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Bell Wins Prestigious USDA Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

March 12, 2018

Natasha Bell, a doctoral student in Biosystems Engineering, has been awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), a program within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Funding is made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI is America’s flagship competitive grants program that provides funding for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. AFRI’s Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative (ELI) seeks to boost the number of qualified graduates in the food, agriculture, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences through support for K-14 teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars. Pre-doctoral fellowships support doctoral candidates as they conduct dissertation research.  Approximately 50 such fellowships are awarded each year.  The award will cover Natasha’s salary, tuition and fees, research supplies, travel, and publication costs for up to two years.  More about AFRI may be found at: https://nifa.usda.gov/announcement/usda-invests-126-million-train-more-100-future-agricultural-science-professionals

Natasha’s research interests include the use of ecological-based methods to remediate agricultural runoff water.  She is investigating how agriculture negatively affects soil, water, and plant biogeochemical processes, and how these processes can be harnessed to mitigate human impacts on soil and water quality.  Natasha’s research advisors are Dr. Dan Hitchcock, who is stationed at the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, and Dr. Sarah White, an Associate Professor in the department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Natasha is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina. After earning a BS degree in Biosystems Engineering from Clemson University, she went on to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to earn an MS in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. She then worked for two years as a staff engineer at a civil and environmental engineering consulting firm in New York City before returning to Clemson to work on her PhD.