Published on 04/10/20

CAES graduate students recognized with annual research awards

By Chad Cain

Three graduate students in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) were recently honored with an E. Broadus Browne Award for Outstanding Graduate Research.

Given in honor of Browne, a former director of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations in the college, the award is presented to outstanding master’s and doctoral students based on research and effective communication.

This year, Lorena Lacerda in the department of crop and soil sciences was awarded first place for the Browne Award in the doctoral division. Her research is interdisciplinary and international — part of a collaboration between UGA and the Israeli Agricultural Research Organization — and focuses on using remote sensing to improve irrigation scheduling methods in irrigated cotton in the state of Georgia.

“Winning this award is good feedback that gives me even more confidence to believe we are on the right path,” said Lacerda. “The monetary incentive that comes with the award will allow us to participate in more events and help us disseminate our results to the academic community, farmers and other stakeholders.”

The first-place doctoral award consists of a certificate, $2,000 and up to $1,500 for support to attend a professional meeting. Second place is awarded $1,000. The first-place master’s award consists of a certificate, $1,000 and up to $1,500 in support to attend a professional meeting.

Doctoral student Dima White won second place in the doctoral division. His research thesis deals with addressing keel bone fractures using nutrition and management interventions in laying hens housed in cage-free aviary systems. It consists of using a device to scan the keel bones in pullets and laying hens, and determining the structural compositions of those bones in 3D analysis.

“[I’m] proud to represent the poultry science department because all of the faculty and students are doing great research and I couldn’t have done any of this without their help and support,” said White.

Raegan Wiggins was awarded first place in the master’s division. Her research at the UGA Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics is based on working to combat the buildup of aflatoxin, a highly toxic substance that is sometimes found in peanuts. It is considered the most carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, substance yet discovered.

“I firmly believe that, by educating others, we can all do our part in improving on the current world hunger and food safety crises,” said Wiggins.

CAES currently has 580 graduate students across its 18 master’s degree and 15 doctoral degree programs. To learn more about CAES graduate programs, visit

Chad Cain is a student writer for the CAES Office of Communications and Creative Services.

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