Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois

Prof. Shukla receives New Innovator Award for food and agriculture research

Congratulations to Blue Waters Assistant Professor Diwakar Shukla, recipient of the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award!

Shukla, a faculty member of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois, focuses his research on understanding complex biological processes using novel physics-based models and techniques.

The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research program supports promising scientists who demonstrate not only a commitment to catalyzing innovation in food and agriculture, but also a dedication to mentoring students. This is the second annual set of early career grants to outstanding food and agriculture researchers from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit established through the 2014 Farm Bill.

Back row (left to right): Markita Landry, Benjamin Reading (2016), Sotirios Archontoulis, Mary Jamieson (2016), Diwakar Shukla, Jonas King Front row (left to right): Crystal Levesque (2016), Maya Vadiveloo, Hannah Holscher, Lisa Tiemann (2016), and Mary Anne Amalaradjou

As part of the award, Dr. Shukla and fellow award winners are participating in a scientific communications workshop in Washington, D.C. this week. The day-long workshop will help equip the early career leaders to promote the importance of their own work and ultimately, attract young scientists to the food and agriculture research workforce. New Innovator awardees will also have the opportunity to discuss their work with members of Congress and their staff while in Washington.

Shukla said he is honored to have been selected for the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award.

“The project will address the key challenge of nitrogen pollution due to excessive use of fertilizers. My lab is working on understanding how plants pick up fertilizers from soil and approaches to enhance the nitrogen use efficiency. The proposed project will not only utilize modern computational approaches, but also provide a unique platform to demonstrate the need, feasibility, and impact of computational chemistry in addressing fundamental challenges in agriculture.”

Shukla also is an affiliate faculty member in the Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, the Computational Science & Engineering Program, the Department of Plant Biology and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to support Professor Shukla’s research as part of our work to catalyze innovation and foster a strong scientific workforce for the future,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., executive director of FFAR. “I look forward to seeing the impact of the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award not only on Dr. Shukla’s career, but also on advancing agriculture.”

Shukla is one of two Illinois researchers chosen for the award. Dr. Hannah Holscher, Assistant Professor of Nutrition, is also a recipient.

Here’s the full list of 2017 award winners.

Nutrition and Healthy Food Choices
• Hannah Holscher, Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
• Maya Vadiveloo, Ph.D. , University of Rhode Island

Plant Efficiency
• Diwakar Shukla, Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
• Markita Landry, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
• Kranthi Mandadi, Ph.D., Texas A&M University

Optimizing Agricultural Water Use
• Sotirios Archontoulis, Ph.D., Iowa State University of Science and Technology

Spurring Food System Innovation
• Jonas King, Ph.D., Mississippi State University

Transforming Soil Health
• Steven Culman, Ph.D., The Ohio State University

A public request for nominations for the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award was limited to researchers within the first three years of their faculty careers. Applicants were also required to demonstrate a commitment to mentoring, supporting the Foundation’s interest in inspiring future generations of agricultural and food scientists.

Learn more about the 2017 New Innovators and their research directions.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population.