UF will be offering fellowships to eight veterinarians in the field of aquaculture with the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The department awarded UF a three-year, $225,643 grant in late 2017 to provide fellowships to eight veterinarians working with aquaculture businesses and farms in rural communities across the country, said Ruth Francis-Floyd, a professor in the department of large animal clinical sciences.

Aquaculture consists of managing the production and population of fish and other aquatic species for food, said Craig Watson, director of UF Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory.

It is a growing industry in the U.S.

Those who are chosen for the fellowship will receive a $5,000 stipend, Watson said. They will work remotely around the country on farms and aquaculture businesses. They’ll also take classes at the same time and receive on-site training.

Potential candidates will have until June 1 to apply to the program. Francis-Floyd said they hope to notify the selected participants by early July and begin training in August.

Francis-Floyd said UF is looking nationally for candidates who have graduated within the last five years.

“The ideal applicant will have some sort of working relationship with an aquaculture company,” Francis-Floyd said. “We feel like our strongest candidates will have taken the initiative to have developed those kinds of relationships already.”

This grant is a collaboration among the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and USDA, Francis-Floyd said. They are developing two-year programs for practicing veterinarians to get additional training so they can better serve aquaculture businesses.

Watson said the aquaculture field is diverse, and the range of organisms farmed includes everything from alligators to shellfish to algae.

The ultimate goal would be to have eight students from eight separate regions with eight different primary commodities being grown, he said.

“The University of Florida is becoming a powerhouse when it comes to aquatic animal health,” he said.