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Four Department Students Recieve Prestigeous Sidney B. Meadows Scholarships

The Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Fund has announced the names of twelve students from several southeastern universities chosen to receive academic scholarships this year.   In the Undergraduate category, the UGA Hort Department had two out of the six awardees.  Ruqayah Bhuiyan and Michael Delvalle each received one of the $1500.00 scholarships.  In the Graduate Student category, two of the six  scholarships were awarded to Susan Hawkins, and Bethany Harris, both graduate students on the Griffin campus.

Scholarship recipients are determined through a competitive application process, administered by a selection committee, based on academics, determination, demonstrated interest in the horticulture industry, and financial need. This year’s recipients were chosen from the largest number of applications ever received. Created in 1989 by the Southern Nursery Association (SNA), The Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund is a 501 (c) 3 corporation providing scholarships to students who are residents of the sixteen southeastern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia – pursuing a career in horticulture. The scholarship is dedicated to one of the most honored horticultural leaders, the late Sidney B. Meadows, who was an avid supporter of student scholarships and believed that providing aid for students was an important way to ensure the growth and development of all facets of the industry.

UGA Research Leader’s Work on Tomato Genome Featured in PLOSbgenetics!

Dr. Esther van der Knapp, Professor in the Department of Horticulture and the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies, Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics & Genomics and her team of scientists from UGA and The Ohio State University have recent had their work on Cell size regulation published in PLOS genetics, a very prestigious genomic science journal.  According to the research summary:  “Starting about 10,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period, human societies began the transformation from a hunting and gathering-dependent lifestyle to an agrarian lifestyle. This transformation was accompanied by plant and animal domestication. Tomato shows a huge increase in fruit weight that has arisen as a consequence of its domestication. We identified a gene that encodes a poorly characterized protein that controls fruit weight in tomato. The mutation that led to the increase in fruit weight arose early during the cultivation of tomato and is now incorporated in all large tomato varieties. The gene regulates cell size in the fruit and is called Cell Size Regulator. The increases in cell size are proposed to relate to cellular maturation that accompanies fruit growth.”

To see the actual publication, follow the link provided below:

Fruit weight is controlled by Cell Size Regulator encoding a novel protein that is expressed in maturing tomato fruits.  Qi Mu , Zejun Huang, Manohar Chakrabarti, Eudald Illa-Berenguer, Xiaoxi Liu, Yanping Wang, Alexis Ramos, and  Esther van der Knaap. 2017  PLOS Gen 13(8) e1006930.

UGA Horticulture Major Michael DelValle Receives the 2017 Hammer Scholarship

Dr. P. Allen Hammer Scholarship is awarded to Michael Del Valle of University of Georgia

Dümmen Orange announces inaugural scholarship recipient at Cultivate’17


Columbus, OH, July 25, 2017 – The first-ever recipient of the Dr. P. Allen Hammer Scholarship was announced as Michael Del Valle, Jr., an undergraduate student studying horticulture at the University of Georgia. The $5,000 award is presented in recognition of exemplary academic achievement in the field of horticulture, and is intended to support the next generation of floriculture students towards the completion of their horticulture-related academic pursuits.

The scholarship, founded in 2016 by Dümmen Orange in acknowledgement of the contributions Dr. P. Allen Hammer has made to the floriculture industry, was awarded based on a variety of indicators. “We selected Michael for his academic performance, floriculture experience, UGA Horticulture Club participation, Pi Alpha Xi National Honor Society membership and career goals, all of which aligned with the intent of the scholarship to support an outstanding university student in the field of floriculture,” says Dr. Hammer, who adds that it was an honor to congratulate Michael on this achievement. “I sincerely hope this award makes his senior year at UGA just a little easier, allowing him to focus on his education and preparing him to join the industry as a respected and successful professional.”

Michael, who is working at the UGA Horticulture Research Farm for the summer, plans to find a job in either a local production facility or garden center after graduation. “Ultimately, I would like to purchase land and begin a fresh cut-flower growing operation,” he shares. “I am so honored to have been chosen as the first recipient of the Dr. P. Allen Hammer Scholarship. The news of this great achievement could not have come at a more opportune time in my life as I’m finishing up my final year in college and preparing for the financial responsibilities that will come post-graduation. I cannot thank the committee at Dümmen Orange enough for their generosity.”

For more information:

For more information, contact Dümmen Orange at or (614) 850-9551.


Gray Simpson Named 2017 ASHS Horticulture Scholar

Congratulations are in order for recently graduated Horticulture major Gray Simpson, one of two students selected nationally as a 2017 American Society for Horticultural Science “Scholar.”  The ASHS Scholars Award was established by the ASHS Board of Directors for the purpose of recognizing and supporting scholastic achievement and to encourage career development in horticultural science at the undergraduate level. The award comes with a scholarship. Gray is currently in Costa Rica working as a sustainable agriculture program leader at the UGA Eco Lodge, San Luis, CR.    Outstanding representation Gray!

Jesse Lafian receives scholarship from the landscape Architecture Foundation

Jesse Lafian

Jesse Lafian

Jesse Lafian received the ‘2017 Rain Bird Intelligent Use of Water Scholarship’ from the  Landscape Architecture Foundation. Jesse Lafian is a senior Horticulture student at the University of Georgia (UGA) and the founder of Reservoir, a startup company that is developing a patent-pending tensiometer that can measure how much water in the soil is available to plants. This technology will help landscapers and farmers conserve water, reduce agro-chemical pollution, and increase profits by improving irrigation management. Jesse has raised $13,500 from grants and built a small-scale laboratory prototype with his mentor Dr. Marc van Iersel, a UGA Horticulture Professor and irrigation-sensor expert. In addition to this scholarship, Jesse has recently won the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences ‘Fabricate’ entrepreneur competition as well as the ‘Next Top Entrepreneur’ competition organized by the Terry College of Business.  Jesse plans to secure more funding to complete R&D on the tensiometer after his upcoming graduation. Aside from school and work, he enjoys drumming, hiking, and riding his 1980 Kawasaki motorcycle.



David Berle named Outstanding Practitioner of the Year by Gulf-South Summit

Our own industrious colleague, David Berle, associate professor of horticulture and director of the UGArden, has been named the 2017 Service-Learning Practitioner of the Year by the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement through Higher Education. This award recognizes Berle’s sustained record of engaging students in community-based learning through service-learning projects and courses, as well as his development and leadership of the student-run UGArden, and his role in supporting the institutionalization of service-learning at UGA. Berle was recognized with a plaque and cash award at the Summit in Greensboro, NC in March.  If you are visiting campus for graduation or campus orientation visits, stop by the UGArden to see the amazing things happening there. 2500 South Milledge Ave, Athens, GA. just past the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia.

Photo: David Berle (R) accepting the award from Gulf-South Summit awards chair Kristin Harper.(L).

PhD student Shuyang Zhen’s research highlighted on ISHS website

Shuyang, collecting data in the greenhouse

PhD student Shuyang Zhen’s research on the effects of far-red light on photosynthetic efficiency is highlighted on the website of the International Society for Horticultural Science. Shuyang presented some of her research on this topic at the 2016 ISHS lighting symposium in East Lansing, MI, where she won the student competition. Her work has shown that plants can use light from LEDs more efficiently if the light is supplemented with far-red light and has important practical applications for the design of grow lights. She works in the horticultural physiology lab under the guidance of Dr. Marc van Iersel. Great work done by a great student!

Horticulture senior Jesse Lafian wins CAES entrepreneurship competition


UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Joe Broder congratulates fourth-year horticulture student Jesse Lafian, whose smart irrigation business, Reservoir, won the grand prize in CAES’s inaugural FABricate entrepreneurship competition.

Jesse Lafian, a senior undergraduate in the horticulture department, won the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Fabricate entrepreneurship competition. Jesse has been working a novel type of soil moisture sensor that can help farmers and landscapers track the irrigation needs of their plants. The ultimate goal is to integrate the soil moisture sensor with an irrigation controller, so that plants can be irrigated automatically when needed. He plans to bring this product to market through his company Reservoir, LLC.

Dr. Marc van Iersel has served as one of Jesse’s mentor and the horticultural physiology lab has helped him with testing prototypes of the irrigation controller.

Great job, Jesse!


For the full story, see this link.