University of Georgia researcher and peach entomologist Brett Blaauw landed a coveted spot on the Fruit and Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2020, announced by Fruit Growers News.
“I would like to think that the previous award winners from UGA, and Dario Chavez and myself this year, demonstrate the strength of UGA’s extension faculty,” Blaauw said of the honor. “This award recognizes the next generation of agricultural leaders representing the U.S. fruit and vegetable industries, from farmers to extension personnel, and I am grateful to receive such an accolade.”
Blaauw, an assistant professor and UGA Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, holds a joint appointment in Clemson University’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.
Blaauw’s research and extension programs focus on addressing grower needs through a combination of laboratory studies, research farm trials, on-farm research, and collaboration with colleagues and county Extension personnel.
“Dr. Blaauw is an outstanding junior faculty member who has a robust research and extension program that is supported by a wide variety of sponsors,” said Kris Braman, head of UGA’s Department of Entomology. “To support his growers, he and his students develop, evaluate and communicate strategies to manage pests of peaches and several other commodities. We are indeed fortunate to have him in our department.”
Currently, Blaauw’s primary initiative zeroes in on reducing the burden caused by the No. 1 pest concern for peach growers in Georgia — San Jose scale. Through a collaborative effort, Blaauw’s lab has tackled this pest head on.
Addressing real-world issues growers face each day allows Blaauw to give his students valuable experience focusing on real-time concerns, including supporting the vineyards in Georgia’s blossoming wine industry.
“It is my strong belief that the futures of science and agriculture will heavily rely on the excellent education of our communities,” said Blaauw. “With its university and extension services, UGA is an amazing resource for educating our students and communities.”
A native of southwest Michigan, Blaauw earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kalamazoo College, a master’s degree in science from Western Michigan University, and a doctorate from Michigan State University. His doctoral research focused on the evaluation of plant composition and habitat size on the effectiveness of native plant conservation strips for sustainable enhancement of beneficial insect communities and their ecosystem services in agroecosystems.
Blaauw hopes to inspire the next generation of applied scientists by providing students hands-on experience in fruit production within the region, hiring undergraduate students to perform research in his lab and orchard each summer.
“It is amazing to watch the students grow, even over just the course of a summer, as they experience entomology in real-world agricultural contexts,” said Blaauw. “These students may not ever become applied scientists, but I can tell that they leave the lab with a newfound appreciation for entomology and agriculture, and that makes me feel good.”
For more information on Fruit Growers News’ 2020 Fruit and Vegetable 40 Under 40 class, visit fruitgrowersnews.com/40under40. To learn more about the UGA Department of Entomology, see ent.uga.edu.