National Needs Fellowship (NNF) Program



The department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at Purdue University is pleased to offer United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)- National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) National Needs Fellowship (NNF) to a total of six incoming MS students. The USDA-NIFA NNF award will be administered to two students each starting Fall 2021, 2022, and 2023, to complete research-based MS degree in Data Science and Engineering concentration within ABE.


The USDA-NIFA NNF Fellows will be exposed to latest concepts and theory in data engineering, data science, and core disciplinary practices. They are expected to inspire and motivate next generation students through their participation in mentoring undergraduate students in programs such as Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF), Purdue Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE), and Data Mine. The NNF Fellows are expected to enhance their leadership and problem-solving skills by getting involved in the organization of hackathon events and participation in BoilerMake or similar events. The NNF Fellows are expected to avail professional development opportunities by participating in industry sponsored projects and interact with a number of stakeholders in events organized by the Open Ag Technology and Systems (OATS) Center to enhance their intellectual capacity.


  • Be a US Citizen or National.
  • Meet the standard admission requirements established for graduate students in the ABE department.
Application Procedure
  • Apply to the ABE Graduate Program at Purdue University.
  • Send a Statement of Interest (1000 words or less) outlining strong interest for pursuing a data science related career in either of the focus areas of machinery systems, natural resources & environmental systems, or biological systems. The Statement of Interest could be sent via email to any of the mentors based on your interest area.
  • Make yourself available for a virtual interview.



Dr. Dharmendra Saraswat

Principal Investigator

Interest Area

Data Science and Digital Agriculture; Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering

Dr. Dennis Buckmaster

Interest Area

 Machine Systems Engineering; Data Science and Digital Agriculture

Dr. Keith Cherkauer

Interest Area

Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering; Data Science and Digital Agriculture

Dr. Somali Chaterji

Interest Area

Biological Engineering; Data Science and Digital Agriculture