Published on 11/14/19

CAES celebrates solutions for feeding the planet and the leaders who are making those solutions reality

By Merritt Melancon

The students and faculty of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences came together Nov. 12 to celebrate the progress that agriculture has made in the past 50 years and the promise of innovations to come.

As part of the annual D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards, the college recognized four of its most innovative and dedicated faculty members with D.W. Brooks Awards for Excellence.

“These winners have been nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of judges and they represent some of the most noteworthy scientists and Extension professionals in the college,” said CAES Dean and Director Sam Pardue.

Marc van Iersel, Vincent J. Dooley Professor of Horticulture, received the 2019 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Research for his work in the area of energy efficiency and water-efficient irrigation in greenhouses and nurseries.

Patricia J. Moore, professor and senior teaching fellow in the Department of Entomology, received the D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Teaching for her innovative teaching which employes a laser focus on including and encouraging all students — especially those underrepresented in STEM fields — to pursue scientific careers.

Alfredo Martinez-Espinoza, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, received the 2019 D.W Brooks Award for Excellence in Extension in recognition of his development of a dynamic Extension and applied research program that focuses on the management of new and recurring diseases of turfgrass, small grains and non-legume forages and his delivery of relevant information to stakeholders and fellow Extension professionals.

Lori Purcell Bledsoe, Northwest District 4-H program development coordinator, received the 2019 D.W. Brooks Award in Public Service Extension for her work leading youth development efforts on the national level and her success expanding the number of young people served by Georgia 4-H across northeast Georgia.

The college has awarded D.W. Brooks Faculty Awards for Excellence in research, teaching and Extension since 1983. The D.W. Brooks Faculty Awards for Excellence include a plaque and a $5,000 cash award. This year’s awards were presented at a luncheon preceding the D.W. Brooks Lecture.

In addition to celebrating this year’s awards recipients, CAES students and faculty were challenged to tackle the necessary but hard work of helping to double the world’s food supply by 2050 by this year's lecturer, Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, a 1982 graduate of the UGA School of Law and former executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Cousin has spent her career working to build more robust and sustainable food systems in food insecure countries around the world. In her talk, “Achieving Food Security and Planetary Health: A Solvable Enigma,” she challenged attendees to work collaboratively to continue to fight for data-backed interventions and policies that are needed to build sustainable food security in the face of a growing population and climate change.

“There is nothing shameful, unrealistic or naïve about wanting a better world,” Cousin told the crowd. “Creating a global food system that fuels our human health and supports our planetary health is possible and achievable. (If) you still say it’s impossible; Nelson Mandela said, ‘It always seems impossible until it is done.’ ”

“Getting it done requires acting collectively and universally at every level, but it must begin with each one of us overcoming our personal fears, our own personal xenophobia and our own personal resistance to change.”

For a video of Cousin's full address, visit

For more information about the legacy of D.W. Brooks, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
Download Image