Dr. Kalyani Maitra’s USDA Fellowship Enriches Student Opportunities

Fresno State chemistry and biochemistry professor Dr. Kalyani Maitra, is conducting research on algae.

Chemistry and biochemistry associate professor Dr. Kalyani Maitra, who recently participated in USDA’s E. Kika De La Garza (EKDLG) Science Fellowship, says the experience transformed how she supports and advises her students. 

“The fellowship opened my eyes to the varied roles within the USDA,” Maitra, an E. Kika De La Garza (EKDLG), said. “I now share this knowledge with students from all sorts of backgrounds, like agriculture and environmental sciences, letting them know about the many opportunities the USDA offers, from jobs to scholarships.”

According to a USDA article, Maitra spent one week at USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., learning about the diverse programs and opportunities USDA offers students and researchers. 

Maitra said she discovered the USDA EKDLG Program through materials from the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement and a campus talk by fellow educator Maral Kismetian, according to the USDA report. She was motivated to apply because the fellowship fosters collaboration between Hispanic-serving institutions and the USDA.

After her time in D.C., Maitra spent another week at the USDA Honey Bee Lab in Louisiana, collaborating with Entomologist Vincent Ricigliano on algae research.

Maitra said connecting to Ricigliano’s laboratory opened avenues for her to investigate algae research, which has potential practical benefits for bee health. She noted the research is particularly significant given bees’ crucial role in pollinating the Central Valley’s farmlands.

“Our collaboration would provide opportunities for student researchers to apply for internships at Dr. Ricigliano’s USDA-ARS lab, where they can gain first-hand experience working with pollinator bees and algae,” Maitra said.

About Dr. Maitra’s research

Maitra directs her research toward the sustainable utilization of algae. She investigates its effectiveness in capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide, its usefulness in cleaning wastewater, and its viability as an alternative resource for feedstock in agriculture, bioenergy, and bioproducts.

Additionally, she dedicates her efforts to designing and analyzing the structural features of polypeptide/peptidomimetics to employ them as antimicrobial agents.

Currently, her research team includes four graduate students and eight undergraduates.

Deadline to apply

The deadline to apply for the 2024 E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship is March 4, 2024. For more information or to submit an application, please visit the Hispanic Serving Institutions National Program.

Read the USDA article about Dr. Kalyani Maitra by clicking this link.