UGA Horticulture Department

Gray Simpson Named Horticulture Department Outstanding Senior

Gray Simpson has been chosen by the faculty to be the departmental Outstanding Senior. Gray has distinguished himself by receiving several noteworthy awards: Greenhouse Product News Intern of the Year,  American Floral Endowment Vic and Margaret Ball Internship at Metrolina Greenhouses, Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship, and the most prestigious scholarship offered by the Garden Club of Georgia. He is the Horticulture Vice President and has efficiently grown plants for sale and coordinated the efforts of numerous student to hold a very successful Plant Sale.  He also was the Production Coordinator for the Pi Alpha Xi Poinsettia sale.  Congratulations Gray, and Well done!


Dr. John Ruter elected “Fellow” for IPPS

John M. Ruter,  Allan Armitage Endowed Professor of Horticulture and Director of the Trial Gardens at UGA was recognized as a Fellow by the International Plant Propagators’ Society, Southern Region of North America, during the society’s recent meeting in Virginia Beach. VA.

This annual recognition is given to an individual each year that has made outstanding contributions to plant propagation and the nursery industry in the southeastern region.

IPPS is a global network of professionals with an interest in plant production, including horticultural research and education, with the aim to improve the knowledge, skills, productivity and professionalism of its members. IPPS has 1600 members over eight geographical regions around the world, spread over four continents.

Hort Faculty Recognized For Teaching Efforts




Several Horticulture Department faculty were recently recognized for their teaching efforts at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching sponsored by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences here at UGA.  Dr. Doug Bailey, our Department Head, along with Dr. Marc van Iersel, were recognized by students and received the CTL “Thank a Teacher Award.” Professor Marc van Iersel was recognized for receiving the prestigious 2016 American Society for Horticultural Science Outstanding Graduate Educator Award, and Tim Smalley was recognized for receiving the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship, our highest University level teaching award. Rounding out the evening. Dr. David Berle, Dr. Matthew Chappell, Dr. Tim Smalley, Dr. Bodie Pennisi, and Dr. Paul Thomas received recognition for their classes being cited by students as “My Favorite Class” in the 2015 “Thank a Professor Week” activities. Given how small our department is compared to many in the college, we represented well. Special thanks to the anonymous Horticulture students who said so many nice things about our faculty! (Pictures are faculty able to attend the banquet: From the left Dr. Marc van Iersel, Dr. Bodie Pennisi, Dr. Tim Smalley and Dr. Paul Thomas. Not present but appreciated are Dr. Doug Bailey, Dr. David Berle and Dr. Matt Chappell.

Horticulture graduate students win awards at the 61st SNA Research Conference

SNA winners, 2016

The happy winners from the 2016 SNA research Conference included Zhitong Li (2nd from left, 3rd place, MS competition), David Gianino (middle, 1st place MS competition) Geoffrey Weaver, third from right, 2nd place PhD competition) and Shuyang Zhen (right, 1st place PhD competition). Great students doing good work!

The 61st Annual Southern Nursery Association Research Conference was held in Athens, GA on August 30 and 31, 2016. The highlight of the first day was the annual student competition, with separate competitions for BS, MS, and PhD students. The horticulture department was well represented in the competition, with David Gianino and Zhitong Li in the MS division, while Shuyang Zhen and Geoffrey Weaver were part of the PhD competition. Our students gave outstanding talks and clearly impressed the judges. David Gianino won the MS competition with his presentation titled ‘Adaptive LED Lighting Can Benefit Greenhouse Production’. He discussed the benefits of the adaptive LED lights developed by him and Dr. Marc van Iersel. Zhitong Li, who works in Dr. John Ruter’s lab placed third in the MS competition for her talk titled ‘Induction of Tetraploid Hibiscus moscheutos through Seedling Soaking’. She discussed her ongoing breeding work on Hibiscus. Shuyang Zhen won the PhD competition for her presentation on ‘Modeling Daily Water Use of Bedding Plants Based on Environmental Factors and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index’, discussing the use of remote sensing to estimate canopy size. that information can then be used for predicting crop water needs. Geoffrey Weaver placed second with his talk on ‘Screening Photosynthetic Performance of Bedding Plants Using Chlorophyll Fluorescence’. his worked is focused on determining how efficiently different crops can use light (and how that depends on light intensity). Both Shuyang Zhen and Geoffrey Weaver work with Dr. Marc van Iersel in the Horticultural Physiology Lab. We are very proud of the outstanding work that is being done by our graduate students!

Horticultural Physiology lab members win Alex Laurie Award

Diagram of the irrigation controller

Rhuanito Ferrarezi, a former post-doc in the Horticultural Physiology Lab, Sue Dove, and Marc van Iersel recently received the Alex Laurie award from AmericanHort. AmericanHort is a national trade organization representing the ornamental horticulture industry. The Alex Laurie Award is presented to the author(s) of the most significant applied floriculture research paper published in any of the three refereed American Society for Horticultural Science publications during a calendar year. This award was established in honor of the late Alex Laurie (1892-1982), renowned floriculture teacher and researcher at The Ohio State University and a founder of the Ohio Florists’ Association.

Rhuanito, Sue and Marc received the award for their paper titled ‘An Automated System for Monitoring Soil Moisture and Controlling Irrigation Using Low-cost Open-source Microcontrollers’, which was published in HortTechnology in February 2015. The papers describes a low-cost irrigation controller that people can easily build and program themselves. The controller is based on an Arduino microcontroller and uses a capacitance sensor to measure soil moisture content. The control can automatically open an irrigation valve when the soil moisture level drops below a user-defined threshold. You can find the paper here. For more information about different irrigation controllers, you can check out Dr. van Iersel’s lab’s web page on this topic.

UGA Hort Alum Accepts Position at Purdue University


CongPicture1ratulations to UGA Hort Ph.D Alum Krishna Nemali who has accepted a faculty position at Purdue University as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Nemali, who studied under Dr. Marc van Iersel, has responsibility for extension and research activities related to controlled environment agriculture which includes ornamentals and vegetables grown under protected culture. He also teaches courses related to controlled environment agriculture production and technology. He has a B.S. in Agriculture from the Andhra Pradesh Agriculture University, India. His M.S. and Ph.D. programs at the University of Georgia focused on development of plant-uptake based automated irrigation technique using sensors and understanding the physiological responses of greenhouse crops to varying input (light, water and nutrients) levels during production. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis he studied physiological mechanisms that render tolerance to drought in Arabidopsis ecotypes.  Prior to joining Purdue, he worked at Monsanto company, USA for nearly 9 years as a controlled environment crop physiologist. His research at Monsanto significantly contributed to the commercialization of the first biotechnology-derived drought tolerant maize. He aims to train students with sustainable production practices that are complemented with state-of-the-art technologies in controlled environments to become next generation growers and researchers.A primary goal of his program at Purdue is to develop new and affordable technologies that improve sustainability (i.e., reduce input waste, minimize environmental impact, and increase profits) in controlled environment agriculture and make them easily available to growers. He aims to train students with sustainable production practices that are complemented with state-of-the-art technologies in controlled environments to become next generation growers and researchers.


Here is his contact information:

Krishna Nemali, Ph.D.  Assistant Professor

Controlled Environment Agriculture Extension & Research

Dept. Horticulture & Landscape Architecture Purdue University

Horticulture Building, Room 109B

625 Agricultural Mall Drive

West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010

Tel: (765) 494-8179






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