Published on 03/13/24

Outstanding alumni to be honored at 68th CAES Alumni Association Awards

By Jordan Powers

Seven alumni from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) will be recognized at the 68th annual CAES Alumni Association Awards banquet on April 6. Two Georgia agricultural leaders will be inducted into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame at the event, hosted at the Classic Center in Athens.

“Georgia’s No. 1 industry — agriculture — is that because of the people that are part of the industry,” said Becca Turner, CAES Alumni Association board president. “So many of those people are graduates of CAES who are now using their knowledge to continue to advance agriculture.”

“It is an honor for the CAES Alumni Association to celebrate the impact its members are making in communities and businesses not only in our state, but all across the globe,” said Turner, partner and managing director of Oak + Willow Creatives.

A composite image of three young professionals dressed in business attire.
The CAES Alumni Association Young Alumni Achievement Award recognizes alumni under 41 who have achieved excellence in their chosen field or in service to their community. This year's honorees are (L-R) Whitney Murphy, Zack Murphy and Chris Chammoun.

Young Alumni Achievement Awards

The CAES Alumni Association Young Alumni Achievement Award recognizes alumni under 41 who have achieved excellence in their chosen field or in service to their community.

Chris Chammoun

Chris Chammoun is director of agricultural technology at the Center of Innovation, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. In this role, Chammoun supports Georgia-based agriculture technology companies, assists in recruiting agriculture technology companies to Georgia, and helps foster the innovation ecosystem throughout the state’s agricultural industry.

A native of Adel, Georgia, Chammoun holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from CAES and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University.

Whitney Kizer Murphy

Whitney Kizer Murphy serves as a crop protection territory manager for Corteva Agriscience covering east Georgia and lower South Carolina. As a territory manager, she assists and advises distributors, retailers and growers in making agronomic and economic progress in their row crop and specialty crop operations, working with customers to provide recommendations and expertise around Corteva’s crop protection portfolio of products.

Murphy grew up in Appling, Georgia, and is a second-generation Ag Dawg. As an undergraduate animal science major at CAES, she was heavily involved in both the Sigma Alpha professional agricultural sorority and the UGA Block and Bridle Club and served on the executive committee for both organizations and on the Great Southland Stampede Rodeo Committee.

Zachary Taylor Murphy

Zachary Taylor Murphy is a relationship manager with AgSouth Farm Credit in Statesboro, Georgia. In more than seven years with AgSouth Farm Credit, he has served as a relationship manager and as a regional vice president. During his 15 years in the farm credit system, Murphy has actively engaged in community advocacy for the support of agriculture at the local and state levels.

After obtaining an associate degree from the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in 2007, he transferred to CAES, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness in 2009. At UGA, Murphy served as an officer in the Ag Econ Club, as chair of the UGA chapter of Ducks Unlimited and as president of the UGA Agronomy Club.

A composite image of four male professors wearing button down shirts.
The CAES Alumni Association Award of Excellence recognizes alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen field or in service to their community. This year's honorees are (L-R) Phil Brannen, Lohitash Karumbaiah, Larry Lykins Jr. and Todd Callaway.

Awards of Excellence

The CAES Alumni Association Award of Excellence recognizes alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen field or in service to their community.

Phillip M. Brannen

Phillip M. Brannen, a professor in the CAES Department of Plant Pathology, has extensive experience with plant disease management programs in numerous cropping systems. As the UGA Cooperative Extension fruit pathologist for Georgia, Brannen conducts research and technology transfer for multiple fruit commodities.

His efforts are directed towards developing integrated pest management (IPM) practices to solve disease issues and technology transfer of disease-management methods to commercial fruit producers. He also teaches the graduate-level field pathology course; a First-Year Odyssey seminar on the history of plant diseases and their impact on society; team-teaches an IPM course; coordinates the “Viticulture and Enology in the Mediterranean Region” course offered in Cortona, Italy; and guest-lectures in numerous other courses throughout the year.

Todd Callaway

Todd Callaway is an associate professor in the CAES Department of Animal and Dairy Science. A ruminant microbiologist, Callaway grew up on a small horse, dairy and beef farm and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal and dairy science from CAES in 1993 and 1996. He went on to receive his doctorate in microbiology from Cornell University in 1999.

Following graduate school, Callaway joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in 2000 as a research microbiologist in the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit at the Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center in College Station, Texas. Callaway has published more than 200 refereed journal articles, more than 25 book chapters and two books.

Lohitash Karumbaiah

Lohitash Karumbaiah joined the faculty in the Regenerative Bioscience Center and the CAES Department of Animal and Dairy Science in 2013. An associate professor and director of the Translational Glycomaterials and Neural Repair Laboratory, Karumbaiah’s research team developed the first-ever tissue-engineered glycomaterial, a “brain glue” for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries. His laboratory was also the first to demonstrate the use of an insulin excipient for treating glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer.

Karumbaiah is passionate about student training and skill development, mentoring several undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral trainees into research and industry positions in the U.S. and abroad. His lab provides experiential learning opportunities for high school students and undergraduate summer research interns through the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health-supported experiential learning programs.

Larry Lykins Jr.

Larry Lykins Jr. has been a leader in his community of Ellijay, Georgia, as well as the state’s budding wine industry, since the early 2000s. A resident of Ellijay since 2002, he founded Cartecay Vineyards in 2007.

Lykins has served in numerous positions of leadership in the wine industry at the local, regional and state levels. He helped found and served as the first president of the state’s professional wine organization, The Georgia Wine Producers, in 2015, helping lay a foundation for the industry to grow and thrive. As president, he worked with CAES leadership to establish and fill an Extension viticulture position at UGA. Currently, Lykins serves on the Georgia Wine and Grape Commodity Commission in an advisory role.

Honoring achievement in the agriculture industry

“Each year, I am so impressed with the work our CAES alumni are doing in their careers and communities and I so look forward to this time we have to celebrate their accomplishments,” said CAES Dean and Director Nick T. Place. “In CAES, we are always striving to train the next generation, produce research that makes a difference in the world and support our communities through Extension efforts across the state. The alumni we are honoring at this year’s banquet are each a shining example of the achievement of these goals and we are proud to call them a part of the CAES family.”

The CAES Alumni Association Awards banquet is a CAES Signature Event, showcasing outstanding faculty contributions, fostering community and industry collaboration, and spotlighting the college's impact on a global scale. The 68th annual CAES Alumni Association Awards banquet is supported by presenting sponsor AGCO, as well as the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Grown, the CAES Alumni Association, Farm Credit Associations of Georgia and Corteva Agriscience.

For more information about the CAES Alumni Association, visit To register for the banquet, visit the event page. Registration closes March 27.

Jordan Powers is the public relations coordinator and writer for UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.