Research and Innovation Fellowship for Agriculture (RIFA)

RIFA is still accepting Brazil Biodiversity applications for 2017 Fellows!
Brazil Biodiversity Fellowships are open until filled. Please contact RIFA to check the most recent status of a particular position before applying.
Check out the specific opportunities in our project catalog.
Fill out the 2017 RIFA Fellow Application here.
General applications for 2017 RIFA Fellows have closed.

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

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.

For more information see our programmatic brochure.

RIFA Fellow Spotlights

Kate Polakiewicz- Soil Health and Coffee Leaf Rust Disease in Central America

Information for Student Applicants

Applications for the 2017 RIFA fellowships are open!

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.

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 is no longer accepting host applications for 2017. Organizations interested in hosting a 2017 RIFA fellow should submit statements of interests to Elana Peach-Fine at by Sept. 1, and complete the full Host Profile by Sept. 19.


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.