Animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam, a University of California Cooperative Extension biotechnology specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis, is the keynote speaker for the 2022 D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards, to be held Nov. 8 at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.
Her talk, entitled “Science Friction: Can effective communication save genome editing from the fate of GMOs?”, will highlight the importance of science communication as a driver of innovative change in our lives.
Genome editing, the process of introducing targeted alterations in the genome for both human health and agricultural applications, has the potential to meaningfully change the way we approach issues in today’s world, however only with thoughtful public communication can this transformational technology survive the court of public opinion.
“We are excited to host Dr. Van Eenennaam for the 2022 D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards. She has developed a strong international reputation as not only an accomplished researcher, but also an outstanding advocate for quality science communication. With agriculture and environment moving quickly to embrace cutting-edge technologies, our ability to share the importance of these new tools with the public is critical to our success in implementing them well,” said Nick Place, dean and director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).
The D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards, a UGA Signature Lecture and CAES Signature Event, serves to highlight the latest innovations in agricultural and environmental science. The D.W. Brooks Awards, presented at the annual event, honor outstanding faculty who have excelled in service to the land-grant mission at CAES.
2022 D.W. Brooks award winners
Excellence in Extension
The 2022 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension will be presented to Pam Knox, an agricultural climatologist with UGA Cooperative Extension, who specializes in weather and climate variability impacts on agriculture. Knox is director of the UGA Weather Network, managing a group of 88 automated weather stations across the state that provide weather and climate data to farmers, utilities, Extension agents and private citizens. The network also helps support the National Weather Service by providing real-time weather information in hazardous weather outbreaks to support public safety initiatives.
In the CAES Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Knox provides outreach and education on climate and its effects on crops and livestock in the Southeastern U.S. In this capacity, she provides weather and climate data and analyses to university scientists and user groups across the region.
Excellence in International Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
The 2022 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in International Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will be presented to Samuel Aggrey, Richard B. Russell Chair and Professor in the Department of Poultry Science. Aggrey’s research includes developing models for genomic selection, nutrigenomics, molecular and cellular bases of stressors (heat and coccidia infections), and poultry breeding.
Aggrey is a co-editor of the book "Poultry Genetics, Breeding and Biotechnology" and the lead editor for the book "Advances in Poultry Genetics and Genomics." He teaches poultry breeding at the undergraduate level and postgraduate courses in population and quantitative genetics and breeding strategies. He also co-teaches an international course on quantitative genetics and genomics at the Biosciences East Africa (BeCA) International Livestock Research Institute and the African Animal Breeding Network (AABNet). Aggrey has consulted for the poultry breeding industry, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, PROJ-X, and Kuwait National Research Institute, among others, on animal improvement-related projects.
Excellence in Public Service Extension
The 2022 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension will be presented to Rachel Stewart, Family and Consumer Sciences agent and county coordinator for UGA Cooperative Extension in Tattnall County. A senior public service associate for UGA, Stewart is known for her extensive programming efforts in child safety and injury prevention with a concentration on child passengers and teen drivers.
Her research study, “Child Passenger Safety with Culturally Diverse Audiences,” was published in the Journal of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in 2019. Stewart is known widely for enhancing scholarly work efforts among county Extension faculty, receiving invitations to speak at three national professional conferences.
Excellence in Research
The 2022 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Research will be presented to Peggy Ozias-Akins, UGA Distinguished Research Professor and D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor in the Department of Horticulture on the UGA Tifton campus. From 2012 to 2022, she served as director of the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, which includes faculty and affiliated members at UGA’s Athens, Griffin and Tifton campuses.
Her research focuses on apomictic reproduction in grasses and peanut molecular genetics. Her research group cloned the first gene for parthenogenesis from plants that naturally reproduce asexually without fertilization (natural apomicts), and demonstrated its function in multiple grasses including pearl millet, rice and maize.
Excellence in Teaching
The 2022 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to Kylee Jo Duberstein, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Science, who teaches in the equine science program. She joined the faculty at UGA in 2007 and, in addition to teaching, she conducts applied research in the areas of horse nutrition and management. Duberstein teaches courses including “Equine Nutrition” and “Anatomy and Biomechanics of the Horse” to a variety of students, including those in pre-veterinary and animal-industry-focused majors.
She leads the applied, hands-on equine science curriculum in the department through introductory horse handling and riding courses, as well as an advanced course on horse behavior and training open to students from majors across the UGA campus. She also leads a large graduate and undergraduate research program focusing on applied equine nutrition and applied animal biomechanics. As part of her equine nutrition research program, Duberstein conducts studies on forage selection and pasture management for horses, with a recent focus on managing horses with metabolic disorders.
The D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards for Excellence are named for a Georgian whose contributions to agriculture are respected worldwide. Each year, CAES hosts the lecture and awards in honor of the late D.W. Brooks, CAES alumnus and founder of Gold Kist Inc. A lifelong learner and leader, Brooks devoted his career to improving lives through innovations in agriculture, and CAES honors these leaders in his memory.