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CAES Research

Research Newsletter: FALL 2013


Harald SchermHarald Scherm, Assistant Dean for Research, 706/542-2151,

Feedback received in response to the first CAES Research Newsletter, published last fall, has been positive, so we will continue to provide regular updates with information about the CAES research enterprise that should be of interest to our scientists and graduate students.

We envisioned the Newsletter to appear on a semi-annual cycle, but unfortunately time slipped away from me during Spring Semester, and at some point it made more sense to wait until the end of the fiscal year instead of publishing a Newsletter in late spring. We are particularly proud of the new faculty members we have been able to hire in FY13, the success of our graduate students, and the record licensing income received from variety and plant germplasm development in the CAES.

On the other hand, external grant funding obtained this past year has not been as strong as during the record year of FY12, although some individual programs have done very well in FY13. There are many explanations for this, but it is clear that we have to do better this year. The CAES Strategic Plan Action Teams have provided recommendations on how to enhance grantsmanship across the college, and these recommendations are currently being reviewed.

In the meantime, the CAES grants support team, consisting of the Grants Coordinator, the respective Assistant Deans, and the CAES Sponsored Programs Office are ready to assist faculty members with all aspects of proposal development for external funding. Please contact us at if we can be of help.


Faculty news

New Faculty Members

The following new faculty members having AES appointments were hired between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.

Ali Missaoui

Ali MissaouiCrop and Soil Sciences, Assistant Professor

Ali Missaoui received his bachelor's degree in Rangeland Resources from Oregon State University and Master's degree in crop science from Texas Tech University. He obtained his doctoral degree in plant breeding and genomics from UGA in 2003 and received postdoctoral training in soybean molecular breeding, also at UGA.

Missaoui worked as a Discovery Breeder at Monsanto for 7 years focusing on developing molecular and conventional approaches to improve capturing genetic diversity and maximize the efficiency of germplasm enhancement and breeding.

He was appointed at UGA as an assistant professor in January 2013 to lead the forage and biomass breeding and genetics program and help meet teaching needs in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the Institute of Plant Breeding Genetics and Genomics.

His research focuses on breeding and applied genetic research of cool-season forage grasses and legumes. He integrates conventional breeding methods with molecular technologies to development cultivars that provide stable forages and contribute to the sustainability of grazing systems in Georgia and the Southeast.

Another research interest, in addition to the traditional forages as animal feed, is the evaluation of perennial grasses as feedstocks and the development of germplasm with improved suitability for use as biofuel.

Dory Franklin

Dory FranklinCrop and Soil Sciences, Associate Professor

Dory Franklin earned her doctorate in agronomy from UGA in 2000 and previously worked as a research scientist with USDA-ARS at the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center in Watkinsville, where she studied sustainable nutrient management and water quality.

Her research included studies in preferential flow paths through the soil profile as well as nutrient movement across the landscape. She conducted rainfall simulations to determine management impacts on nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon losses in runoff.

Franklin has also studied the impact of management, soil and geomorphology on distributions of stream nutrients and improving nutrient uptake and use.

While with USDA, she implemented a participatory water quality program with local producers, educators and researchers in both Georgia and North Carolina to determine which management practices are working for the environment and for producers.

Her recent efforts have focused on climate change and extreme weather, on cover crops to recycle nutrients and on using global positioning systems to improve grazing operations. Franklin is currently focused on practices that can effectively manage nutrients in crop and forage systems for productive healthy soils and clean water.

Nicholas Magnan

Nicholas MagnanAgricultural and Applied Economics, Assistant Professor

Nick Magnan joined the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in August 2012. His research focuses on agricultural technology adoption and natural resource use, primarily in developing countries.

He is especially interested in the inter- and intra-household processes that affect these outcomes such as diffusion of information through social networks and bargaining between spouses. He has done fieldwork in India and Morocco, and has ongoing projects in southern and eastern Africa and Bangladesh.

Nick earned his bachelor's degree in biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He then received his master's degree in agricultural and resource economics from Colorado State University and his doctorate in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Davis. Before joining the faculty at UGA he was a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC.

Scott Shonkwiler

Scott ShonkwilerAgricultural and Applied Economics, Professor

J. Scott Shonkwiler grew up on farms in central Illinois and southwest Missouri.

After receiving his doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri, Shonkwiler's first academic appointment was in the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida, where he studied the markets for specialty crops and developed supply response models.

After 13 years at Florida, Shonkwiler was hired by the University of Nevada's (then) agricultural economics department. There he studied preference methods for non-market valuation. He was the first researcher to apply methods consistent with optimizing behavior for estimating a discrete system of demands for non-market goods.

After 20 years at the University of Nevada, Shonkwiler joined UGA in August 2012. Both his research and teaching are focused in the area of applied econometrics with an emphasis on non-market valuation. Some current work includes the specification and estimation of high-dimensioned multivariate binary response systems.

Shonkwiler is a Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and a Distinguished Scholar of the Western Agricultural Economics Association. He has been an associate editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and an Editor of the Journal of Agricultural & Resource Economics. Lastly, he served as the chairman of the Resource Economics Department at the University of Nevada from 2009 to 2011.

Donglin Zhang

Donglin ZhangHorticulture, Professor and Michael A. Dirr Endowed Chair

Donglin Zhang received a bachelor's degree in forestry and master's degree in forestry botany at the Central South University of Forestry and Technology in China.

He was invited to UGA as a visiting scholar and studied at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Institute of Ecology in 1991. He earned a second master's in 1995 and a doctoral degree in 1998, from the Department of Horticulture at the UGA.

Zhang served as assistant, associate and full professor at the University of Maine for the past 15 years and as a Putnam Fellow at Harvard University for 3 years studying ornamental plant introduction, breeding, propagation and production. The Maine Landscape and Nursery Association and the University of Maine Department of Environmental Horticulture stablished the Donglin Zhang Scholarship to recognize his contributions.

Zhang joined the faculty of the UGA Department of Horticulture in August 2012. To produce better ornamental plants for our green industry, he and his woody ornamental plant laboratory crew conduct plant explorations on native flora and ornamental germplasm from other countries, especially China, Japan and Korea. They select unique plants from open pollination and artificial hybridization; evaluate superior clones for better adaptation to Georgian and eastern US environments; apply molecular technology and embryogenesis for establishing rapid woody plant breeding systems and develop edible or other functional landscape plants.

Mark Abney

Mark AbneyEntomology, Associate Professor

Mark Abney joined the UGA Entomology faculty at the Tifton Campus in June 2013. He received a bachelor's degree in crop science and a master's degree in entomology from UGA; he received a PhD in entomology from North Carolina State University.

He served as a post-doctoral researcher at NC State, where his work centered on reducing the impact of soil insect pests in sweet potato. Abney spent over five years on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at NC State, serving most recently as associate professor and extension specialist with responsibilities for insect management in commercial vegetables.

Mark's research focuses on understanding the biology and ecology of peanut pests in order to develop effective management tactics. In addition, he also has a 30 percent extension appointment, with the goal of helping farmers adopt the best practice for managing peanut pests.

Erick Smith

Erick SmithHorticulture, Assistant Professor

Erick Smith joined the Department of Horticulture at the Tifton Campus in April 2013 as an assistant professor with a 20 percent research appointment. He received an associate arts and science degree in chemistry from Lower Columbia College, two bachelor's degrees in agriculture and horticulture plus his doctoral degree in horticulture from Washington State University.

His doctoral studies focused on the mechanical harvest of sweet cherry. He evaluated sweet cherry cultivar response to the plant bioregulator ethephon —an ethylene releasing compound — and its effect on fruit abscission. This work culminated in a paper published in the journal Metabolomics in 2010.

Smith's postdoctoral research included floral timing and crop load evaluations of apple and cherry at Washington State University and the University Tasmania. He also managed the hop (Humulus lupulus) breeding program at Washington State University.

Presently, his extension and research work with blueberry production seeks to identify practical solutions that minimize inputs and improve fruit quality.

He is helping to link blueberry producers with researchers' efforts to enhance management practices that improve production of blueberries in the very challenging environment of south Georgia.


Research news

CAES Graduate Student Awards

Graduate students are the core of any strong research program, and these students exemplify the level of excellence for which CAES is known.

Each year students across the 30 CAES graduate programs are recognized with numerous local, regional, and national awards and honors. The contribution of our graduate students to the CAES research and instruction enterprise were recognized during the annual E. Broadus Browne Award ceremony in April 2013.

The E. Broadus Browne Research Awards are named for experiment station director E. Broadus Browne's distinguished service to the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations. The objectives of these awards are to encourage the research creativity and communication effectiveness of M.S. and Ph.D. students.

This year's college-wide Broadus Browne Awards for Outstanding Graduate Research were presented at a reception at UGA's Coverdell Center.

Horticulture Ph.D. student Tripti Vashisthe honored with first place Broadus Browne Award.

Horticulture Ph.D. student Tripti Vashisth, won the first place award for her presentation, "Fruit detachment in rabbiteye blueberry: abscission and physical separation."

Pictured, Vashisth's major professor Anish Malladi and department head Doug Bailey congratulate her on her award.

Entomology Ph.D. student Stephanie Weldon was awarded second place Broadus Browne Award.

Entomology Ph.D. student Stephanie Weldon, was awarded second place for her presentation, "Nested mutualism: A virus forms the fulcrum of an insect bacterium symbiosis." Her major professor is Kerry Oliver.

Food science and technology master's degree student Taylor Kronn won the master's degree first place Broadus Browne Award.

Food science and technology master's degree student Taylor Kronn, pictured with major professor Yao-wen Huang and department head Rakesh Singh, took home the master's degree first place award for her presentation, "Nonthermal plasma treatment of packaged poultry breast fillets for the reduction of spoilage bacteria."

CAES-Georgia Tech collaboration on plant disease detection and agro-robotics

An interdisciplinary team from the UGA (CAES and College of Engineering), Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), and USDA-ARS are working together to develop the technology to enable the early detection of pests and diseases in agricultural systems.

To help reduce crop losses, a new paradigm is proposed for disease detection based on individual plant data collected by a mobile robot that provides a more complete, but as of yet unmodeled, understanding of the health of a plant.

It is proposed to integrate data from advanced chemical sensing to identify the presence of a specific pathogen, hyper-spectral imaging of individual plants to identify plant stress, environmental sensors and farmer observations to accurately identify affected plants days before any visible symptoms are manifested by the plant.

Initial project funding has been obtained from the Georgia Specialty Crop Block Grant program, and joint proposals have been submitted to AFRI programs and the National Robotics Initiative. Current collaborators in the CAES include Glen Rains, Pingsheng Ji, and Harald Scherm. Mr. Gary McMurray ( is the lead PI for GTRI.)

World Soybean Research Conference in Savannah in 2017

UGA has won the bid to host "The World Soybean Research Conference X" in Savannah to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the introduction of soybean into North America.

Soybean was first introduced into North America in Savannah in 1765. From there, the soybean has become the second largest crop in the U.S., where it is planted on 76 million acres.

Thanks to the investigative work of Theodore Hymowitz, emeritus professor, University of Illinois, we now know that Samuel Bowen brought soybean seeds that he had collected in China to Savannah in 1765. Bowen arranged with his friend, Henry Yonge of Savannah to grow this first North American soybean crop on Yonge's plantation. From these humble beginnings, the crop has grown to achieve the status as a major source of vegetable protein and second largest source of vegetable oil.

The WSRC will attract about 2000 attendees interested in topics such as Agronomy, Breeding, Economics, Entomology, Genomics, Marketing, Meal, Oil, Pathology, Protein, Biotechnology, Utilization, and Weed Science.

Venue: The Savannah International Convention Center, GA
Date: September 10-15, 2017
Organizing committee: Drs. Scott Jackson, Wayne Parrott, Zenglu Li, Casimir Akoh, and Louise Wicker

For more information on the introduction of soybean to North America, please visit


Funding news

FY12 Record Year For Income from CAES Plant Variety and Germplasm Development

The FY13 licensing revenue figures from UGA’s Technology Commercialization Office will not be available until later in the year. However, according to data from FY12, UGA collected licensing revenue of $7.51 million from intellectual property (IP), of which 76.4 percent ($5.74 million) was generated by the CAES, mostly through licensing of plant varieties and germplasm ($4.68 million). University-wide, peanut varieties were the No. 1 licensing revenue generator, contributing 30.0 percent of the UGA total.

The UGA top-ten list also included turfgrasses (#3, 9.8 percent), ornamentals (#5, 7.7 percent), small grains (#7, 4.5 percent), and horticultural food crops (#8, 4.1 percent). The latter include mostly blueberries. Indeed, Dr. Scott NeSmith, Department of Horticulture, received UGA's Inventor of the Year Award for his blueberry breeding program housed at the Griffin Campus and the Alapaha Station (see

Revenue by product categories


At UGA, 30 percent of the licensing income from plant varieties or germplasm flows back into a general Cultivar Development Research Program to competitively fund the breeding programs in the CAES. The table below provides more information about intellectual property in the CAES.

Funding chart


Major Grants Submitted and Awarded

The five largest CAES grant applications submitted between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013:

  • Center for the integration of agriculture and public health (Tim Williams, USAID)
  • Advanced biofuels and bioproducts from annual sugar crops (Craig Kvien, USDA-NIFA)
  • GEPR: Regulatory DNA, angiosperm evolution and antropogenese crop improvement (Andrew Paterson, NSF)
  • Modern peanut improvement for abiotic stress in Western Central Africa (Scott Jackson and Peggy Ozias-Akins, USAID)
  • iPSC neural stem cell treatment in stroke pig model (Franklin West, NIH)

The five largest CAES grant applications awarded between July 1, 2012 and June, 30 2013:
(Some of these are annual installments of previously funded projects.)

  • Feed the Future food security innovative lab: Collaborative research on peanut productivity and mycotoxin control (Steve Brown, USAID)
  • Advanced processing technologies as multiple hurdles to inactivate STEC and viruses during beef processing and on non-intact beef products (Yen-con Hung, USDA)
  • A genetic resource for gene discovery in soybean (Wayne Parrott, NSF)
  • Leveraging untapped genetic diversity in soybean (Wayne Parrott & Scott Jackson, NSF)
  • In-situ enzymatic oxidative treatment for perfluorinated compounds  (Jack Huang, Air Force)


Research in the news