The D. Woods Thomas Memorial Fund to Support International Studies

Shortly after the 1993 death of D. Woods Thomas, former Dean of International Programs in Agriculture, his friends, relatives, and colleagues established an endowment fund in his memory.  Because of his lifelong commitment to international agricultural development, the donors have directed that income from the endowment to support College of Agriculture graduate students who will be doing research or studying in a developing country as part of their University program.  The endowment has grown to a size sufficient to generate a stream of income to support modest annual support.  The office of International Programs in Agriculture will select recipients according to the criteria listed below.


This award is available to graduate students in any recognized post-baccalaureate program in any discipline or department in the College of Agriculture at Purdue University.  The intent of the award is to help increase the capacity of young American scientists to contribute to international agricultural development.  Therefore, only U.S. citizens are eligible for this award.  Funds may be used to support research, study, or other scholarly activities, including travel, in a developing country anywhere in the world, (QI2023 list of developing countries). The maximum individual award will be $1500 and will be paid to recipient via the Financial Aid system.  Recipients are asked to use their award within 12 months of receiving the funds.

Application Procedure

Applicants should submit a letter of application (maximum of 4 pages) for consideration for this award. The letter of application should include:
  • Name, department, degree, contact information and major professor
  • A description of your proposed international research, study or scholarly activity;
  • Information on when and how you will use the award (include a detailed budget and indicate other support funds);
  • A discussion of how your planned international activity will contribute to your graduate studies; and
  • A statement of your career goals relative to international engagement.

Applicants should also provide a letter of support from their major professor or departmental graduate program director.

Applications using the format found above are due by 5pm on February 17, 2024. A pdf file should be sent to Lonni Kucik (  Award notification will be made by mid-March. 


Applications will be reviewed by a committee of faculty appointed by the Associate Dean and Director of IPIA.  Evaluation will be based on adherence to stated eligibility criteria, the strength of the applicant's commitment to an international career, and the perceived contribution of the proposed international activity to the applicant's academic program. ​​​​​​​​​


Previous Awardees of D. Woods Thomas Scholarship


Mary Kathryn “Katy” Dix is a MS graduate student in the Department of Forestry & Natural Resources. She works with her faculty advisor, Professor Zhao Ma, in the Human Dimensions Lab to collaborate with the Rainforest Alliance in Guatemala to assess the costs and benefits of silvopastoral and agroforestry systems in the Mayan Biosphere reserve.

Leah Thompson is a PhD graduate student in the Department of Animal Sciences. She works with her faculty advisor, Professor Paul Ebner, focusing on international development in agriculture and gender. Her most recent project focuses on studying gender as it relates to food safety for women vegetable producers in Cambodia. 

Savannah O’Malley is a PhD graduate student in the Department of Nutrition Science and a MPH graduate student in the Department of Public Health. She works with her faculty advisor, Professor Nilupa Gunaratna, to study food systems, specifically sources of food for households in East Africa.

Watch 2023 D. Woods Thomas Award Ceremony

nate bowser     wyatt pracht     jeff stallman

 Nate Bowser is an MSC graduate student in the Department of Agronomy. He works with his faculty advisor, Gebisa Ejeta, to conduct research on seed parents for producing desirable hybrids resistant to disease. His grant will support travel to Ethiopia during the fall 2022 harvest season.

Wyatt Pracht is an MSC graduate student in the Department of Agriculture Economics. He works with his faculty advisor, Jacob Ricker-Gilbert, to study how to build sustainable supply chains through the employment of youth resellers. His grant will support travel to Kenya in the fall of 2022. 

Jeff Stallman is a PhD graduate student in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. He works with his faculty advisor, Cathie Aime, to survey tropical mycology for baseline data on novel fungi (Leotiomycetes). His grant will support travel to collect specimens in Cusuco National Park in Honduras during the summer of 2022. 

Watch 2022 D. Woods Thomas Award Ceremony


Victoria Garibay, PhD, ABE - Brooke McWherter, PhD, FRN - Victoria Parker, PhD, ASEC

This year we received four great applications requesting funding to support research/study in Brazil, Bolivia, SEnegal, and Tanzania. We had a reception scheduled for March 31, 2020 to honor the recipients, but due to the COVID-19 disruptions, this has been postponed. We had invited Leslie (daughter of D. Woods) and Clark Dale to attend and talk to the recipients. The planned international travel for all the recipients is also on hold - so we'll reassess their needs and travel plans when we are able to return to campus. 


On March 25, 2019, IPIA hosted a reception to honor three graduate students, Jacie Grant (ANSC, major professor Liz Karcher), Meagan Rathjen (FRN, major professor Bob Wagner), and Kirsten Roe (FNR/AGEC, co-major professors Paul Brown and Kwamena Quagrainie). Each received $1000 scholarships to support their research focused in developing countries.  After a presentation of the awards by Dr. Gerald Shively, Associate Dean and Director of IPIA, the students shared their backgrounds and their international research plans.  A special treat for all attendees was meeting and hearing from D. Woods Thomas's daughter and son-in-law, Leslie and Clark Dale.  Leslie expressed heartfelt appreciation for the students' interest in working in developing countries.  She relayed how pleased her father would be to know his legacy continues to encourage students to engage with stakeholders in developing countries to help address development challenges.  


Award certificates were presented to Mathew Ethington (ENTM, major professor Matthew Ginzel), Dante Franconamo (FNR, major professor Bryan Pijanowski), and Rebecca Nixon, Jennifer Domenech, and Jason Hawes (FNR, major professor Zhao Ma).  Not pictured Laura Jessup (FNR).  A reception was held in their honor on April 20, 2018.


IPIA was able to award five D. Woods Thomas award for 2017.  Recipients pictured here are Megan Fenton (AGRY-work in Ethiopia), Hannah Quellhorst (ENTM- work in Kenya and Tanzania) and Natalie Donavan (AGEC-work in Colombia).  Chelsea Clyde-Brockway (FNR–work in Costa Rica) and Josey Pukrop (ANSC–work in Zambia) also received awards but were not able to attend the reception.


In April 2016, the office of International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA) awarded five D. Woods Thomas Memori​al Scholarships​. The memorial scholarship fund was set-up in 1993 by family and friends of Dr. D. Woods Thomas, former Associate Dean and Director of International Programs in Agriculture, to honor him by providing support and encouragement for U.S graduate students doing research or studying in a developing country. Dr. K. G. Raghothama, Interim Director of IPIA, presented award certificates to Jennifer Antonides (FNR); Marcia Croft (HLA); Marieke Fenton (AGEC), Stacy McCoy (AGEC) and Anna Josephson (AGEC) not pictured.​​​​​​​​​​​​​