Published on 10/03/05

Four given 2005 D.W. Brooks Awards for Excellence

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

One man’s legacy of service, dedication and innovation continued in Athens, Ga., Oct. 3 as four University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty members received the D.W. Brooks Awards for Excellence.

Brooks, founder of Gold Kist Inc. and Cotton States Mutual Insurance Companies, was an advisor on agriculture and trade issues to seven U.S. presidents. Although he died in 1999, his promotion of agriculture lives on through the people honored Monday.

The 2005 winners are Karl Espelie, teaching; Andrew Paterson, research; Phillip Roberts, extension; and Mary White, public service extension programs. Each received $5,000 in recognition of their excellent work in their fields.

The awards program, in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, included the annual Brooks lecture, given this year by Judith Stern, a University of California at Davis professor of nutrition and internal medicine, on fighting obesity.

Espelie, a CAES entomology professor, has taught thousands of UGA students since joining the faculty in 1986. Besides teaching courses in entomology and honors biology, Espelie advises 300 biology and premedicine majors in the honors program as the CAES premed advisor. In 2004, all seven students he helped apply to the Medical College of Georgia were admitted.

In 2005, Espelie was named the UGA outstanding faculty advisor and awarded a certificate of merit from the National Academic Advising Association. He received the Lothar Tresp Outstanding Honors Professor Teaching Award in 1996, 2000 and 2003, a recognition that comes from the brightest and most demanding CAES students. Besides teaching and advising, Espelie gives lectures and demonstrations each year to elementary school students.

Paterson, an internationally recognized plant genomics authority, is director of the UGA Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory, which comprises about 40 UGA research scientists. He is also director of the National Science Foundation Comparative Grass Genomics Center and the USDA-IFAFS Center on Reducing the Genetic Vulnerability of Cotton and co-director of the Genes for Georgia Initiative.

He is most widely recognized for his expertise in applying modern technologies to genome mapping and QTL localization. His work addresses the fundamental questions on the structure and organization of crop genomes.

Roberts, an associate professor of entomology, is widely known as one of the nation’s leading cotton entomologists. He leads one of the strongest multidisciplinary cotton insect pest management programs in the United States. His approach provides superior educational programs to Georgia cotton farmers, county agents, industry associates and farm consultants.

In the Southeast, insect pests are often the most limiting factor in cotton production. The overall excellence and breadth of Roberts’ program has helped keep the Georgia cotton industry economically viable. His role on the UGA cotton team has become even more important as insect control issues become more complex due to transgenic crop opportunities and liabilities and continuing changes in farming practices.

Over the past 10 years, White designed and taught more than 500 hours of parenting education to at-risk families and teen parents. As a family and consumer sciences Extension agent for Candler and Emanuel counties, she wrote 24 “Tips for Parents” pamphlets, which are available nationwide through the Extension Web site. She also teaches and facilitates more than 30 hours of childcare training each year. Her efforts have doubled the number of licensed caregivers in Candler County and led to the certification of more than 500 area childcare providers.

To reach the at-risk people of her counties, White focuses more than 40 percent of her programs on low-income, parenting, school success and health-related topics. She is known nationally for programs that develop youth potential and improve the lives of at-risk families and consumers. She was recognized statewide for leading the Emanuel County Fitness Challenge, a six-week walking program for more than 700 adults and teens. She developed and teaches a yearly nutrition and health series, too, for all preschool students in Candler and Emanuel counties.

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Stephanie Schupska is the communications coordinator with the University of Georgia Honors College.