Published on 07/07/20

UGA doctoral candidate named Borlaug Scholar

By Maria M. Lameiras

Chandler M. Levinson, a doctoral student studying plant breeding, genetics and genomics at the University of Georgia Tifton campus, has been named a 2020 Borlaug Graduate Scholar by the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB).

The Borlaug Graduate Scholars program was established by NAPB and funded through the Agronomic Science Foundation (ASF) to develop the next generation of leaders in the plant breeding science professions. The annual awards are presented for outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service and research.

Levinson, who studies with D.W. Brooks Professor of horticulture Peggy Ozias-Akins in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, currently works with collaborators in the U.S., Argentina and Senegal to use wild peanut relatives to increase resistance in cultivated peanuts, improving and protecting peanut yields and contributing to global food security. Levinson holds a bachelor’s degree from Berry College, where she worked in a chestnut breeding program and longleaf pine restoration program.

“Chandler’s research has been part of a formative project on peanut crop improvement for disease resistance traits from wild relatives through interspecific hybridization and molecular marker-assisted breeding,” Ozias-Akins said. “She not only has excelled in her research but also leadership activities in the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Graduate Student Association and Graduate Student Working Group of the National Association of Plant Breeders.”

Levinson has authored or coauthored three peer-reviewed articles and has two more in preparation. She provides leadership in several organizations, serving as chair for the NAPB Graduate Student Working Group, president of the American Peanut Research and Education Society Graduate Student Association, and vice president of the UGA Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Graduate Student Association. Her main passions are mentorship, journal and grant writing, professional development, rock climbing, helping others and rescuing animals.

As a Borlaug Graduate Scholar, Levinson will be paired with volunteer mentors who are professional and scientific NAPB members committed to the professional development of the recipient.

"It is an honor to be associated with Dr. Norman Borlaug through this award, and I hope to follow closely in his footsteps toward promoting food security through plant breeding,” Levinson said. “My plans for my future career are to continue working on improving crops in order to help people, likely by becoming a professor, and focusing on fostering international collaborations and on mentoring confident students."

Levinson will officially receive the award at the NAPB Annual Meeting to be held virtually August 17-20. For more information on the 2020 awards, including award descriptions, visit

For more information about the plant breeding programs at UGA, visit

Maria M. Lameiras is a managing editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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