The Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT Program
- PROGRAM DETAILS
- HOW TO APPLY
Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships (IGERTs) are National Science Foundation supported programs for graduate students. IGERTs provide doctoral students with the opportunity to work as members of interdisciplinary teams, learning the concepts, methods and vocabularies of other disciplines as they collaborate to solve some of the world’s most complex problems.
Cornell’s Food System and Poverty Reduction IGERT addresses the challenges faced by the 1.2 billion poorest people on the planet who live in rural areas in developing countries and depend on food systems for their livelihoods. Food systems are dynamic systems that are characterized by complex webs of connections, dynamic linkages and feedback loops among many spatially and temporally distinct sub-systems. Therefore, understanding how to manage them to reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and environmental degradation poses a complex challenge that necessarily involves people from multiple disciplines who are able to collaborate and communicate with one another effectively.
The Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT is a “disciplinary-plus” program. It provides competitively selected PhD students with a two year interdisciplinary Traineeship that augments their core disciplinary training during the early years of their doctoral program.
IGERT Trainees do not receive a degree in Food Systems and Poverty Reduction. They receive their degree in one of the 21 associated Graduate Field by fulfilling all of the Doctoral requirements in that Field. Trainees also complete supplementary academic and field training in Food Systems and Poverty Reduction. This training qualifies them for a minor in the Graduate Field of International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD).
Graduate Fields and the Special Committee
Cornell’s Graduate School is organized into Graduate Fields consisting of groups of faculty who share a common academic interest, regardless of their college or departmental affiliation. All Cornell doctoral students specialize in 1 major Graduate Field of study, with 2 minor subjects within that or other Graduate Fields. Each student is supervised by a Special Committee of three faculty advisors, one each for these Field/Subjects. This Special Committee, which is selected by the student, helps the student to develop their research and academic program and monitors their progress and achievements. The faculty member who represents the student’s major Field of study is considered the Chair of their Special Committee, while those who represent their minor fields are additional Special Committee members.
IGERT program faculty include a wide range of senior and junior faculty — from across the natural and social sciences — who are involved in food systems and/or poverty-related research. Program faculty members can either be requested to serve as members of an IGERT Trainee’s Special Committee or they can help prospective Trainees identify potential Special Committee members in the Graduate Fields they represent. We advise all students who are interested in applying for an IGERT Traineeship to first discuss their interest with one of our Program Faculty who represents their Graduate Field(s) of interest.
Professors Chris Barrett, Rebecca Nelson, Alice Pell, Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Alison Power are the program faculty who are the principal investigators (PIs) for the Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT. This group, together with Dr. Beth Medvecky, the IGERT’s Associate Director, is responsible for the overall management of the IGERT program.
Completing the IGERT curriculum qualifies each Trainee for a PhD minor in International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD) Graduate Field. IGERT Trainees will choose one of the IGERT PIs to represent the IARD minor on their Special Committee to facilitate continued mentoring and interaction with the IGERT student and faculty group beyond their 2 year Traineeship period.
Students receive IGERT funding early in their doctoral programs, usually during their first 2 years. They also are funded by the IGERT only for their two year Traineeship.
Funding includes a $30,000 stipend, fully paid fees and tuition, health insurance and $10,000 in research funding to spend the final half year of IGERT at one of the program’s research sites in East Africa (Ethiopia or Kenya). The Graduate Field that you enroll in will be responsible for putting together a package for at least an additional two years of financial support.
Funding is restricted to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been admitted into a doctoral program at Cornell.
How to Apply
Students apply for our Traineeships through their associated Graduate Field rather than directly to our program office. They do this either as a prospective student (one who is applying for admission to a doctoral program in an affiliated field) or as a continuing Cornell PhD student (one who is in the first year of a Cornell PhD program in one of the affiliated fields).
Our affiliated Graduate Fields may nominate either category of student for the Traineeship and our program faculty makes the final selection from the pool of nominees put forward by the Graduate Fields. We let the Fields know who we have selected in time for them to include the fellowship offer in their admission offer to prospective students.
Program faculty will select a cohort of 8-9 students to begin the program in each of the next two years (August 2011 and August 2012).
Prospective Student Application Procedures
A. Contact at least one IGERT faculty member from a participating Field to discuss your interest in the program (click here for faculty listing).
B. Submit the Graduate School’s online application (more information here) and all supporting materials required by the Graduate School and the Field to which you are applying. In the appropriate Financial Application Section of the Graduate School application, indicate that you are applying for the Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT Traineeship.
C. Submit an IGERT Application Notification Form (access here) to the IGERT office, indicating that you have completed and submitted a Graduate School application and are applying for a Food System and Poverty Reduction IGERT Traineeship. Indicate the specific PhD field to which you applied and include a 1 or 2 page statement of interest explaining how the Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT would contribute to your career aspirations. In addition, please also submit a cv/resume.
Application deadlines vary by Field (see adjacent box), as may the particular materials required for submission. You have to be accepted into a PhD Field at Cornell to be eligible for IGERT funding.
Continuing Cornell Students
Continuing PhD students should communicate their interest in the IGERT directly to the Director of Graduate Studies of their Graduate Field. They should do this by the prospective student's deadline for the Field (see adjacent box). Please also submit an IGERT Application Notification Form (access here) to the IGERT office, indicating that you are applying for a Food System and Poverty Reduction IGERT Traineeship through your Graduate Field. Indicate the specific PhD field to which you belong and include a 1 or 2 page statement of interest explaining how the Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT would contribute to your career aspirations. In addition, please also submit a cv/resume.
FSPR IGERT Associates
Food Security and Poverty Reduction (FSPR) IGERT Associates are enrolled Cornell PhD students who participate fully in our academic training program but do not have to be US citizens or permanent residents. They receive no stipend or any other direct financial benefit from the National Science Foundation. They must also formally apply and be accepted into the program and are expected to comply with the same FSPR academic policies as the Trainees, with one exception. Associates can have an IGERT program faculty member OR an IGERT PI serve on their dissertation committees. Associates who complete the training program are awarded a certificate of participation and recognition. Although the East African field experience is not a requirement for them, Associates are eligible to participate fully in this important part of the training. However, because the program is unable to offer them direct funding, they will need to write proposals to obtain outside funding. The Management Committee can help suggest possible funding sources.
Please contact Beth Medvecky at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about this option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to apply?
Under National Science Foundation rules, you must be a United States citizen or a Permanent Resident in order to be eligible for IGERT funding.
Where do I apply for a Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT Traineeship?
Students apply for IGERT funding directly to one of our affiliated Graduate Fields. They do this either as a Prospective Student applying for admission to the Field’s PhD program or as a Continuing student who is in the first or second year of the PhD program in that Field. Graduate Fields decide who to admit to their PhD program and who they will nominate for IGERT traineeship funding. In the Financial Application Section of the Graduate School Application, Prospective Students should indicate that they are applying for Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT Traineeship so that the Field will know that the Prospective Student wants to be considered for this funding. Continuing Students (i.e., in their first or second year of a Cornell PhD program) should submit the Continuing Student Application Form (download here) to their Field’s Director of Graduate Studies.
If students apply for IGERT funding directly to a Graduate Field, why are we required to submit forms to the Food Systems and Poverty Reduction Program Office?
Our Program Office wants to be able track students who are applying to our Program as a check that applicants do not fall through any administrative cracks or get lost in the admissions shuffle. All IGERT applicants — either Prospective or Continuing Students — should submit an Application Notification Form to our office, as well as a copy of their CV and a 1-2 page statement of interest. These forms can be downloaded from this web page.
How are the IGERT Trainees selected for funding?
Graduate Fields nominate eligible Ph.D. students for IGERT fundng by February 15 each year. These will be individuals who the Fields feel are their strongest and most competitive candidates for this funding, as well as individuals to whom they are prepared to commit at least an additional 2 years of their Field funding. The final selection of IGERT trainees will be made by the IGERT Program Management Committee, who consider candidates’ statement of interest, prior training, Field nomination and prospective cohort composition. The cohort will be made up of students whose academic potential, backgrounds and career aspirations appear most strongly aligned with our IGERT’s focus and goals.
Can I be part of this IGERT if I want to work with a Cornell faculty member who is not on the IGERT’s Program faculty?
Yes, you can. IGERT fellows are not restricted to working with Program Faculty members. However, we recommend that you speak with the member(s) of our Program Faculty who represent(s) your Graduate Field as they are likely to be the members of that Field who are most knowledgeable about the scope and goals of our program.
If I am selected for the Traineeship, does that mean that I can only do my dissertation research in Kenya or Ethiopia?
IGERT Trainees are not restricted to conducting their dissertation research in Kenya or Ethiopia. However, our program’s Field Research Experience is expected to be restricted to these two countries. This is because the purpose of the Field Research Experience is to give an IGERT cohort the opportunity to work on different aspects of a food system problem as members of a team. Thus, students who do conduct their dissertation research in Kenya or Ethiopia would have an advantage, since they would be able to use the Field Research Experience to collect data related to their dissertation research.
If I am an IGERT Trainee, must I use systems methods in my dissertation?
No, the purpose of the IGERT is to supplement your disciplinary Ph.D. training with a food systems perspective and a range of associated skills. The topic you choose for your dissertation and the methods and data you employ are up to you and your dissertation committee — which must include one of the five faculty on our IGERT Program Management Committee.
Suppose I am unable to go to Kenya or Ethiopia for the Field Research Experience, can I use the $10,000 for the Field Research Experience for something else?
No. The Field Research Funding cannot be applied to anything else. Students who are unable to participate in this part of the program forfeit the $10,000 field research award.
Do I pay my fees and tuition using the $30,000 stipend that this program provides?
No, the $30,000 covers your living expenses (food and accommodation). In addition to the stipend, the IGERT directly pays tuition, fees and health insurance during the two years that you are supported by the program.
How does this stipend compare to the average graduate student stipend for an RA or TA?
The IGERT stipend is much more generous than the average graduate stipend offered by Graduate Fields at Cornell, although there is considerable variation among Fields. The amount is mandated by the National Science Foundation and is the same whether your school is located in Ithaca or New York City. Please recognize that during the additional two or more years you get Field support, your stipend is likely to be lower than it is during your IGERT traineeship; please plan accordingly.
Do I need to look for sources of additional support for the summer months?
No. IGERT funding is for 12 months a year for the two years you are supported.