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E. Kika De La Garza Science Fellow Finds Community in Fellowship

Posted by Carrie Knight, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Apr 04, 2024
Dr. Samuel Discua

Dr. Samuel Discua is a postdoctoral researcher at University of Arizona Yuma in the Department of Entomology, where he studies the ecology and management of insect pests associated with leafy greens and melons in Arizona cropping systems. Yuma and the rest of the state lead national lettuce crop production. His research currently focuses on the role of host plants in the transfer of insect-transmitted diseases in lettuce and melons. He also teaches a series of courses at University of Yuma on Agricultural Systems Management and Crop Production.

Discua first learned about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) E. Kika De La Garza (EKDLG) Science Fellowship through Roberto Gonzalez, his local USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) liaison, who encouraged him to apply. Discua was looking for ways to connect and collaborate with USDA scientists, as well as opportunities to support his students by learning more about USDA grants and programs. EKDLG Fellowships are designed specifically to introduce faculty and staff from Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI) and Hispanic-serving school districts to the USDA resources available to them.

After spending a week in Washington, D.C. with other EKDLG fellows learning about USDA opportunities and resources, Discua had the chance to engage with USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Salinas, California. “They tackle similar agricultural challenges to those in Yuma,” he said. “My work is interdisciplinary, involving collaboration with plant pathologists, weed scientists, and fellow entomologists, both within the university and ARS.”

Since this experience, Discua has regularly shared information about various USDA opportunities with students and colleagues back at the University of Arizona Yuma.

Discua considers the connections he made with fellow HSI faculty and staff among the most rewarding aspect of the fellowship, and he appreciates the opportunity he was given to connect with research colleagues from other Hispanic serving institutions. “We share a desire to help students finish college and succeed,” he said. “We established long lasting bonds as well as professional collaborations that will continue long after our fellowship experience.”

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives