Research and Innovation Fellowship for Agriculture (RIFA)

RIFA is now accepting applications from host institutions to receive fellows in 2018. Deadline is December 15th. More information for host institutions below.

About the Program

The Research and Innovation Fellowship for Agriculture (RIFA) offers early-career professionals enrolled in agricultural and development-oriented graduate programs at all University of California campuses the opportunity to plan, engage and implement two to six-month-long international projects in developing countries.

RIFA Fellows collaborate with a host institution in the country they are working to develop robust projects that address global challenges in agriculture and food systems. Host organizations define the available opportunities and a fellow’s collaborative work contributes integrally to the success and sustainability of ongoing projects and programs. Faculty mentors at the University of California also play an integral role, serving as resources and helping guide Fellows in their projects.

RIFA is funded primarily by the United States Agency for International Development's Global Development Lab and by the University of California's Global Food Initiative.

RIFA Fellow Spotlights

2017 RIFA Fellows Conference-April 14th, 2017
Kate Polakiewicz - Soil Health and Coffee Leaf Rust Disease in Central America
Henry Hellmuth - Climate-smart potato and legume intercropping in Kenya
Sarah Adcock - Dairy cattle welfare in Sri Lanka
Flavia Oliveira - Forest conservation and sustainability in faxinal communities in Brazil
Ian Trupin - Improving response systems to combat infectious diseases in Tanzania
Israel Jimenez Luna - Management strategies for reducing root rot in Chilean walnut orchards
Alicia Calle - Farmers' engagement with silvopastoral restoration in Colombia
Ty Beal - Building the foundation for informed policy about 'sustainable diets' in the Global South
Bilkis Bharucha - Project development benefitting the local community in Georgia
Halie Kampman - Surveying for a biofortification nutrition project in The Gambia
Julia Jordan - Building capacity in gender and irrigation design with young engineers in Uganda

RIFA Fellows Videos

More videos can be found on our Youtube page.

2016 RIFA fellows Sammi Wong, Hanyaun Jiang and Elizabeth Hohenbeger received an honorable mention for this video from the World Food Day Video Challenge!

2017 RIFA Amazon Biodiversity fellow Neill Prohaska describes his research on microbial leaf communities in the treetops of the Brazilian Amazon.

RIFA Fellows Map 2015-2017

Information for Student Applicants

General applications for 2017 RIFA Fellows have closed.

RIFA Fellows Important Forms & Information: Download the 2017 RIFA Fellows Packet here.

Watch our application video to learn more about the application process.

Application Process:

All University of California graduate students are eligible to apply.

To apply, download the fillable application and send the following materials to

  • Completed application
  • Letter of interest to each project you are applying to
  • Order of project preferences, if you are applying to multiple projects
  • CV (2-page maximum)

Programmatic Expectations and Requirements:

  • Fellows must take project planning course (at UC Davis IAD 203) or one week short-course from June 19-23, 2017 at UC Davis.
  • Fellows must attend annual conference on April 8, 2017 at UC Davis.
  • Fellows must correspond regularly with their mentors.

Award Benefits:

  • Students will receive a travel stipend for round-trip airfare.
  • Students will receive a stipend of $1,000 for each month in country.
  • An additional $200 will be available for small project costs, such as renting desk space or purchasing project supplies.
  • Health coverage and pre-travel vaccination costs.

For more information see our programmatic brochure.

Program Sustainability

We envision the RIFA program as a challenge to our institutional development office to build an endowment that could expand and sustain this initiative. We will seek the opportunity to demonstrate during the next three years the importance of this program and to reach out to the private sector for support. To learn more see our support flyer.

Host Institutions

Hosts can be international NGOs, host country universities, research institutions, or non-US government agencies, as well as local not-for-profit development organization.

Hosting of a RIFA Fellow entails providing them with overseas project or research opportunities with a UC-affiliated organization. These opportunities may be well-defined, or they may identify a broadly defined need within the organization from which the Fellow and the organization could jointly develop a project plan. Projects should address a specific challenge in the agriculture or food systems sector. Fellowships frequently contribute to students’ master or doctoral work. Basic internships where the student works broadly within an organization are not appropriate for RIFA Fellowships

Learn more about hosting a RIFA fellow from our RIFA Host informational flier: 2017 RIFA Host flier.

RIFA will begin recruiting 2018 hosts in October 2017, with an applicant deadline in mid-December. If you are interested in submitting a host applications please email Elana Peach-Fine at


Mentors are an integral piece of the RIFA Fellowship Program. Mentors may be professors, emeriti, or non-faculty academics affiliated with the University of California. Mentors will work with students to create their implementation plans, build connections with their partners and follow their progress throughout the project cycle.