Research

Researchers with the UGA CAES brought in $69 million in external funding during fiscal year 2016

Posted on
Friday, August 12, 2016
Esther van der Knaap inspects a plant in a UGA greenhouse

Researchers at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences broke records in fiscal year 2016 with $69 million in external funding to fuel college projects.

From research plots across Georgia to state-of-the-art laboratories in Athens, Tifton and Griffin, CAES faculty members use this funding for research to support Georgia’s $74.3 billion agricultural industry and improve the food security and health of people around the world.

“This (achievement) was only possible because of the extraordinary efforts of our dedicated faculty, staff and graduate students,” said Sam Pardue, dean and director of CAES. “We’re proud of their creativity, their hard work and their commitment to identifying solutions to the challenges that face Georgia, our nation and the world.”

CAES’s external research funding totals helped contribute to a record-breaking year for research funding across the university.

In fiscal year 2016, research expenditures at UGA increased by 14 percent to reach $175.3 million. UGA's dramatic increase in fiscal year 2016 comes on the heels of a 7 percent increase in fiscal year 2015 for a 21 percent rise over the past two years.

UGA turfgrass research highlighted at Griffin Campus field day

Posted on
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Clint Waltz speaks to a group at Turfgrass Research Field Day

More than 800 people braved the hot August temperatures for a firsthand glimpse of the latest research by University of Georgia scientists at the Turfgrass Research Field Day held Thursday, Aug. 4, on the UGA campus in Griffin, Georgia.

“UGA serves as the research and education arm for the green industry in this state,” said Clint Waltz, UGA Cooperative Extension turfgrass specialist and one of the organizers of the field day event. “This field day keeps those in the green industry current and provides the continued education they need to remain profitable and able to provide the best quality products for golf courses, commercial lawns, homeowners’ lawns, parks, recreational sports fields and professional sports fields.”

In the morning, green industry professionals rotated through a series of 12-minute talks by scientists from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Topics included the latest research on turfgrass weed management, cultivar development and the application of pesticides while protecting pollinating insects.

Self-guided tours in the afternoon included a demonstration on proper pesticide storage and handling, advice on the best fungicides for turfgrass disease control and sessions led by CAES turfgrass graduate students.

Francisco Diez is new director of UGA Center for Food Safety

Posted on
Friday, August 5, 2016
Dr. Francisco Diez Gonzalez

For years, food scientist Francisco Diez studied and admired the work of University of Georgia Regents’ Professor Mike Doyle, but the two researchers’ paths never crossed. For the next year, they will work closely together as Diez transitions into Doyle’s role as director of the UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Georgia. Doyle, a leading authority on foodborne pathogens, came to the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 1991 to establish the center. As director, he developed a research program that promotes collaboration among the food industry, the university, and federal and state agencies.

A native of Mexico, Diez earned a bachelor’s degree in food technology from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, and completed master’s and doctoral degrees in food science at Cornell University in New York. He comes to UGA from the University of Minnesota, where he was a faculty member and head of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. His research focuses on the family of pathogens known as enterohemorrhagic E. coli, an important cause of food contamination and foodborne illness.

Upcoming field day to showcase UGA research

Posted on
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Tim Grey speaks during the Plains field day held in 2014

An upcoming field day on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the University of Georgia Southwest Georgia Research and Education Center (SWERC) in Plains, Georgia, will showcase cutting-edge agriculture research to farmers, UGA Cooperative Extension county agents and industry personnel.

Scientists representing UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the Tifton and Griffin campuses will be discussing projects on Georgia's high-value agricultural crops, such as cotton, peanuts, corn and sorghum.

“This field day is important because the local farmers, agricultural businessmen and county Extension agents get a chance to see, firsthand, the research conducted here and talk with the specialists who will be speaking about their research,” said Stan Jones, SWERC superintendent.

The field day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with opening remarks from Jones and Joe West, assistant dean of the UGA Tifton Campus, who also oversees the SWREC in Plains. The program, which will conclude at noon, will include remarks from UGA scientists regarding insect management, fungicide treatments and statewide variety testing in cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

UGA turfgrass research field day just weeks away

Posted on
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
A herbicide trial on the turfgrass research plots at UGA-Griffin

Whether you're a homeowner, new landscape company owner or a veteran golf course superintendent, you'll find the latest research-based information on growing and maintaining turfgrass at the University of Georgia Turfgrass Research Field Day.

Registration starts at 8 a.m. on Aug. 4 and tours begin at 9:15 a.m. and conclude at 2:30 p.m. The daylong event will be held rain or shine on the turfgrass research plots at the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga.

Residential and commercial lawn topics

UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers and Extension specialists will present the latest information on how to care for residential lawns, commercial golf courses, athletic fields and any other space covered with turfgrass. Field day topics will include how to control weeds, insects and diseases, managing seed heads, heat and drought tolerance and an update on the UGA turfgrass breeding programs.

Guided tours will be offered in Spanish for Spanish-speaking attendees.

The field day is certified for private and commercial pesticide recertification credits in Georgia and neighboring states. A license number is required to receive the field day credits.

A catered BBQ lunch will be followed by displays and demonstrations of the latest turfgrass industry equipment. The self-guided portion of the research tour begins at 1:15 p.m.

New generation of researchers helps peach growers and consumers

Posted on
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Dario Chavez with a pickup truck full of peaches

Two years into the job, University of Georgia peach specialist Dario Chavez is pleased with the development of his research program. The new research peach orchard in Griffin, Georgia, is filled with over 130 different peach tree varieties, several newly grafted potential varieties and a host of trees for irrigation and fertilization studies, all in an effort to help growers of the crop that gave Georgia its nickname — the “Peach State.”

In addition to the new orchard in Griffin, Chavez travels to Bryon, Georgia, to work with U.S. Department of Agriculture rootstock breeder Tom Beckman and to meet with Georgia peach growers. There are currently more than 10,000 acres of Georgia land devoted to growing peaches, and Georgia ranks third in U.S. production of the fruit.

“At the end of the day, the growers are comfortable with what they are doing,” Chavez said. “They are planting new orchards every year and it’s a stable production system. They are making money and supporting the economy.”

Chavez says Georgia peach growers offer a “really high quality” peach and are typically second- and third-generation farmers. “There’s a lot of tradition and a large knowledge base in growing Georgia peaches,” he said.

UGA FoodPIC a valuable tool in Georgia’s economic development efforts

Posted on
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Rendering of the FoodPIC building being built on the UGA campus in Griffin

Tucked into a corner of the University of Georgia’s campus in Griffin, Georgia, FoodPIC is an innovative research center that could be a key component in bringing business and industry to the state. UGA’s Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC) is already a valuable asset to Sean McMillan, UGA’s Atlanta-based economic development director, when he meets with companies interested in moving to Georgia. There are only 13 similar facilities in the U.S., the closest in North Carolina and Tennessee.

“If we’re competing with a state that doesn’t have something like this, we have an advantage,” said McMillan. “It’s an asset and we’re communicating that to companies that are looking to expand their existing operations or establish a presence here.”

FoodPIC, which will soon occupy a new 14,500-square-foot facility in Griffin, assists companies in developing new food products efficiently and economically. Faculty in the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology, part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, initiated the center.

Among the products in development are nut milks, hot sauces and meat rubs. Faculty members are also exploring blueberry wine and carbonated yogurt, and studying the shelf life of these and other novel food products.

New UGA urban agriculture training coordinator is a landscape architect with a passion for teaching

Posted on
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Greg Huber in front of the Urban Ag building

Georgia registered landscape architect Greg Huber has joined the staff of the University of Georgia Griffin Campus as the training coordinator for the Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture.

Huber comes to UGA after spending the past 10 years as program coordinator, lead instructor and adviser for the horticulture program at Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin, Georgia. Many of his former students are employed in Georgia’s green industry — which encompasses landscaping, lawn maintenance and horticulture — and will likely attend the Georgia Certified Landscape Professional (GCLP) and Georgia Certified Plant Professional programs he now leads.  

“I am thrilled to welcome Greg as our newest member of the Center for Urban Agriculture team. Our programs and clientele will certainly benefit from his unique areas of expertise, experience and the energy he brings to every initiative,” said Kris Braman, director of the center and entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

A native of Suwanee, Georgia, Huber’s first experience working in the green industry was at a Christmas tree farm. “While in high school, I spent summer and winter breaks at the tree farm,” he said. “I planted, pruned and fertilized during summers and assisted customers with harvesting, shaking and loading trees during the holidays. I discovered that I really enjoyed working outside.”

Fighting foodborne illness outbreaks

Posted on
Friday, January 8, 2016
Dr. Larry Beuchat examines a sample in a lab at UGA-Griffin

Researchers at the University of Georgia found that pathogens, like salmonella, can survive for at least six months in cookies and crackers. The recent study was prompted by an increased number of outbreaks of foodborne diseases linked to low-water-activity, or dry, foods. Larry Beuchat (pictured left), a Distinguished Professor Emeritus and researcher in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, led a study to see just how long bacteria that cause foodborne illness can survive in certain foods.

“There have been an increased number of outbreaks of diseases associated with consumption of contaminated dry foods. We wouldn’t expect salmonella to grow in foods that have a very dry environment,” said Beuchat, who works with the Center for Food Safety on the UGA campus in Griffin.

Beuchat and study co-author David Mann, a research professional in the center, found that not only can harmful bacteria survive in dry foods, like cookie and cracker sandwiches, but they can also live for long periods of time.

For the recent study, published in the Journal of Food Protection, researchers used five different serotypes of salmonella that had been isolated from foods involved in previous foodborne outbreaks. “Isolates were from foods with very low moisture content,” Beuchat said.

Wheat breeder Jerry Johnson receives 2015 UGA Inventor’s Award

Posted on
Monday, November 30, 2015
Jerry Johnson holding wheat

As a young man working on his family’s farm in Perry, Georgia, Jerry Johnson loved the sight of wheat growing in the fields. Decades later, Johnson, now a respected plant breeder and crop and soil sciences professor, received the 2015 Inventor’s Award from the University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGARF) for his work breeding wheat varieties for farmers in Georgia and across the Southeast. “I grew a lot of wheat and soybeans with my father and my uncle. I always thought the wheat was pretty growing in the fields during the wintertime, when everything else is brown and there are no leaves on the trees,” he said.

Johnson attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and UGA, completing his undergraduate degree in agronomy. While at UGA, he worked with Morris Bitzer in Bitzer’s wheat breeding program before accepting an assistantship at Purdue University. There, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in plant breeding and genetics. He served as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland before returning home to Georgia in 1977 to teach and conduct research at UGA’s campus in Griffin, Georgia.

Thirty-eight years later, Johnson has produced close to 50 wheat varieties. Throughout his career, he made at least 1,000 wheat crosses annually, which led to an average of two new wheat varieties each year. “I’ve been fortunate that, in some years, we released three or four (new varieties) and, in some years, none,” he said.