Published on 09/04/19

Lombardini named head of UGA Department of Horticulture

By Sharon Dowdy

Plant physiologist Leo Lombardini joined the University of Georgia as head of the Department of Horticulture on Sept. 1.

Lombardini, who will lead the department in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), comes to UGA from Texas A&M University, where he served on the faculty for the past 17 years. Most recently he was a professor of horticulture and founding director of the Center for Coffee Research and Education at the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture.

“When the opportunity came up to continue my career at UGA, an institution which is known worldwide for its excellence in research, education and extension programs, as well as its traditions, I knew I could not pass,” Lombardini said. “And now I can say that I could not be prouder to join this prestigious department and university.”

Looking ahead, he sees the next few years as a time of great change for the CAES Department of Horticulture as a few key tenured faculty members are retiring.

“It will be challenging to replace so many outstanding scholars, colleagues and friends, but it will important to take advantage of those opportunities to invest in the next generation of horticulturists who will form the foundation of the department’s future,” Lombardini said. “Though we might have new faces in the future, I can assure you that our commitment to excellence, research and teaching will not change.”

He plans to spend the upcoming months traveling the state to learn more about Georgia’s horticulture industry and discuss ways to develop new relationships and strengthen existing partnerships with industry leaders.

A native of Italy, he received a laurea degree (equivalent to a combined bachelor's and master’s degree) in forestry from the University of Florence in Firenze, Italy, and a doctorate in horticulture from Michigan State University.

Lombardini joined Texas A&M University in June 2002 as an assistant professor of horticulture and pecan physiology. His research focused on plant physiology, especially in relation to plant responses to environmental stress and gas exchange. He also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in plant physiology and global issues in horticulture.

He joined the Borlaug Institute in 2014 as the director deputy director of world coffee research and became the founding director of the Center for Coffee Research and Education in 2016.

For more about the UGA Department of Horticulture, visit the department's website.

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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