ATHENS – Samuel Lamon, a doctoral student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia, has been selected for the 2022-25 cohort of the Food and Agriculture Research Foundation Fellowship Program.
The FFAR Fellows Program provides a platform for personal and professional growth for doctoral students working in the agricultural and food research sector. The three-year program helps selected fellows to develop communication and other professional skills, connecting them with other fellows, industry members, and relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Lamon is a student at the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, advised by David Bertioli. Lamon at the CAES Wild Peanut Lab is looking at genomic instability, or the frequency of change in peanut DNA over time.
Developing a better understanding of the genetic instability of peanuts could help protect the purity and quality of peanut seeds in the future, which may protect their value for food security.
Because peanuts are a hardy crop that is relatively easy to grow, water-efficient, nutritious and requires little preparation or cooking, they are ideal for ensuring food security in areas where fresh food is difficult to grow or obtain. The ultimate goal of Lamon’s research is to help others achieve food security by using peanuts.
“I am very excited to see Samuele join the international agriculture leaders at FFAR,” said Chris Rhodes, Director of Industrial Partnerships and Project Based Learning at CAES. “There is a real benefit to Samuele as he uses this community to learn how to better connect industry with academia, and UGA gains from having our graduate students expand their perspectives.
“In addition, FFAR in the real world focuses on six critical areas of challenge to feed the world. These students are not only coming from all over the world to improve their career prospects; they are working with leaders and with each other to discover ways to feed more people better food with greater of sustainability. I look forward to seeing what Samuel can accomplish.”
Lamon applied to the FFAR program after realizing that his research and FFAR’s focus areas – which include areas such as next-generation crops and the relationship between health and agriculture – were closely related. He felt that the program could help him better explain his research and connect it with like-minded researchers who specialize in the field.
“This is a really fun opportunity, and I think that’s what I need during my PhD,” Lamon said. “My research fits the target areas of the program, and I want to do more than just research. I also want to develop those soft skills that can help me be a more capable person in my working relationships.”
Lamon decided to pursue agriculture and research during his undergraduate years at the University of Padua in Italy to study agricultural sciences. To get his master’s degree, he came to the University of Georgia to study specific parts of the DNA of a wild peanut that fights a fungal disease. After receiving his dual master’s degrees from UGA and the University of Padua, he joined the Wild Peanut Lab for his Ph.D.
Lamon also said he expects FFAR to help him decide where he wants to take his career after completing his degree, whether that includes continuing his research, becoming more involved in the industry or some other way to present itself while he’s on the program.
The 2022-25 cohort is the fifth class of FFAR Fellows since the program began in 2018.
“The newest cohort of FFAR Fellows is an incredible group of young scholars and leaders who want to make a positive difference in the world,” said Rebecca Dunning, who runs the FFAR Fellows programme. “This fellowship offers training and networking opportunities to provide these students with the tools to succeed in their future careers while enhancing their current productivity and well-being as Ph.D. students.”
Amanda Budd is a writer in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia.