LASER PULSE Partners with Minority Serving Institutions in Development Research

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LASER PULSE Partners with Minority Serving Institutions in Development Research

Researchers in Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) represent a significant resource of scientific talent to partner with USAID in development research. Development research, in turn, provides new opportunities to MSI researchers to increase the impact of their research and secure new valuable research funding. In view of USAID’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategy, the Administration’s Executive Order (E.O.) 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, and LASER’s own commitment towards supporting research led by MSI HEIs, LASER issued the MSI Request for Applications (RFA) in November 2021, calling for 12-month projects in USAID partner countries in most technical sectors. It also required the utilization of a system-level framework to analyze a USAID development priority in the selected country and its underlying development challenge in order to identify the research questions.

Five applications were selected through a rigorous LASER PULSE review process and approved by USAID for funding. The awards span two sectors, agriculture/food security and education, and the research will be conducted in four countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Rwanda, and Zambia. They involve a collaboration between MSI researchers and a development practitioner in the respective USAID partner country. The project details are available below.

Agriculture and Food Security Awards  

Enhancing Resilience in Chicken Value Chain in Bangladesh: Reducing Moral Hazard and Improving Food Safety Strategies

Lead institution: Texas State University

Supporting partners: Mati Bangladesh and Bangladesh Agricultural University

About the project: Poultry in Bangladesh is regarded as an important subsector of agriculture with its contribution to employment and food security for the diverse socio-economic population. However, the quality and safety of poultry meat is a growing concern with the presence of heavy metals in poultry feeds and the use of antibiotics as a growth promoter. The goal of this research is to investigate the factors influencing unsafe meat production and to devise effective interventions that can be used to inform regulation and policies across the poultry value chain.

Adaptation of BAU-STR Dryer for Postharvest Loss Reduction and Livelihood Improvement of Underserved Communities 

Lead institution: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Supporting partners: Bangladesh Agricultural University and Unnayan Shahojogy 

About the project: The goal of the research is to adapt the BAU-STR dryer (developed under the Feed the Future Postharvest Loss Reduction Innovation Lab, PHLIL-Bangladesh project) to address the perennial issue of postharvest food loss and waste (FLW) in Bangladesh. The mechanical grain dryer has been proven to be cost-effective and gender-friendly, and thus could serve as an effective drying solution to mitigate the impact of FLW on the livelihoods of underserved communities. The project activities will help bridge the knowledge gap on appropriate grain drying practices among historically underserved communities to facilitate the reduction of postharvest FLW and to increase income. The project will deliver standard operating procedures, a training manual, and fact sheets for building the capacity of the target population.

The Impact of Traditional Practice on the Quality and Safety of Post-Production Handling in the Milk Value-Chain in Rwanda 

Lead institution: Alabama A&M University

Supporting partners: University of Rwanda, University of Global Health Equity, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board, and National Industrial Research & Development Agency

About the project: The goal of the research project is to strengthen Milk Collection Centers’ (MMC) capacities through a risk-based controls approach – a proactive and systematic approach aimed at identifying, evaluating, and controlling food safety hazards. The approach will not only identify the real risks at MCCs and enhance their testing capacity using reliable and low-cost techniques but will also develop a standardized curriculum by establishing a “Food Safety Plan” for adoption across all MCCs in Rwanda. The project will be piloted to select MCC before scaling up countrywide. It will also provide training for policymakers on the standardization of quality and safety in the milk value chain.

Using Nature-Based Solutions to Improve the Productivity of Maize Growers in Zambia

Lead institution: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Supporting partners: Salvation Farming Solutions LLC. and Zambia Policy Monitoring and Research Centre

About the project: The goal of the project is to improve the food security status in Zambia by improving the productivity of maize farmers. The project will address the two of three priority areas identified in the USAID in the Country Development Cooperation Strategy for Zambia, namely: development of citizen capacity and improvement in the capacity of the economy. The research aims to create awareness of Salvation Farming Solutions (SFS) techniques and to demonstrate their effectiveness as a means of increasing productivity of maize farmers in the Chipata, Mansa, and Nanga regions of Zambia, obtaining expressions of interest for the project. Additionally, extension agents, key informants, and stakeholders will be trained on how to use  SFS techniques in the three regions. The SFS techniques involve the use of nature-based products, consisting of soil and seed treatments, organic fertilizers, and organic pesticides.

Education Award

Impacts of the Quota System on Afro-Brazilians/Indigenous Education and Brazil’s National Interest

Lead institution: University of Puerto Rico

Supporting partners: Prairie View A&M University and Afrobras, Brazil

About the project: Inclusive Education is one of the most powerful tools for social change and a big part of upholding civil rights, especially where the Diversity, Equity, and

Inclusion (DEI) efforts are championed. In Brazil, DEI efforts in education are upheld through the “Quota Law” enacted by the previous administration, but not observed by the current administration. The goal of this project is to raise awareness about the social and economic impacts of inclusion in education and the workforce in Brazil. This will be accomplished by collecting and analyzing data on the Quota System to determine whether the “Quota Law” has contributed to the social and economic advancement of Afro-Brazilians/Indigenous people, both at the individual and corporate level. Furthermore, the project will design a manual on how to increase DEI in the workplace. The information will be used to strengthen the case of advocating for a continuation of the “Quota Law.”





  • Betty Bugusu, Technical Director, LASER-PULSE, Purdue University
  • Marcy Wilson, Operations Manager, LASER-PULSE, Purdue University

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