were to focus on developing one or more of the following:

  • a project to address priority natural resource issues in forests in the South;
  • a curriculum focused on training students for federal employment in natural resources;
  • a curriculum focused on training students to be scientists or technicians; or
  • coordinated research with one of the Station’s 16 research units.

The Station reviewed all proposals and selected projects covering a broad range of disciplines and approaches in making the following awards:

  • Gwendolyn Boyd, Ph.D., at Alcorn State University is receiving $47,000 to transfer agroforestry technologies to Southern farmers and woodland owners with limited resources so they can create income opportunities, markets and protect the environment.

  • Dawn Lemke, Ph.D., at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University is receiving $25,000 to assess the potential range and densities of invasive plants that pose the highest threat in the South and develop tools that may be applied to future invasive species.

  • Ruby Broadway, Ph.D., at Dillard University is receiving $50,000 to incorporate a natural resource curriculum into the existing Saturday Science Academy (SSA) program at Dillard University. SSA is a model outreach program designed to improve minority student access to careers in science and engineering.

  • Ellen Green, Ph.D., at Delta State University is receiving nearly $40,000 to create a laboratory experience where students will learn the basic techniques and genomic concepts necessary for understanding the conversion of wood to biofuels.

  • Kipkoriony Rutto, Ph.D., and Shuxin Ren, Ph.D., at Virginia State University are receiving more than $48,000 to evaluate soil properties and fungal diversity associated with ramps and black cohosh in different locations in the Appalachian region. The research will expand understanding of how to sustainably manage and use these non-traditional forest products.


  Additional information on SRS can be found at


Headquartered in Asheville, NC, the Southern Research Station is comprised of more than 120 scientists who conduct natural resource research in 20 locations across 13 Southern states (Virginia to Texas). The Station’s mission is “…to create the science and technology needed to sustain and enhance southern forest ecosystems and the benefits they provide.” Learn more about the Southern Research Station at: