Graduate Programs

Student carrying plants in the greenhouses

The Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems (ANFS) at the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture is structured to study and strengthen the farm to fork to wellness connection. ANFS, which offers graduate degree programs in agricultural and nutritional sciences, is the only department of its kind in the country that spans this continuum.

Our graduate students work on a range of research topics spanning sustainable animal, vegetable and fruit production on one end of the continuum to human wellness on the other. Whether it’s breeding for high carotene content in vegetables, extending season length with high tunnels, or measuring the impact of high carotene diets on human health, our research is helping build a more sustainable food system.

Our goal is to prepare students for careers in nutrition- and agricultural-related fields, including employment in the public or private sectors, and/or for further academic advancement in research, teaching or professional specialization. Graduates of our program rejoin or start their own farms, join companies who work to serve those farms, work with communities struggling with food access, and conduct research with state, federal and international agriculture organizations.

Graduate Degree Programs

ANFS offers programs for students interested in a broad range of exciting and challenging careers spanning the farm to fork to wellness continuum. We offer four thesis-based graduate degree programs in nutrition and agricultural sciences. In addition, we offer two non-thesis-based M.S. programs in nutritional sciences, with options for a combined M.S. and dietetic internship and an accelerated B.S./M.S.

Why choose UNH for your degree?

UNH is among the nation’s highest-performing research universities, having earned a Carnegie Classification R1. Our research portfolio brings in more than $110 million in competitive external funding each year. Federal and state funding supports research on diverse aspects of sustainable agriculture and associated underpinning life sciences as well as the translational effects of diet and human wellness.

Students have the opportunity to partner with state and regional growers and producers and collaborate with leading researchers worldwide. As a graduate student at UNH, you’ll have the opportunity to work in several top-notch teaching and research facilities, including the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, one of the university’s largest research organizations.

Our department brings together a strong and growing group of faculty representing diverse interests in nutrition and agricultural sciences. They conduct basic and applied research in nutrition, food systems, animal science, aquaculture, plant sciences, and agroecology. Specific areas of research available for graduate study include:

  • Nutritional epidemiology
  • Dietary risk factors of overweight and obesity
  • Season extension for specialty crops
  • Aquaponic food production
  • Organic dairy
  • Ruminant nutritional physiology
  • Environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture
  • Floriculture
  • Controlled environment agriculture (CEA)
  • Agricultural engineering
  • Plant physiology
  • Plant nutrition
  • Plant pathology
  • Biological control of plant diseases
  • Plant evolution and domestication
  • Plant breeding
  • Horticulture
  • Aquaculture

For more research information, please visit our faculty biographies.

Thesis-based graduate research assistantships are available in the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems (ANFS) beginning August 2021 for highly qualified applicants. Applicants with strong demonstrated intellectual merit and research experience are encouraged to apply to work with any of our faculty. ANFS offers teaching and research assistantships in the master’s and doctoral programs.

Because funding is fluid, we encourage you to apply early. Funding decisions will be made beginning January 15th for full funding consideration.

In addition to the established research program in ANFS, we are specifically recruiting talented students to work in the following cutting-edge research programs in the farm-to-fork-to-wellness continuum.

Human nutrition, cardiometabolic risks, and the gut microbiota

Research in the Dao Lab focuses on human nutrition, obesity and its comorbidities, and the gut microbiota. We use a multi-disciplinary approach to identify biological and psychosocial targets for tailored lifestyle interventions for weight management and healthy eating. A primary focus is on populations that are disproportionately impacted by the obesity epidemic. There are diverse research opportunities for prospective students, ranging from data analysis of the gut microbiome in relation to dietary intake and clinical outcomes, to community-based research to identify lifestyle and psychosocial factors associated with overweight.

Contact: Dr. Carlota Dao

Specialty Crop Production and Season Extension

The Sideman Lab takes an integrated approach to research and extension activities that focus on high-value specialty crop production and methods of extending the growing season for New Hampshire farmers. We are particularly interested in researching strategies to minimize production costs and ecological impacts, while producing economically viable yields of high-quality crops. Recent projects have focused on identifying new crops, cultivars and production practices, including season extension technologies, that expand opportunities for vegetable and berry production in northern New England.

Contact: Dr. Becky Sideman

Crop Physiology and Metabolomics

Research in the Lima Lab focuses on the impact of biotic and abiotic factors on plant physiology and biochemistry. Issues addressed include productivity, plant health and nutrient/phytochemical composition of fresh fruit and legumes. We are currently looking to recruit a graduate student to work on nutrient and phytochemical composition of plant foods that add to their nutritional value. Candidates should have a background in biology, biochemistry, food science, nutrition or closely related fields and a strong interest in interdisciplinary research. Experience with basic laboratory techniques and research and strong writing skills are preferred.

Contact: Dr. Marta Lima

Integrated Plant Disease Management

The Poleatewich plant pathology lab focuses on the use of sanitation, beneficial microbes, and plant resistance to manage disease in several horticultural crops. We explore interactions between beneficial microbes, plants, and the environment to identify best practices for sustainable disease management. We specialize in biological control of plant diseases and the role microbes and their metabolites play in plant health, yield, and quality. If you are excited by plants, microbes, and agriculture contact Dr. Poleatewich to learn more! We have diverse research opportunities for students to work on projects spanning basic and applied research questions.

Contact: Dr. Anissa Poleatewich

Enhancing Ecosystem Service Provisioning on Farms

Dr. Mortensen recently joined the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems as Professor and Chair of the Department. The Mortensen lab is interested in continuing a body of research and long-term, place-based experimental work, on the link between field-edge perennial plant communities and their role in supporting pollinators in adjacent crops. That work could extend to broader ecosystem service provisioning afforded by cover crops in grain and vegetable cropping systems. As Scientist on the National Organic Standards Board, Dr. Mortensen is also interested in conducting research that helps detail steps we can take nationally to improve the integrity of organic production methods and associated labeling.

Contact: Dr. Dave Mortensen and Dr. Rich Smith

Specialty Crop Improvement

The flavorful and nutrition-packed kiwiberry is an emerging specialty crop in the northeast and globally, and UNH has the only research and breeding program in the country dedicated to its systematic improvement. Trait development, genetics, horticulture, post-harvest physiology, nutrition and marketing are among the research areas, and as an ANFS graduate student, you can play an important role in our progress. If applied research on a new specialty crop for our region’s producers and consumers appeals to you, check out the research program of Dr. Iago Hale and consider applying to our M.S. program in Agricultural Sciences.

Contact: Dr. Iago Hale

Plant Genetics and Plant Domestication

Current research in the Davis Lab focuses on plant genetic/genomic resource development, plant evolution/domestication and plant breeding. A central research focus is on fast-tracking the domestication of locally adapted native species, with current emphasis on Chenopodium berlandieri (a relative of quinoa), and Fragaria virginiana (a wild ancestor of the cultivated strawberry). Our approaches include germplasm collection and development, genetic mapping and marker-assisted breeding and an exploration of the potential of CRISPR-based gene editing. We are also contributing to a breeding program aimed at developing organically certifiable seed-propagated strawberry varieties.

Contact: Dr. Tom Davis

  • In the Field
    Alina Harris '19G is a student in UNH's agricultural sciences master's program. Find out what she's doing and why she loves doing it at New Hampshire's flagship...
    In the Field
    Alina Harris '19G is a student in UNH's agricultural sciences master's program. Find out what she's doing and why she loves doing it at New Hampshire's flagship...
  • Work at the Intersection of Nutrition Research and Population Health
    Although born in Ottawa, Canada, Caitlin Porter '20G grew up in New Hampshire, which made her especially eager to return to the state and enroll in UNH’s Nutritional Sciences master’s program after receiving her bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut.
    Work at the Intersection of Nutrition Research and Population Health
    Although born in Ottawa, Canada, Caitlin Porter '20G grew up in New Hampshire, which made her especially eager to return to the state and enroll in UNH’s Nutritional Sciences master’s program after receiving her bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut.