Interdisciplinary Research Training for Undergraduates: Crop Diversity and Food and Income Security in East Africa, University of Vermont

Burlington, VT

Position Title: Interdisciplinary Research Training for Undergraduates: Crop Diversity and Food and Income Security in East Africa

Organization: University of Vermont

Location: Burlington, VT

Position Overview:  The goal of this REU is to provide an engaging, rigorous, and inspiring interdisciplinary research and educational experience for selected U.S. students, preparing them for graduate and/or professional work in international development, applied economics, sociology, demography, public policy and related fields. Participants will develop and apply social science and STEM research methods, with instruction and training in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), statistical analysis of large farm/household datasets, and hand-on field research spanning disciplines from applied economics and rural sociology to agro-ecology, plant sciences, demography and nutrition.

This REU Site seeks to contribute to active debates around how production of diverse crops relates to food and income security. Ugandan farmers cultivate an extraordinary diversity of crops, including hundreds of varieties of beans, bananas, and other staple and specialty food crops. Student projects will link newly available geospatial datasets and large household survey datasets on crop diversity, climate patterns, and farm livelihood outcomes (nutrition, health), as well as primary data collected with partners in East Africa. Results will be shared widely through meetings of community partners, co-authored student publications, and student participation in professional conferences.


  • Interviews/surveys exploring crop diversity benefits and values
  • Network analysis of seed flows through farmer-to-farmer social networks
  • Value chain analyses looking at the production, processing, and marketing of diverse food crops
  • GIS analyses of farmland use, climate change impacts on crops, and changes in cropping over time
  • Multi-method analyses of relationships between local and regional crop diversity and farmer livelihood outcomes


  • The University of Vermont Summer REU Site is open to current, full-time undergraduate students from all U.S. institutions – including 2-year and community colleges, and all private and public colleges and universities.
  • Past experience in social or ecological field research is not required, although some specific projects may require students to have coursework experience in statistics, agricultural / ecological sciences, or related fields.
  • Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or Resident Aliens at the time of application and throughout the duration of the Summer REU Site program, and must possess or obtain a passport valid through February 2024.
  • Students from under-represented/served groups in STEM sciences, students from low socioeconomic experiences, and students from institutions with limited or unavailable research opportunities are particularly encouraged to apply for this opportunity.
  • Students must be available between June 13 and August 8, 2023 for the face-to-face portion of the program, and may not be enrolled in other coursework or have employment responsibilities during the eight weeks of the face-to-face program.
  • Applicants must be a respectful visitor in a foreign country and an engaged member of a research team.
  • Per NSF rules, students who have received their bachelor’s degrees and are no longer enrolled as undergraduates at the time of the Summer program are not eligible to participate

Start/End Dates: June 13- August 8

Salary/Pay: Students who are selected to participate will receive a generous stipend and additional financial assistance covering transportation, housing, and meals during the 8-week summer program

Application Deadline: February 28

How to Apply: Please use the online application to view the full job description as well as how to apply.