News

  • Center for Food Safety
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Research
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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.

  • 4-H
  • Cooperative Extension
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Christopher Morgan poses with fellow Master 4-H'ers

Born with autism, 19-year-old Christopher Morgan didn’t speak until he was 4 years old. Today, Morgan is one of 47 Georgia 4-H members who earned the coveted title of “Master 4-H’er” at the annual Georgia 4-H State Congress, held July 26-28 in Atlanta.

State Congress symbolizes the end of a year of hard work and dedication by Georgia 4-H youths. Students select an area of study, give an oral presentation before judges at their respective District Project Achievement (DPA) and participate in service and leadership events in their communities. Regional first place winners compete at the state competition in a variety of categories including history, horses, performing arts, and public speaking. Each student gives a 12-minute presentation before expert judges and prepares a portfolio detailing their research, leadership and service projects.

“It's a great way to make you learn more about what you love to do in life. It also teaches you life skills you will need to use throughout your life,” said Morgan of Warner Robins, Georgia. “For me, District Project Achievement changed my life by helping me win the battle against my autism. I couldn't talk until I was 4 years old, and when I finally was able to talk, I took 12 years of speech therapy to improve my public speaking skills.”

  • Griffin Campus
  • Tifton Campus
  • Cooperative Extension
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Research
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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.

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Turfgrass and Weed Science
  • Griffin Campus
  • Research
  • Cooperative Extension
  • Center for Urban Agriculture
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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.

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Entomology
  • Griffin Campus
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Dr. Kris Braman

Twenty-seven years after joining the faculty as a fledgling researcher, University of Georgia professor Kris Braman has been named the head of the university’s Department of Entomology.

“The entomology department at the University of Georgia is highly ranked and widely recognized for the strength and balance of its programs in core areas,” said Braman, whose appointment was effective July 1.

As the new department head, Braman sees the entomology program continuing to address current and emerging priorities in the discipline in a way that meets the needs of agricultural, urban and industry clientele.

A native of New York state, she earned a undergraduate degree in forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY) and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kentucky.

“All SUNY forestry students were required to take entomology because insects are so important in managing forest health,” she said. “I was hooked for life before I was out of my teens!”

Braman joined the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty in 1989, working on the college’s campus in Griffin, Georgia. Since then she has conducted research on pests and beneficial insects of turfgrasses and ornamentals in urban settings.

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Research
  • Horticulture
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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.

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Young Scholars Program
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UGA CAES Young Scholars pose on a staircase

More than 60 Georgia teenagers spent the better part of their summer working in some of the most prestigious research laboratories at the University of Georgia. For more than two decades, the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Young Scholars’ Program has paired researchers in CAES, the College of Pharmacy, the Warnell School of Forestry and the College of Veterinary Medicine with high school students to foster their love of science and introduce them to the breadth of science that is the foundation of agriculture — Georgia’s largest industry.

“We have students representing high schools from all over the state, including 20 different counties and 34 high schools,” said Victoria David, director of the CAES Office of Diversity Relations. “These students really are the cream of the crop.”

The students worked in some of the most advanced laboratories at UGA in Griffin, Tifton and Athens during the six-week program. They assisted with actual research projects led by UGA faculty, and at the end of the program they presented their findings in a research symposium. Some students may be listed as coauthors on these studies when they are published in academic journals, which is rare for students who have not completed high school.

  • STEM
  • Cooperative Extension
  • Center for Urban Agriculture
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Becky Griffin speaks to a group of teachers

Planting gardens at schools is not a new concept. The school garden movement first took off in 1917 when the U.S. School Garden Army was created with the motto, “A garden for every child, every child in a garden.”

As of late, school gardens have experienced resurgence. A growing number of teachers are embracing school gardens to teach students much more than how to put a seed in the ground, care for it, watch it grow and enjoy the harvest provided by the plant.

Becky Griffin, community and school garden coordinator for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, says school gardens are gaining momentum for several reasons, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education requirements.

“Schools can get a feather in their cap for using their school garden to meet the STEM certification,” Griffin said. “Teachers use their gardens to teach history by growing beans that (Meriwether) Lewis and (William) Clark brought back from their expedition, and they plant colonial gardens filled with crops from the time of George Washington. They also use school gardens to teach math. You use lots of division and recording to plant a garden. Some teachers have the students grow their crops in geometric shapes.”

English teachers use school gardens by reading a book, then planting crops or flowers that were mentioned in the book, Griffin said.

  • Cooperative Extension
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Jeff Miller posing next to a tree

There’s a growing hunger in the Atlanta region for locally grown food, greener gardens, healthier lifestyles and information that makes life simpler.

The good news is that these are all things that the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has been providing the metro Atlanta area for years. The bad news, according to UGA Cooperative Extension’s new Atlanta-region Extension coordinator Jeff Miller, is that very few people know that the resources they need to live a greener, simpler life are available at their local UGA Extension office.

Miller is tasked with organizing the efforts of 18 Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4-H, and Family and Consumer Sciences agents in multiple counties, including their work with other Atlanta-area advocacy groups.

UGA Extension agents are already delivering the content that metro residents want and need, Miller said. He just wants to help them reach more people with that information.

“We’ve got the programming,” Miller explained. “My job is all about collaboration, cooperation and increasing capacity. Those are my roles.”

  • Cooperative Extension
  • Backyard Farming
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Bowl of brown eggs

Raising a flock of backyard chickens ensures that you have a steady supply of fresh eggs. But if you plan to sell those eggs, Georgia law requires the eggs be candled.

“Candling is the age-old method of looking inside an egg — without breaking it open — and figuring out what’s going on inside,” said Brian Maddy, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent in Troup County. “In the days before electricity, candles were used to illuminate the eggs.”

Farmers initially candled eggs to determine if a viable embryo was inside and to check the development of the baby chick, he said.

The procedure also helps farmers determine the quality of the eggs for human consumption. The amount of air inside the shell indicates the egg’s freshness. Looking at the egg’s air cell, the yolk and the albumen, or egg white, determines whether the egg should be graded AA, A, B or inedible.

“Small poultry flocks have become very popular in Georgia, and some backyard farmers are very interested in supplementing their income by selling farm-fresh eggs,” Maddy said.