Published on 10/14/21

FAO chief scientist to highlight ag technology in 2021 D.W. Brooks Lecture

By Leslie Matos

Chief scientist of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Ismahane Elouafi is set to deliver the talk at this year's D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards, which will be held virtually Nov. 2.

Elouafi’s lecture, “How science, technology and innovation can accelerate the transformation of our agri-food systems,” will highlight the advancement of e-agriculture and it’s benefits for farming around the world.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Ismahane Elouafi will deliver the 2021 D.W. Brooks lecture,” said Victoria Collins McMaken, coordinator of international programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) at the University of Georgia. “As the first ever chief scientist at FAO, she is uniquely well-positioned to share with our audience the urgency of utilizing science and technology to accelerate our global progress towards achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.”

A UGA Signature Lecture and CAES Signature Event, the D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards showcases outstanding faculty contributions, fosters community and industry collaboration, and spotlights the college’s impact on a global scale. 

“We are excited to be hosting Dr. Ismahane Elouafi as this year’s lecturer. Her work in agricultural research and development is a shining example of the innovation we are seeking to celebrate through the D.W. Brooks Lecture. I am looking forward to hearing her thoughts on technology’s role in moving our food systems forward and ensuring continued productivity in agriculture,” said CAES Dean and Director Nick Place.

“The D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards is a time for us to recognize faculty members who excel in teaching, research, extension, public service, diversity, and international agricultural and environmental sciences,” Place added. “Our CAES faculty members are working to address critical issues in our world today and we’re looking forward to this opportunity to recognize the outstanding efforts of this year’s award winners.”

2021 award winners

The D.W. Brooks Awards recognize faculty who make outstanding contributions to the college's critical mission areas.

The 2021 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension goes to Jacob Price, UGA Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agent and Lowndes County coordinator. Price began his Extension career focusing on horticulture and green industry issues, and he has led multiple programs for commodities in the green industry, row crops, vegetables and emerging state crops like citrus.

The 2021 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching goes to Marin Brewer, associate professor of mycology in the Department of Plant Pathology. Brewer teaches two courses on fungi at UGA every year, and her research focuses on the evolution and diversity of fungal threats to plants and people. Her lab focuses especially on the evolutionary processes that contribute to population-level diversity, the formation of new species and species diversification.

The 2021 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension goes to Scott Monfort, Extension peanut agronomist and UGA Peanut Team leader on the Tifton campus. Monfort specializes in developing cost-effective crop management systems including seed quality, cultivar evaluation, tillage systems and precision agriculture technologies. His primary role is to provide support to county Extension agents in all peanut-producing counties, providing research-based recommendations to help Georgia peanut growers remain economically viable.

The 2021 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Diversity goes to Shavannor Smith, associate professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Plant Pathology. Smith’s research focuses on the structure, function and evolution of plant disease resistance genes and pathogen virulence genes to understand plant defense mechanisms. Smith has been instrumental in recruiting and supporting students from underrepresented groups and is an advocate for creating inclusive and equitable learning environments to improve innovation and creativity in the sciences.

The 2021 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Research goes to Zenglu Li, Georgia Seed Development Professor in Soybean Breeding and Genetics in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Li’s research interests are focused on the development of soybean varieties using an integrated classical and molecular breeding approach, the discovery of innovative genetic and genomic solutions to abiotic and biotic limitations of soybean productivity, and the use of genomic and phenomic technologies to improve selection efficiency.

The event's namesake

The event is named in honor of the late D.W. Brooks who founded Gold Kist Inc. and started Cotton States Mutual Insurance Companies in 1941. Among his many honors, he was the first inductee into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame, and the college hosts this annual event in celebration of D.W. Brooks’ memory.

The event will be held as a Zoom webinar at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2. To learn more and to register, visit

Leslie Matos is a UGA public relations major and student writer for the CAES Office of Marketing and Communications.

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