Dr. Julia Kornegay, Professor and Director of Graduate Programs, has been appointed by USDA as the Panel Manager for the 2015 Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) Program. She is responsible for the scientific merit review of the grant applications. The SCRI program is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and has an estimated total funding of $49 million. The purpose of the SCRI program is to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry in the United States by awarding grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance. The projects must address at least one of five focus areas: crop improvement (breeding, genetics, genomics); biotic constraints (pests, diseases, and threats to pollinators); production (handling, processing, productivity, profitability and marketing); new innovations and technologies (mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening); and food safety (detection, monitoring, control, handling, and processing).