The UGA FoodPIC team (Dr. Kirk Kealey, Dr. Dick Phillips, Lauren Hatcher, Bobby Goss, and Gana Otgonbayar) were heavily involved in the 2018 Flavor of Georgia Contest in Atlanta on March 20. This UGA sponsored contest solicits product submissions from food entrepreneurs and companies across Georgia. This year's event had 125 submissions.
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Former UGA Griffin Campus Young Scholar, Natalie Morean, was recently recognized by the UGA Office of Institutional Diversity for her work in advancing issues of human rights and race relations. She was presented the President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award at the Freedom Breakfast sponsored by UGA, the Athens-Clarke Unified Government and the Clarke County School District (see article here).
Morean worked locally with Dr. Paul Raymer during the summers of 2013 and 2014 as a part of the Young Scholars Program, and again in 2015 as a research intern. She currently serves as the president of the National Council of Negro Women, a member of the Black Affairs Council and a fellow in the Leaders Engaged in Affirming Diversity program at UGA. One of her greatest passions is serving the less fortunate and she works diligently to organize ways to provide food and blankets to the homeless in Athens-Clarke County.
The University of Georgia Griffin Campus held the Fall Graduation Celebration and Brick Ceremony for the class of 2017 on Thursday, December 14, 2017 in the Stuckey Auditorium. In total, 24 students received their degrees and became alumni of the oldest state-supported university in the nation. This was the 22nd graduation ceremony held on the Griffin Campus.
Dr. Lew Hunnicutt, Assistant Provost and Campus Director, welcomed students, along with their families and friends, before introducing Keynote Speaker Dr. Russell Mumper, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs for UGA.
Dr. Mumper challenged the graduates to never become stagnant. Instead to keep challenging themselves, building upon their skills and accomplishments as well as being open to the possibility of change.
Daniel Mwalwayo has spent most of his professional career working to ensure a safe food supply in his home country of Malawi.
This spring, he’s spending three months focused on that goal while training at the University of Georgia through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program. The program, which is administered at UGA by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Global Programs, promotes food security and economic growth by providing training and collaborative research opportunities to researchers and policymakers from developing or middle-income countries.
After nearly a decade working for the national food inspection program in Malawi, Mwalwayo wanted to study how to minimize aflatoxin in processed peanuts, a problem he sees firsthand at home. The Borlaug program matched him with Koushik Adhikari, a UGA food science professor who is an expert in sensory analysis and is working with Mwalwayo on how to survey consumers on peanut consumption and aflatoxin-related issues. Mwalwayo also spent time in the lab of Jia-Sheng Wang, the head of the Environmental Health Science Department at UGA, to learn more about aflatoxin testing techniques.
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has tapped Allen Moore, currently serving as the department head of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Genetics, to lead the college's research efforts as the CAES associate dean for research.
CAES Dean Sam Pardue announced the decision this week following a months-long national search.
“Dr. Moore brings a diverse background in genetics, ecology and entomology to our college research program,” Pardue said. “Adding his breadth of experience and perspective to our stellar faculty of researchers will help us continue on our trajectory of strong growth.”
Moore, a UGA Distinguished Research Professor, is an expert in evolutionary biology and behavior genetics; molecular and quantitative genetic studies of complex traits, especially social traits; and the development of behavior. He held various research and administrative positions in the biological sciences at the University of Manchester and the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and in entomology at the University of Kentucky.
Last summer, seven seniors from Pike County High School (PCHS) in Zebulon, Georgia, with an aptitude for science made a commitment to work alongside University of Georgia Griffin campus scientists three days a week for the entire school year. This month, they will complete their yearlong partnership.
The students, Courtney Bagwell, Dylan Blohm, Abigail Chasteen, Nikki Dodson, Megan Pitts, Taylor Thomas and Talisa Watts, are the first group to take part in the off-campus internship.
"The beauty and the flexibility of the (Pike County STEM) Academy is that we have a lot of standards, but we can pick and choose the ones that fit with science and math, and then add in the technology and the engineering through agriculture," said Greg Waits, the program's coordinator and the agriculture education teacher at the high school.
Students are selected for the program based on their test scores in math and science. Then they take advanced classes in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas during their freshman, sophomore and junior years before participating in the off-campus experience at UGA-Griffin.
Formally, the students earn Advanced Placement science credits for participating. They also gain a wealth of information and personal experience.
Agriculture is Georgia’s top industry, and students from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are learning about the diversity of agriculture during a weeklong tour across the state.
Thirty-three students are spending their spring break immersing themselves in learning more about poultry, Vidalia onions, peanuts, turfgrass and many other commodities that make agriculture an almost $14 billion industry in Georgia.
“This is an amazing tour that allows students to see Georgia agriculture up close and personal. Students learn about the complexity and sophistication of Georgia agriculture,” said Josef Broder, CAES associate dean for academic affairs. “They gain a perspective and appreciation for agriculture that better prepares them for careers in and outside of agriculture.”
The tour began on Monday in north Georgia with stops to learn about apples at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia; wine at Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega, Georgia; poultry production at the Georgia Poultry Laboratory in Gainesville, Georgia; and nursery production at James Greenhouses, a family-owned and -operated perennial plug operation in Colbert, Georgia.
University of Georgia scientists are now better equipped to help businesses launch new food products with the opening of the Food Technology Center, locally known as the FoodPIC building, on the UGA Griffin campus. The facility houses the university’s Food Product Innovation and Commercialization, or FoodPIC, Center.
The $7.4 million project was funded through $3.5 million from the state of Georgia and additional funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority and the University of Georgia.
The state-of-the-art 14,500-square-foot facility was dedicated on Jan. 30 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Speakers at the ceremony included Board of Regents Chairman Dr. C. Thomas Hopkins Jr., state Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), Chairman of the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority Board Charles Copeland, Dean and Director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Sam Pardue, and Pike County STEM Academy student Nikki Dodson, along with UGA President Jere W. Morehead.
“The Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center is an outstanding example of the University of Georgia using its resources to help strengthen our state’s economy,” Morehead said. “We are grateful for the support we have received for the new Food Technology Center, and we are excited to expand the reach of FoodPIC within the global food industry.”
Landscapers can soon add a bit of Georgia’s historical Piedmont and native prairies to their designs thanks to the creation of three new little bluestem perennial grasses, released through a University of Georgia and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnership.
Little bluestem grasses are native to North America and are a major component of the tallgrass prairie. They typically produce green to blue-green foliage. With names that conjure up thoughts of the ‘70s, the new little bluestem varieties are much more colorful than their traditional parents. ‘Cinnamon Girl’ has a red-burgundy glow, ‘Seasons in the Sun’ has a lavender glow and ‘Good Vibrations’ is a mix of colors: red-purple with green-yellow foliage.
The idea to breed the colorful grasses came from USDA scientist Melanie Harrison. Harrison curates more than 500 different species of grasses and safely cold stores them in the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit facility on the UGA campus in Griffin, Georgia. Most of these grasses will never be grown in home landscapes, but their genes may be used to breed specific characteristics into new grass varieties.
Looking at little bluestems day after day, Harrison began to notice ornamental characteristics.
“My job is to conserve close to 500 different species of grasses, so there’s a lot of variety,” she said. “I thought they were pretty, but I’m not a plant breeder, so I asked Carol (Robacker) what she thought.”
Bob Westerfield spends his days growing vegetables and watching for problems. As University of Georgia Extension’s consumer vegetable horticulturist, he answers questions from backyard gardeners and Extension agents across the state. In the summer months, most of the questions are about tomatoes.
“I’d say 90 out of 100 vegetable calls I get in the summer are about tomatoes,” said Westerfield. “I’m not a huge fan of eating fresh tomatoes, but those who do say the fresh-grown taste is incredible. I want to love to eat them, but I just don’t like them. But I will eat them cooked, and I love ketchup.”
Plant second crop, or first, now
With Georgia’s long summer growing season, Westerfield says it’s not too late to “grab some transplants and put them in the ground” and enjoy your own homegrown tomato harvest.
“Some folks planted tomatoes early and are pulling tomatoes now. On my farm, we stagger our plantings, so that we have some tomatoes that are almost red and some just in the blooming stage,” he said.
When planting tomatoes, Westerfield says you have to keep your personal preference in mind when selecting a variety. What do you plan to do with the tomatoes? Do you want something easy tomatoes to eat fresh or ones to use for canning?