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Utah State University Professor Wins Fulbright Grant

Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011

USU professor David Hole with students in China

USU professor and Fulbright grant recipient David Hole prepares to plant wheat with students in China.

A professor in Utah State University’s Department of Plants, Soils and Climate was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach and research in Cambodia beginning February 2012.

David Hole is one of seven faculty members at Utah State University who received the grant this year. He hopes the award and subsequent research will contribute to ending food shortages around the world.

“This is an opportunity to make a difference in agricultural education in an area of the world that suffers from high levels of poverty and where food security is not some buzzword but is a very real concern,” Hole said.

A goal of Hole’s research is to create food security around the world, including the state of Utah. His current project focuses on creating wheat and barley that is resistant to disease and insects. By traveling around the world and searching out the best genetic traits of a species of plant, Hole is able to create new breeding systems. This leads to better quality and a higher yield of crops which, in turn, feeds more people higher quality food.

He said the Fulbright grant is a big step in helping him fine-tune his research and enhance his teaching experience. He also hopes the project will facilitate exchanging ideas on collaborative research.

“The students and faculty I have interacted with in Cambodia are so dedicated and focused that it is infectious,” Hole said.

When the program finishes in April 2012, Hole will bring his research back into the classroom. The trip allows him to gain first-hand experience in agricultural production systems so he can more effectively teach the “world Food crops” class when he returns to USU. 

“Sometimes I think we take our educational system in the United States for granted,” Hole said. “When you see students whose entire family is making a real, significant sacrifice to send them to school, it is very sobering.”

After preparing a project proposal in February 2010, Hole remained in contact with faculty and administrators in Cambodia and Thailand and colleagues in the United States. He was contacted about the award last spring, a week before he was scheduled to take a year sabbatical in China.

Before beginning work for the Royal University of Agriculture in Cambodia in February, Hole will spend time at North West Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling, China, Tsukuba University in Tsukuba, Japan, and Kasetsart University in Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand, fostering connections and creating relationships for the College of Agriculture at USU.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is a flagship international educational exchange program that was created to increase understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Each year, more than 7,500 faculty and students are awarded fellowships to study, teach and research in countries around the world. The organization provides funding for transportation, stipends, housing and living allowances for the grantees. This year, there are seven grantees in the field of agriculture from the United States.

USU’s College of Agriculture has a history of Fulbright winners. Past recipients include Roger Kjelgren of the Plants, Soils and Climate Department who traveled to Thailand in 2005 and Roger Coulombe from the Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Science Department who traveled to Finland last year.

“Utah State University and the College of Agriculture will benefit from the increased collaboration with international partners,” said Hole. “This will open doors for student exchanges and graduate student recruitment.”

Related links:

Contact: David Hole, professor, plant breeding & genetics,

Writer: Alexandria Evensen, Extension writer, (435) 797-8190,

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