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Two Horticulture Faculty Recognized For Outstanding Teaching

Dr. Paul Thomas and Dr. Tim Smalley were both recently recognized by the University of Georgia with 2018 Outstanding Teaching Faculty Awards at this year’s Faculty Recognition Banquet.  The Horticulture Department was represented with two out of the six in the college awards, including including Dr. Maria Navarro, Dr. Marianne Shockley, Dr. Kylee Jo Duberstein and Dr. Brian H Kiepper. The banquet was held at the Continuing Education Center on April 16th and included a nice dinner with the Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Dr. Samuel Pardue.

Dr. Marc van Iersel’s startup company featured in UGA’s Columns newspaper

Marc van Iersel and Erico Mattos discuss ongoing supplemental lighting research.

Marc van Iersel and Erico Mattos discuss ongoing supplemental lighting research. Picture by Dorothy Kozlowski, University of Georgia.

Candidus Inc., a company co-founded by Drs. Marc van Iersel and Erico Mattos was featured in UGA’s columns newspaper and on-line. The story discusses the role of UGA’s Innovation Gateway in helping to get Candidus, Inc. off the ground. Innovation Gateway focuses on transferring technologies developed at UGA into the marketplace. Candidus, Inc. was founded to commercialize ‘smart’ supplemental lighting control systems, developed in Dr. van Iersel’s Horticultural Physiology Laboratory. The research that led to the development of the technology and founding of Candidus, Inc. was funded by the Georgia Research Alliance, with help from Innovation Gateway.

You can read the full story here:

Innovation Gateway transitions technologies into products

“Without Innovation Gateway, this would have just been a really cool idea and a bunch of academic papers.” — Marc van Iersel

Horticulture Graduate Students Receive Research Awards

Congratulations to UGA Hort students Geoffrey Weaver, Connor Ryan and Kaitlin Barrios whom took 3 out of the 5 competition awards during the Bryson James Student Research Competition. Here is the press release from Nursery Management magazine:

Atlanta, Ga. – Five students from two universities were presented cash awards totaling $1,800 for their presentations at the Bryson L. James Student Competition. The competition took place during the 62nd SNA Research Conference, and the awards were presented on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at the Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Md.

The competition, sponsored by Bennett’s Creek Wholesale Nursery and Lancaster Farms, is named in honor of Dr. Bryson L. James, McMinnville, Tenn., a researcher and consultant who served as SNA Director of Research for more than 30 years. Any student of a university or college having researchers that participate in the Southern Nursery Association Research Conference and not more than a one academic year has passed since their graduation and whose research was completed prior to graduation can participate in the competition. Judging is based on paper preparation and oral presentation. The competition is divided into three categories of Ph.D., M.S., and B.S.

First place winners of $500 each included:
Geoffrey Weaver, University of Georgia (Ph.D.)
Title: Modeling energy-efficient lighting strategies for petunia and impatiens using chlorophyll fluorescence and historical weather data

Connor Ryan, University of Georgia (M.S.)
Title: Susceptability of Sarcococca Taxa to Boxwood Blight Caused by Calonextria pseudonaviculata

Second place winners of $300 each included:
Md Niamul Kibir, Tennessee State University (Ph.D.)
Title: Effect of fungicides and biorational products on Phytophthora root rot of hydrangea cultivars

Matthew Brown, Tennessee State University (M.S.)
Title: Evaluation of fungicides and biofungicides for control of Phytophthora cinnamomi on flood-stressed flowering dogwoods

Third place winners of $200 each included:
Kaitlin Barrios, University of Georgia (Ph.D.)
Title: Mutagenesis of Illicium parviflorum for Novel Phenotypes

In addition to the cash awards for excellence in written and oral presentations for their respective research projects, each student was presented with a plaque.

Outstanding representation Hort Dawgs!

Photo courtesy SNA. 2018 Bryson L. James Student Competition Awards Winners pictured from left to right: Geoffrey Weaver, Md Niamul Kibir, Kaitlin Barrios, Connor Ryan, and Matthew Brown

Hort Faculty Receive Publication Awards from SR-ASHS


Congratulations  are in order for eight of our faculty for being awarded a total of five outstanding Extension publication awards they authored and published in 2017.  The recognitions were presented at the Southern Region meeting of the American Society for Horticultural Science.  Dr. Tim Coolong, Dr. George Boyhan, Dr. Susanne Stone, Dr. Pam Knox, Dr. Erick Smith, and Dr. Bodie Pennisi each received one award and Dr. Matthew Chappell received two Extension Blue Ribbon Awards!  Dr. Bodie Pennisi was voted In as President Elect for the 2019 SR-ASHS Presidency also. The annual meeting this year was held in Jacksonville Florida.  UGA swept five publication categories this year and will have a Hort faculty member as President. Well done colleagues!

Van Iersel Awarded the 2018 Porter Henegar Memorial Award by SNA Board

Dr. Marc van Iersel, Professor, University of Georgia, Athens Campus, has been named the 2018 recipient of the Porter Henegar Memorial Award!!!

Marc van Iersel was born in the Netherlands and exposed to horticulture at a young age, playing in his grandfather’s flower shop and greenhouses. He studied horticulture in the Netherlands, where he received his MS degree in 1989. He then came to the US and received his PhD from the University of Arkansas in 1994. He has been with horticulture department of the University of Geor­gia since 1995, where he now holds the Dooley professorship.

His current research focuses on cost-effective supplemental lighting technologies in greenhouses and vertical farms. He does so by studying plant physiological responses to different light intensities and spectra. The goal is to develop crop-specific, cost-effective lighting protocols. Past research focused on efficient irrigation and fertilization in the production of ornamental plants. He has pub­lished 120+ scientific papers and has given invited lectures about his research around the world, including in Italy, Spain, Taiwan, Kenya, Canada, Chile, and Brazil.

In 1969, an Award of Merit was created to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to ornamental horticultural research and, more specifically, to SNA. In 1972, the SNA Board of Directors resolved that the Award of Merit would be renamed the Porter Henegar Memorial Award for Horticultural Research in memory of the late Porter Henegar, Past Executive Secretary of SNA (1959 – 1972), to commemorate his years of tireless effort and service to the SNA. The recipient is selected annually by fellow research workers for his/her concern and work toward improving the nursery industry

The SNA Board of Directors also honors individuals that have served this association and the nursery industry in various capacities throughout the years and have made outstanding contributions during their active participation in the Southern Nursery Association with honorary membership awards. This year, one deserving industry member has been selected to receive an SNA Honorary Member Award. He has, no doubt, made outstanding contributions to the association and the

indus­try during his participation in the Southern Nursery Association.

Congratulations Dr. van Iersel!


Horticulture Department Head Position Announced

Professor and Department Head, Horticulture Position Announced.

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences seeks candidates for the position of professor and head of the Department of Horticulture. This is a 12-month, tenure-track position. The successful candidate will be expected to administer and coordinate high-quality teaching, research and Extension programs while playing a proactive role in increasing extramural support for these programs. Specific responsibilities include faculty recruitment, management and leadership; student recruitment; faculty performance evaluations; the coordination of promotion and tenure procedures; program planning and implementation; budget management; and management of physical facilities, including both laboratory and field facilities. The individual will also work effectively with faculty, representing the department among university and agency administrators, industry clientele, and state and federal personnel. The department head (or their designee) has oversight over field units supporting research, teaching and outreach.

Minimum Qualifications
• A doctorate in horticulture, plant biology or related
biological sciences, with demonstrated excellence in
teaching, research and/or extension.
• The successful applicant must qualify for the rank
of professor.
Preferred Qualifications
• Higher education administrative experience.
• Evidence of creative and innovative leadership.
• Demonstrated success in procuring extramural funding.
• Ability to work effectively with faculty, staff and students.
• A demonstrated commitment to diversity.

Applications received by February 1, 2018, will be assured
full consideration; however, screening will continue until the
position is filled. Applicants should submit documentation
electronically at
To apply, submit: (1) a formal letter stating the applicant’s
qualifications for the position and a statement of leadership
philosophy; (2) a current resume that includes a list of
publications; and (3) a list of four references with contact
information including email addresses. References will
not be contacted without further communication with the
applicant. Salary is commensurate with qualifications, and a
comprehensive benefits package is included.
The Department of Horticulture
Research, teaching and Extension faculty (32), students
(30 graduate, 61 undergraduate and 21 organic agriculture
certificate program) and staff (45) are located on the
Athens, Tifton and Griffin campuses. Through research and
Extension, the department supports Georgia’s large and
diverse horticulture industry, which has a farmgate value of
$1.4 billion. Departmental programs include plant breeding,
genetics and genomics; plant physiology; postharvest biology;
plant production management; resource management; and
native plant conservation. Faculty members work on a vast
array of fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, herbs, medicinal
plants, endangered native species and row crops.
Outstanding graduate programs leading to either master’s or
doctoral degrees are supported by a large graduate faculty
with diverse research programs and broad disciplinary
expertise. The department hosts a large Extension program
focused on applied research to address the needs of farmers
and the public in Georgia and worldwide.

The University of Georgia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin,
sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or protected veteran status.

Here is the link to the Application Site…

For more information, visit
Nominations are encouraged and accepted. All nominations and inquiries should be directed to Search Committee
Chair and Department of Entomology Head Kris Braman at or (706) 542-2816.


Horticulture Major Ruqayah Bhuiyan Accepts Internship With NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Horticulture Major Ruqayah Bhuiyan Accepts Internship With NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Ruqayah Bhuiyan, Horticulture major and current Tau Chapter President of PAX, has been accepted into the NASA Internship Program at the Kennedy Space Center!!! This is a very competitive six-month paid internship beginning in January. “The goal of this research is to develop optimized food crop growth systems for future NASA exploration missions. Researchers may investigate plant growth responses to LED lighting, nutrient recipes, and water delivery methods for application in microgravity. New crops for space will be tested. Research may also address plant/microbial interactions and food safety implications. Other research areas that may be involved include chemical analysis, bioinformatics, robotics, 3-D printing, and sensors for control systems. Projects will utilize controlled environmental conditions and hardware relevant to NASA’s Veggie and Advanced Plant Habitat growth chambers for the International Space Station and future food production systems.” What a great opportunity. Well done Ruqayah! 

Todd Hurt Recieves Honorary American FFA Degree

Although Todd Hurt is not a member of the Horticulture Department, we consider him an adopted member and are pleased to announce that he was recently selected to receive the Honorary American FFA Degree.

This award is given to those who advance agricultural education and FFA through outstanding personalcommitment. The National FFA Organization works to enhance the lives of youth through agricultural education.Without the efforts of highly dedicated individuals, thousands of young people would not be able to achieve success that, in turn, contributes directly to the overall well-being of the nation.

The Honorary American FFA Degree is an opportunity to recognize those who have gone beyond valuable daily contributions to make an extraordinary long-term difference in the lives of students, inspiring confidencein a new generation of agriculturists.

Members of the National FFA Organization’s board of directors approved the nomination.

Todd is extremely deserving as he worked with the Georgia Green Industry Association and the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture to develop the GA Certified Plant Professional and GA Certified Landscape Professional programs. As a result, he will receive the award at the 2017 National FFA Convention & Expo during an onstage ceremony on Friday, Oct. 27 in Indianapolis, All recipients will receive a certificate and medal and their names will be permanently recorded.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

2017 Ornamental Horticulture Research Field Day – Friday, October 6

1221 Hog Mountain Road Watkinsville, GA 30677

Friday, October 6, 2017

9:00 am to 1:00 pm

(Registration starts at 8:30am)


Register Here:


Have you ever wondered what is going on at UGA’s Durham Horticulture Farm? The faculty and staff of the Department of Horticulture at The University of Georgia would like to fill you in and invite you to attend their biennial Horticulture Research Field Day at the UGA Horticulture Farm in Watkinsville, Georgia.  Faculty will be stationed throughout the farm to discuss their research projects.  This year, we will have 7 researchers presenting projects taking place at the farm. Topics will include landscape plant establishment, ornamental plant breeding, sustainable vegetable production, and pollinator health. While you’re in the area, you won’t want to miss seeing the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Trial Gardens at UGA.  Directions to these locations will be provided at the Open House.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and tours start promptly at 9:00 a.m. rain or shine.  Dress appropriate for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes.


In addition to the open house, a free light lunch will be provided for participants after the tours end. This year’s event is limited to 200 persons, so early registration is encouraged.

For more information, phone 706/542-9044 or 706/542-2471

Sponsored by The Georgia Green Industry Association 

2017 Horticulture Farm Open House – Speakers and Topics

Using Trap Crops in Vegetable Production

Bob Westerfield, Senior Public Service Associate

Using trap crops can be an effective way to pull damaging insects away from our desirable produce. Once trap crops are inundated with damaging insects they can be sprayed to knock down the population of the pests. We will cover the effectiveness of this method of insect control as well as other cultural practices to control insects in the garden for homeowners as well as small market producers.


Ornamental Breeding from Abutilon to Thuja

John Ruter, Professor & Kaitlin Barrios, PhD Candidate

Dr. John Ruter will discuss new selections from his ornamental breeding program which spans from Abutilon to Thuja. His doctoral student Kaitlin Barrios will discuss her breeding work with hardy hibiscus which includes interspecific hybrids and breeding for insect resistance and improved flowering and foliage.


The Georgia Pollinator Spaces Project and Pollinator Census

Becky Griffin, UGA Center for Urban Agriculture Community & School Garden Coordinator

Plants use a variety of characteristics such as color, shape, and odor to lure pollinator and beneficial insect flower visitors including bees, butterflies, flies, and beetles. Through research conducted at the UGA Butterfly and Conservation Garden in Griffin, Georgia, certain ornamental floral resources deemed appropriate for southeastern landscapes were found to attract a variety of potential beneficial arthropods to the ornamental beds and plantings.


Breeding New Cultivars for Landscapes

Carol Robacker, Associate Professor

An update will be provided on our breeding program at the UGA Urban Agriculture Research Station in Griffin, GA; specifically, our efforts with woodies and herbaceous plants. Promising new selections and potential cultivars of little bluestem, vitex, abelia and spigelia will be highlighted.


New Woody Ornamentals for your Garden

Donglin Zhang, Professor

After returning to UGA (from the University of Maine) for the last 5 years, Dr. Donglin Zhang and his lab crew have established a fully functional woody plant research laboratory and field breeding and selection program. As part of the field day events, the lab crew will share with you new woody ornamental plants for Georgia and adjacent states. Want to know how these new plants are bred? Come and find out!


Boxwood, Pruning, and Biochar Source Research Update

Tim Smalley, Associate Professor

Dr. Smalley will relate the results of his studies on rejuvenation pruning, amending annual planting beds with Biochar Source, and the effects of soil pH, mulching, and irrigation on growth and disease incidence of Buxus sempervirens‘Suffruticosa’.


An Update on American Chestnut Research

Ryan McNeill, PhD Student

Did you know that UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources as well as the UGA Horticulture Department are part of the international effort to bring back the American Chestnut? Ryan will update you on the overall progress on reintroduction of the American Chestnut as well as what we at UGA are doing to aide in the process.


Effect of Nectar Sugar Composition on Pollination

Bethany Harris, PhD Student

Salvia is considered a primary pollinator attractor genus. However, nectar sugar composition and attractivenss to pollinators of certain Salvia cultivars has not previously been determined. Salvia ‘Radio Red’ had the highest sucrose content and the flower number, however, pollinator and beneficial insect visitation was lower. S. ‘Black and Blue’, S. ’Blaze’, and S. ’Blast’ had the greatest abundance and diversity of arthropods.




Marc van Iersel named Dooley Professor

Dr. Marc van Iersel, the new Dooley professor

Marc van Iersel has been named the ‘Dooley Professor’ in the Department of Horticulture. The Vincent J. Dooley professorship was established by the UGA athletic foundation in honor of former UGA football coach and athletic director Vince ‘Coach’ Dooley. Coach Dooley is an avid gardener and supporter of the horticulture department. This endowed chair is awarded to a faculty member with ‘an outstanding national reputation in the area of Ornamental Horticulture’. Dr. Marc van Iersel is excited to receive this honor. The funds associated with this endowed position will be used to strengthen his research into optimal lighting strategies in greenhouses and vertical farms and to enrich the experience of the graduate students who work in his research group.