University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

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Department News

2014 Peaslee Outstanding Graduate Student Award

LEXINGTON, KY (May 5th, 2014) - This year, in conjunction with the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences Graduate Program’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, Atanas Radkov was honored with the Doyle E. Peaslee Award, given to an outstanding graduate student in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. Atanas, a Soil Science PH.D candidate, is pictured receiving his award from his advisor, Dr Mark Coyne.

Doyle Peaslee was a long-time member of our faculty and this award was established by his family in his memory. The basis for the award is: high GRE scores, good grades, research strength, and potential for “contributions to US agriculture.” Eligible students were those enrolled for the 2013-2014 academic year in Crop Science, Plant Physiology, and Soil Science PhD programs; students in the Plant and Soil Science M.S. graduate program; and students in either IPSS program whose advisor is a faculty member in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. The award has been given periodically since 1991 and consists of a small honorarium and an engraved plate with the student’s name posted in the department.

Recent previous winners include:

2010-11 Martin Navarro
2011-12 Jonathan Judy
2012-13 Yang Yang


photo of Atanas Radkov and Dr Mark Coyne (Click on image to enlarge)


2014 Distinguished Alumni Award

LEXINGTON, KY (May 5th, 2014) - Each year the department sets aside time in the spring semester to celebrate our graduate programs. Part of that celebration is the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award for a graduate from our programs. On April 25, 2014, the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, recognized Dr. Qingshun Li, a former student and graduate of the Plant Physiology program as its 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Dr. Li was the honored guest speaker for the department's weekly seminar series. A dinner with current graduate students on Thursday evening and a reception immediately following the seminar were also held in conjunction with his visit.

Dr. Li received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Xiamen University, China, and his doctorate from the University of Kentucky in 1995. He was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky, 1995-1996. Dr. Li became a principal investigator for the Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center at the University of Kentucky before joining Miami-OH University in Oxford in 2001 where he is currently a full professor in botany and the director of the graduate program in cell, molecular and structural biology (CSMB). He also holds the position of Dean at Xiamen University in China. Li’s research focuses on the molecular biology and biochemistry of plant mRNA polyadenylation, essential for gene expression. His work has important implications for basic research and applications in agriculture. Dr. Li has published 50 + peer-reviewed papers and many more in interdisciplinary journals outside of plant biology with high impact factors, including Nucleic Acids Research, BMC Genomics and BMC Bioinformatics.


photo of Dr Qingshun Li photo of Qingshun Li, with current PSS faculty (Click on images to enlarge)


Strong Market Demand for Plant Science Degrees Projected

LEXINGTON, KY (March 24, 2014) - The CSAW, a consortium of both agri-business and agriclutural academic societies has released the results of their recent survey:

"U.S. Ag Scientists Hiring Needs Outlined for Top Six Largest Life Science Companies

In 2013, CSAW (The Coalition for a Sustainable Agricultural Workforce) conducted (through a third party research firm) a confidential survey among CSAW member companies to better understand their projected, near-term needs for hiring domestic agricultural scientists.

>>CSAW 2013 Agricultural Science Workforce Census Final Report
>>CSAW 2013 Agricultural Science Workforce Census Executive Summary Presentation

Answers from the six largest responding CSAW life science companies show they expect to hire more than 1,000 domestic scientist-level FTEs between now and 2015, representing 13% of their current agricultural scientist workforce. The largest numbers of ag scientists to hire (84% of the total) in the life-science focused identified disciplines were: plant sciences, plant breeding/genetics, and plant protection.
Nearly half (46%) will need to hold doctoral degrees. These companies are concerned about their ability to successfully fill this workforce need between now and 2015. In each of those three major disciplines, virtually all respondents concurred that:

  • The pipeline of graduates in this discipline isn't as full as it needs to be.
  • We anticipate challenges in finding quality applicants.
  • We are likely to have difficulty hiring the education and experience we seek.
  • We will need to retrain some hires in this discipline.

CSAW was organized by a consortium of agribusiness companies and scientific societies to promote the education and training of future generations of the agricultural workforce. These data suggest there may be both a long-term and very near-term issue in finding the skill and talent needed to ensure a sustainable agricultural enterprise."

Read more at the source for this post at:


PSS Extension Specialist Assists USDA Research On Subsurface Poultry Litter Application

PRINCETON, KY (March 19, 2014) - “When used wisely, poultry litter is a valuable resource,” said Edwin Ritchey, UK extension soil scientist. “It provides nutrients to the soil, eases environmental concerns and, in many cases, is cost effective.”

Current surface broadcast application methods, however, leave an unpleasant smell and pose environmental concerns.

A new method injects dry litter directly into the soil by using a subsurface litter application implement developed by USDA-ARS researchers. Karamat Sistani, a soil scientist and research leader with the USDA-ARS in Bowling Green, has worked on developing this poultry litter subsurface application technology for the past 10 to 12 years with fellow USDA-ARS scientists.

A two-year study conducted by Sistani, Jason Simmons, PSS Graduate student and USDA-ARS biological science technician; Dan Pote, USDA-ARS soil scientist in Booneville, Ark. and Ritchey found the subsurface application of poultry litter had a huge advantage over the traditional application methods in terms of improved air quality and runoff nutrient reduction.

Read the full story at -


photo of Edwin Ritchey photo of Jason Simmons photo of Karamat Sistani, USDA image (Click on image to enlarge)


Professor Emeritus A.J. Powell

LEXINGTON, KY (February 18th, 2014) - Dr. A.J. Powell, Jr., University of Kentucky’s Turf Extension Specialist from 1975-2010 passed away unexpectedly on October 30, 2013.  He was 74 years old.  He is survived by a wife of 51 years, Janie Singleton Powell, two children, Jeff (Ann) and Julie and a granddaughter, Lily Jane, four sisters, and numerous other relatives.

A.J. was born in Lacie, Henry County, Kentucky in 1939 and graduated from Campbellsburg High School in 1957. He received his B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Kentucky in 1961 and his M.S. in in Agronomy (soil fertility) from U.K. in 1963.  A.J. continued his studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institure and completed his Ph.D. in turfgrass physiology in 1966.  He served 2 years in the Army in El Paso, Texas and worked at the University of Maryland before returning home to the University of Kentucky in 1975.

In addition to his love for his family and Henry County, he truly loved his work in Turfgrass Science. 

photo of Dr A J Powel (Click on image to enlarge)


2014 Great Teacher Award Recipients Include PSS Faculty for Second Consecutive Year

LEXINGTON, KY (January 8th, 2014) - For the second year in a row, the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, has been honored to have a faculty member selected for the highly coveted award ‘UK’s Great Teacher of the Year’ given to only six recipients each year.  One of last year’s 2013 recipients was Professor John Grove.  Just last month, another PSS faculty member, Mark Coyne, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies for the IPSS graduate program, was greeted with a pleasant surprise during a class he was teaching, as he was named one of 2014’s Great Teachers at the University of Kentucky.

The nominations are made by students. Selection is awarded to six recipients by the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Awards Committee, in cooperation with student organizations Omicron Delta Kappa and Mortar Board each year for outstanding teaching, presenting them with Great Teacher Awards. Each professor is awarded a citation, an engraved plaque, and a $3,000 cash award.  It is the oldest award teachers can receive from the University, having been given continuously since 1961.

The University of Kentucky Alumni Association will formally present its 2014 Great Teacher Awards to this year’s recipients at a recognition dinner, followed by an appearance at Rupp Arena’s center court during halftime at a UK men’s basketball game in the coming months.

photo of Dr Mark Coyne (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS PhD Candidate Tackles New Challenges as a USDA FAS International Agricultural Intern

LEXINGTON, KY (November 26th, 2013) - Earlier this fall, Graduate student John Orlowski chose to interrupt his academic studies here in Lexington for an amazing work abroad learning experience.  Once John discovered the possibility for overseas work he  decided to make a leap of faith and take the job with the USDA in China working with the U.S Embassy.  This is not John’s first international trip this year, as he and several other University of Kentucky students in Professor Chad Lee’s Plant and Soil Sciences grain crops program also made a eight day trip to Argentina in February to study no-till crop production there.  Perhaps this previous international field work gave John the confidence to take the multi-month appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing China?

Since October Orlowski has been employed by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, or FAS, as an International Agricultural Intern.  Since starting his new post John has attended an aquaculture harvest event with the U.S. Soybean Export Council (U.S. produced soybean is the basis of the fish food), and the US/China Poultry and Swine summits.  The FAS has five Agricultural Trade Offices across China with the goal of helping promote/introduce US produce imports like dairy, deciduous fruits, and tree nuts.  October marked a milestone for these ongoing trade efforts with the arrival of the first bulk shipments of sorghum.  John has been and is currently tasked with writing several commodity reports discussing opening market access and developing potential trade opportunities for US producers.  The last several days he has also been assisting preparations for the upcoming visit of Vice President Biden and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack.Besides keeping busy working in China’s national capital John has squeezed in some sightseeing visiting the great wall and several other regional cities such as Shanghai and even Seoul, South Korea.

John has proven himself a leader and great asset to his graduate program here in Lexington; serving to help and mentor many in his role as a teaching assistant and his activities in organizing the graduate student club in the department. When his international agriculture internship is complete his fellow students, colleagues, and instructors all anticipate his return to U of K and the Crop Science Ph.D. program so that they too can learn and benefit from his adventures in agriculture on the other side of the world!

Link to the first post in John's China travel blog -


photo of John Orlowski near the Great Wall in China photo of John Orlowski at aquaculture harvest event in China photo of John Orlowski (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Faculty to Teach Experiential Education Class in Wine Appreciation

LEXINGTON, KY (June 17th, 2013) -As interest in vineyards and wineries in the state has seen a resurgence in recent years, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has assisted producers in the re-establishment of these enterprises. This fall, the college will begin assisting on another level – by offering courses that will enhance career opportunities for students interested in entering the industry.

UK specialists have always helped grape growers improve profitability and grape and wine quality. They work with growers to plant vineyard varieties, teach pruning techniques and answer production questions. They also help wineries in their quests to make award-winning wines. With vineyard size and overall industry impact increasing throughout the state, the industry vitally needs professionals trained in this field. The college’s new courses will respond to that need.

These courses will serve students in such diverse areas as horticulture, plant and soil science, agricultural economics and hospitality management. The extensive family farm experience of faculty and specialists will provide students the opportunity to develop skills they can use in both the production and the hospitality industries, whether that is in local wineries or international companies.

The first offering will be an experiential education class in wine appreciation for students 21 and older.

“As teachers, we look for ideas that students find interesting and relevant and that provide something they can build on as they go through the rest of their lives,” said Plant and Soil Sciences Professor Mike Barrett, who will teach the course. “This course fits into the surge in wine interest I see happening in Kentucky and, really, the entire country.”

Wineries are a part of agritourism, which is an important aspect of the agriculture landscape in Kentucky. Nearly all wineries in Kentucky use a tasting room, and Barrett sees his course providing knowledgeable staff to run them. The wine appreciation course lecture topics will include wine history, viticulture, winemaking and an overview of the major wine producing areas of the world. Exercises will develop the student’s nose and palate. A field trip is planned to a local vineyard and winery, so students can see the process from grape to wine. They will also have a chance to discuss winemaking with the winemaker.

For more, here is a link to complete story from the college news site.

Addtional coverage (July 2nd, 2013) of this story from the Lexington Herald-Leader here.

photo of Mike Barrett (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Forage Group's Switchgrass Project a Success

LEXINGTON, KY (June 5th, 2013) - In 2007, Plant and Soil Sciences Department Fforage specialists, East Kentucky Power Cooperative personnel and 20 farmers in northeastern Kentucky began a pilot project looking at the biomass potential of switchgrass, a warm-season forage native to Kentucky.

Several factors have limited the current biomass market, but Ray Smith, UK extension forage specialist, said the project was still a success.

“We learned a whole lot and found some useful applications for the forage until a consistent biomass market develops,” said Smith, who was the primary investigator on the project.

The research project, directed by UK hay specialist Tom Keene and funded by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, has yielded better recommendations for establishing switchgrass as forage, an economic spreadsheet farmers can utilize to determine if switchgrass would be a good option for their operation, documented environmental benefits of the crop and possibly a more cost effective way to make the product easier to transport and handle.

Smith said half of the original group of farmers still have productive stands of switchgrass and are cutting it for hay or grazing cattle on it, as it thrives during the hot, dry months of summer when cool-season grasses struggle. He said the producers were extremely pleased with switchgrass’ production and quality during the 2012 drought.

“One of the primary reasons why we selected switchgrass for this project was because it showed great promise as a dual purpose crop,” Smith said.

UK researchers found that producers could take an early cutting of switchgrass for hay and harvest it in late fall for a biomass crop without a significant yield loss, which is promising if a market develops. Former UK graduate student David Davis conducted a study in 2011 that showed when switchgrass is harvested at a leafy stage, it has acceptable digestibility and protein that growing steers need.

To learn more, here is a link to complete story from the college news site.

photo of Ray Smith photo of Tom Keene (Click on images to enlarge)


Professor Emeritus Paul Cornelius

LEXINGTON, KY (May 13th, 2013) - Dr. Paul L. Cornelius, 76, husband of Barbara Jones Cornelius, passed away peacefully on May 11, 2013 in Lexington, KY from complications associated with Alzheimer's disease. Born in Davenport Iowa, he was the son of the late Alice Wilcox Cornelius and Gilbert Cornelius. Paul and his brother Jerry grew on the family farm near Bellevue, Iowa. At Iowa State University, Paul received a BS in Agronomy in 1958 and an MS in Crop Breeding in 1959. He was a partner in his family's Cornelius Seed Corn Company from 1960 to 1969 where he conducted applied research in corn breeding, seed corn production, and processing. In 1972 he received a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics with a minor in Biometry at the University of Illinois. Later that year he joined the University of Kentucky faculty in Statistics and Agronomy where he conducted extensive research on multiplicative models for genotype x environment interaction. He directed 7 PhD and 1 MS students, served on 39 graduate committees, performed statistical consulting for hundreds of additional student and faculty, and taught courses in Genetics, Basic Statistics, Statistical Genetics, Multiple Regression and Correlation, and Design and Analysis of Experiments I and II. He published 106 refereed journal articles and 8 book chapters and became a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy in 1993 and of the Crop Science Society of America 1994. Paul took great satisfaction in helping and teaching others. Plant breeding was a passion for Paul. During his career in Kentucky he remained active as a part-time consultant with Cornelius Seed overseeing a successful corn breeding nursery until he retired in 2009. He was the father of beloved children Daniel (deceased) and Sarah (Richard) Burger of Nashville, TN. He is survived by his beloved wife, daughter and granddaughter Sidney Burger and sister-in-law, Wanda Cornelius of Bellevue, IA. He was a faithful member of Tates Creek Christian Church.

Here is a link to his obituary as it appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

photo of Paul Cornelius (Click on image to enlarge)


2013 Peaslee Outstanding Graduate Student Award

LEXINGTON, KY (May 10th, 2013) - The graduate student awards dinner was held in the Boone Faculty Center on the evening of April 18th.The Doyle Peaslee Outstanding Graduate Student Award was presented to Yang Yang, a Soil Science PH.D candidate.

In August 2010, Yang Yang joined the Ph.D. program in Soil Physics in our department. She received her B.S. degree in 2007 in the School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, China, and she worked on agricultural non-point source pollution under Dr. Baoyuan Liu for her M.S. degree which she received from the same institution in 2010. In her research project here in Kentucky, she investigates the impact of land use and rainfall characteristics on transport of surface-applied chemicals through soil under the supervision of Dr. Ole Wendroth. In her field experiments, Yang successfully applies new scale-dependent experimental approaches to address effects of soil spatial variability underlying the transport processes for different rainfall regimes. She has been presenting her work at national and international conferences, and her first article entitled “Field-Scale Bromide Leaching as Affected by Land Use and Rain Characteristics” has been accepted for publication in Soil Science Society of America Journal. She is an outstanding asset to the Soil Physics program and continues the line of many great Peaslee Award winners in our department.

Doyle Peaslee was a long-time member of the Agronomy faculty and this award was established by his family in his memory. The basis for the award is: high GRE scores, good grades, research strength, and potential for “contributions to US agriculture. “ The award consists of a small honorarium and an engraved plate with the student’s name posted in the department.

photo of Yang Yang and Dr Ole Wendroth (Click on image to enlarge)


2013 Distinguished Alumni Award

LEXINGTON, KY (May 10th, 2013) - Each year the department sets aside time in the spring semester to celebrate our graduate programs. Part of that celebration is the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award for a graduate from our programs.  This spring we honored Dr. Michael DeFelice who received his Ph.D. Degree in Weed Science from the University of Kentucky in 1985.

After completing his degree Dr. DeFelice joined the faculty of the Department of Agronomy at the University of Missouri as an Assistant Professor.  There he established an herbicide evaluation and testing field program, taught classes, provided extension service, and conducted weed control research.  He won numerous teaching awards during this period of time, in part for his willingness to incorporate multi-media techniques into his labs.  His commitment to weed identification and education and service are also apparent in his efforts to develop the Southern Weed Science Society’s ‘Weeds of the Southern United States’ CD-ROM/DVD and his co-authoring of two books: Weeds of the South (2009) and Weeds of Midwestern United States and Central Canada (2010).  These materials are widely used for instruction and as a reference for extension personnel and weed scientists.  In 1995 Dr. DeFelice left the University of Missouri to take a position with Pioneer Hi-Bred International, now the largest producer of hybrid seeds for agriculture in the USA.  He is currently their Senior Manager for Global Strategic Planning.

The graduate student awards dinner was held in the Boone Faculty Center on the evening of April 18th.  Professor Emeritus Bill Witt, Michael’s graduate advisor was in attendance to see his former student recognized for his achievements.  The following day, April 19th, Dr. DeFelice presented the Distinguished Alumnus Lecture in the Cameron Williams Lecture Hall.  His seminar was entitled “Seeds and Pests: The Underground War”.  This was an interdisciplinary view on the present and future opportunities and challenges regarding seed technology and delivery and agronomy in general.  The presentation was well attended by faculty, staff and current students from the department and college.  Among the audience was Dr. Dennis Egli from Michael’s Ph.D. review committee.  After the talk a reception was held in the lobby of the Plant Science Building.

photo of Bill Witt and Michael DeFelice photo of Bill Witt, Todd Pfeiffer and Michael DeFelice (Click on images to enlarge)


PSS Soil Scientists Investigate Soil Ammendments as Way to Lower Fragipan Depth

LEXINGTON, KY (March 26th, 2013) - A fragipan is a cement-like layer found in some soils. Soils containing this layer are common throughout the major crop production areas of Kentucky, and they limit grain crops’ yield potential, especially during dry seasons. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture soil scientist John Grove is conducting a study that will look at potential ways to move the fragipan layer deeper in the soil profile and increase corn and soybean yields.

“Many of the fragipan soils in Kentucky are rated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service as Class II or III soils and only about two-thirds of them are being actively farmed or pastured,” Grove said. “My vision for this study is that we will learn a way to add value to the soil and help growers move their ground to a higher level of productivity.”

About 250,000 acres of Kentucky soybeans are on grown on fragipan soils. The fragipan affects crop yields by causing excessive moisture during wet periods in the spring. This can delay planting or result in compaction caused by “mudding in” a crop. In addition, fragipan soils increase the probability that the plant will experience drought stress during dry periods that are normally experienced during a Kentucky summer. Fragipan restricts plant root growth, and roots cannot reach available water deeper in the soil. In addition, Kentucky’s fragipan subsoils are often acidic...for the complete story see this.

photo of John Grove (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Professor Heads Comprehensive Poultry Litter Study

PRINCETON, KY (March 20th, 2013) - Previous research studies have shown poultry litter applications have many benefits for corn and soybean producers, but these benefits have not been quantified or integrated into one comprehensive research study. UK College of Agriculture researchers are doing just that.

UK extension soils specialist Edwin Ritchey is leading the study to explore whether poultry litter applications can increase yield, allow for better water infiltration, improve soil water-holding capacity and add organic matter to the soil in Western Kentucky corn and soybean operations. He will also study whether one of the crops receives more value from the poultry litter, if nutrient values vary among poultry litter sources and if producers receive a yield boost from applying both poultry litter and nitrogen to their fields. “This research should determine whether poultry litter, in addition to providing plant nutrients, can improve soil quality without adversely affecting insects, diseases and weeds,” Ritchey said. “If it can, and if producers can economically obtain it, it might be preferred over a strict use of commercial fertilizers.” Read the complete College of Ag news item here.

photo of Edwin Ritchey (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Soil Science Extension and Graduate Continue the Work of Saving Topsoil

LEXINGTON, KY (February 8th, 2013) - The work of Western Kentucky's UK extension soils specialist Lloyd Murdock and Steve Higgins, (2004 Ph.D. graduate of UK Soil Science, and the College of Agriculture's director of animal and environmental compliance). to minimize soil erosion from both water and wind is still as important now as the work of UK Agronomist E.N. Fergus back in the 1930's. It was Fergus who discovered and promoted the "wonder grass", KY 31 tall fescue, which many believe kept much of the soil in the Tennessee and Ohio valleys in place during the great Dust Bowl.

Today no-till practices for crop production and mud reduction strategies for livestock spaces are some of the current soil conservation methods being promoted...for the complete story see Soil Savers.

photo of Lloyd Murdock (Click on image to enlarge)


2013 Great Teacher Award Recipients

LEXINGTON, KY (December 10th, 2012) - Six University of Kentucky professors have recently been named recipients of the UK Alumni Association 2013 Great Teacher Award.
The recipients are:

  • Karen Badger, associate professor, College of Social Work
  • Dr. Roberta Dwyer, professor, College of Agriculture
  • Samuel Franklin, assistant professor, College of Medicine
  • John Grove, professor, College of Agriculture
  • Armando Prats, professor, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Gerald Smith, associate professor, College of Arts & Sciences

The recipients will be honored at the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Recognition Dinner on Feb. 5, 2013. They will then be honored on center court of Rupp Arena during the South Carolina vs. Kentucky men’s basketball game later that evening.
Started in 1961, the Great Teacher Award is the oldest continuous award that recognizes teaching at UK. The nominations are made by students. Selection of the award recipients is made by the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa. Great Teacher Award recipients each receive a citation, an engraved plaque, and a cash award.

photo of John Grove (Click on image to enlarge)


Plant and Soil Sciences Graduate Students Receive Presentation Awards at SSSA

LEXINGTON, KY (October 30th, 2012) - Three graduate students in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences took home prizes awarded for best oral and poster presentations at the Soil Science Society of America annual meeting October 21-24 in Cincinnati, OH. First and second place in the graduate student poster presentation category in soil chemistry went to Sewwandi Rathnayke and Jessique Ghezzi.  Sewwandi, a M.S. student with Paul Bertsch, won the competition with her poster entitled “Transformations of ZnO Nanoparticles in Waste Water Treatment, Biosolids, and Soil.  Jessi , a Ph.D. student with Tasios Karathanasis , took second place with her poster entitled “Soil Nanocolloid Properties and Metal Contaminant Transport Behavior”.  Jonathan Judy, a Ph.D. student with Paul Bertsch, took second place in the oral presentation category in soil chemistry with his presentation entitled “Bioavailability of Nanomaterials to Plants: Importance of Particle Size and Surface Coating”.  These outstanding  results are a testimony to the quality of our students and their research in our soil science program.

photo of Sewwandi Rathnayke photo of Jessique Ghezzi photo of Jonathan Judy photo of Paul Bertsch photo of Tasios Karathnasis (Click on images to enlarge)


Soil Science Graduate Students Participate in ‘DirtFest’

LOUISVILLE, KY (May 12th, 2012) - PLS faculty and students are always looking for outreach opportunities. On May 12 four students (Jonathan Judy, Rick Lewis, Emily Oostveen, Annie Whitley) in various Plant and Soil Science graduate programs travelled to the Parklands of Floyd’s Fork in Louisville to present at the inaugural “DirtFest” sponsored by the Louisville Science Center. During the four hour program the students introduced basic concepts of soil science to over 50 visitors, ranging from toddlers to adults, while conducting activities like: extracting soil fauna (earthworms) using hot mustard; removing soil cores with a hand sampler and studying soil profiles, examining plant root nodules with microscopes; exploring soil biological activity by making Winogradsky Columns; tasting edible models of the porous soil structure.

“The kids that came were so excited to participate and get their hands dirty using basic methods that soil scientists regularly use. The parents were equally fascinated as they watched and listened to our activities.” ~Emily Oostveen

“The kids were fun, energetic and made soil science fun! Both kids and parents seemed to be equally interested in learning about soil ecosystems.” ~ Annie Whitley

“DirtFest was a great opportunity to talk to kids and their parents about soil/play in the dirt. There were little league soccer games going on in the park during the event, so we had a lot of participation as the kids finished with their games and came by. “ ~ Jonathan Judy

photo of UK Soil Science display at Dirtfest photo of elementary age girl looking at soil under a microscope photo of Jonathan Judy photo of Ricky Lewis photo of Emily Oosteveen photo of Annie Whitley(Click on image to enlarge)


2012 PSS Distinguished Alumni Award

LEXINGTON, KY (May 10th, 2012) - This year’s recipient of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences graduate programs Distinguished Alumni Award is Mr. Craig Hanson. Craig received his MS Degree in 1977 studying weed science with his thesis “Factors Affecting Rhizome Johnsongrass Control with N-(phosphonomethyl) Glycine” under the guidance of Dr. Charles Reick. He has since had a distinguished career as a scientist and leader with Dow AgroSciences. Craig Hanson began working for Dow AgroSciences in 1980 as a Field Research Scientist for Indiana and has held a progression of positions with the company. Included among those were Field Station Leader – Mississippi, Latin American Research and Development Director, Global HR Leader for Research and Development, Global Weed Management Research and Development leader, Global Crops Research and Development Leader, and Global Research and Development Operations Leader. As Field Research Leader Craig was responsible for a field research staff of 300 people in 34 countries. As Global Research and Development Operations Leader he provided support as Dow AgroSciences expanded into new technologies including seed and traits biotechnology investing $340 million in facilities and adding 550 positions. Craig Hanson’s successes with Dow AgroSciences highlight the influence of graduates from our programs in our agriculture industry. Craig presented the Distinguished Alumni seminar “The Science of Observation” April 20, 2012.

This presentation was webcast lilve to Princeton and Quicksand Ky. To see the archived version follow this link:

photo of Craig Hanson (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Extension Courses Pay Off for Kentucky Beef Farmer

MURRAY, KY (March 15th, 2012) - Feeding hay to cattle throughout the winter has been a longstanding practice among Kentucky producers. Many could not fathom what it would be like to feed little or no hay in December, January and February. But it’s a reality for one Murray producer thanks to the practices he learned through University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service programs.

“In Kentucky, we historically have had a continuous grazing program,” said Garry Lacefield, UK extension forage specialist. “The changes have come about because of better fencing, better watering systems and the knowledge that if we do a better job of controlling our grazing management systems we can do a lot better job using more pasture in a higher quality state over more days of the year.”

Greg Reynolds attended the 2010 Kentucky Grazing School at UK Research and Education Center in Princeton. At the school, Lacefield taught Reynolds about extending the grazing season by stockpiling tall fescue and rotational- and strip-grazing cattle.

See the complete COA news story at:

photo of Garry Lacefield (Click on image to enlarge)


Husband and Wife Professors Receive Top Honor From Weed Science Society

WAIKOLOA, HI (February 6th, 2012) - Carol Baskin and Jerry Baskin received the Honorary Member Award from the Weed Science Society of America. The Honorary Member Award is the most prestigious award that WSSA bestows on scientists that make significant contributions to the field of Weed Science and are not members of the Society.

Carol and Jerry Baskin received their Ph.D. degrees from Vanderbilt University in 1968 and 1967, respectively, and were married in the Vanderbilt chapel in August 1968. They have worked together as a team since graduate school days, publishing their first paper (on seed dormancy and germination in two annual grasses) in 1967.  The Baskins came to the University of Kentucky in 1968, where they have spent their entire careers.  Carol is a professor in the departments of Biology and Plant and Soil Sciences (joint appointment). After 43 years of teaching and research, Jerry retired as professor of Biology on 30 June 2011.  He is now spending much of his time writing research papers, many of which are in collaboration with foreign colleagues and graduate students.  Carol grew up on a tobacco farm near the foothills of the southern Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina and Jerry on a soybean/cotton farm a few miles from the Mississippi River in southwestern Tennessee.  Both attribute their interest in weed biology, and in plant biology in general, to these formative years of field work.

Their primary research effort has been on whole-seed dormancy and germination of herbaceous species, including a long list of weeds.  However, starting with their dissertation  research, they have spent a considerable amount of time doing field, greenhouse, and laboratory research on plant life histories (especially of rare and endemic taxa), floristics, biogeography, and community ecology of cedar (limestone) glades and xeric limestone prairies (“rocky barrens”) in southeastern USA.  During the past 10 years or so, they have been collaborating on seed research with colleagues in several institutions in China, Taiwan, and elsewhere, and especially at Xinjiang Agriculture University in northwest China, where each of them holds the title of “Visiting Professor.”

The Baskins have published more than 450 papers and book chapters and about 60 book reviews.  Approximately 100 of the papers are co-authored with graduate students.  Their best known and most widely cited publication is Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination (Academic Press, 1998; paperback, 2001), for which they received the New York Botanical Garden Henry Allan Gleason Award for an “outstanding recent publication in the field of plant taxonomy, plant ecology of plant geography” in 1999.  The book is currently under revision.  Carol and Jerry have given many workshops and invited lectures in the USA and 15 foreign countries.  They have served on editorial boards of nine journals, reviewed manuscript for about 125 different journals, and held offices in three societies, including the Botanical Society of America (BSA), of which Carol was president in 1998/1999.  In 2001, each of them received a Merit Award from BSA, the highest award given by that society.

The award was given February 6th at the annual meeting of the Weed Science Society of America. Presenting the award was Mike Barrett, President of the Weed  Science Society of America.

photo of Mike Barrett, Carol Baskin, and Jerry Baskin (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Extension Specialist's Work Could Increase Yields for Wheat Farmers

LEXINGTON, KY (January 6th, 2012) - Remote-sensing technology uses sensors to measure crop canopy conditions and apply the appropriate amount of nitrogen to a particular area as the tractor passes through the field. This technology helps ensure the areas that need nitrogen get it and cuts down on unnecessary applications in areas of the field with sufficient amounts, rather than producers making a blanket application across the field based on the field’s average nitrogen needs.

Since this is new technology, only two states, Oklahoma and Virginia, had algorithms for the machine. Neither worked for Kentucky. With funding from the Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association, Lloyd Murdock, UK extension soils specialist, developed one for the state.

“I’m excited that we’re making this technology work for farmers,” he said. “It has increased nitrogen efficiency and yields during field trials the past two years.”

See the complete COA news story at:

photo of Lloyd Murdock (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Professor Bertsch Honored by the National Academies

LEXINGTON, KY (December 22nd, 2011) - A PSS professor recently was named a lifetime National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

Paul Bertsch received this honor from Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, for his contributions and service to the National Academies, which also include the National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine. The National Academies advise the government and public on matters of science, technology and health.

"I have treasured my opportunities to serve the National Academy of Sciences through the National Research Council over the years, and this designation is both a great surprise and honor," said Bertsch, professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology and director of UK’s Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment.

See the complete COA news story at:

photo of Paul Bertsch (Click on image to enlarge)


Department Soil/Environmental Chemists Work Among "Top Research Advances in 2011"

LEXINGTON, KY (December 19th, 2011) - A PSS team of scientists including faculty and graduate students has received national exposure with the spotlighting of their paper regarding nanoparticles in the envrioment.

In their annual Chemical Year in Review, the editors of Chemical and Engineering News (C&E News), a weekly news magazine published by the American Chemical Society, selected a paper published by a team of UK scientists as among the most important research advances in chemistry for 2011. The paper entitled “Evidence for Biomagnification of Gold Nanoparticles within a Terrestrial Food Chain” which was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology in 2011 was authored by Jonathan Judy, a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, along with faculty members Jason Unrine and Paul Bertsch. The paper was the first to provide direct evidence for the transfer of manufactured nanoparticles through the food chain as well as for biomagnification of the nanoparticles, a phenomenon long associated with certain organic contaminants, such as DDT and PCPs and other contaminants, such as mercury. 

Read the onine Chemical and Engineering News magazine stories here:

December 19th 2011:

March 14th 2011 (original coverage of Judy's paper):

photo of Jonathan Judy photo of Jason Unrine photo of Paul Bertsch(Click on images to enlarge)


PSS Professor Leads International Consortium Researching Medical Uses of Plants

LEXINGTON, KY (December 15th, 2011) - PSS plant biochemistry professor Joseph Chappell is the leader of a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded consortium. The Medicinal Plant Consortium (MPC) is comprised of scientists across the nation and around the world. The MPC is tasked with studying how plants genes regulate the biosynthesis of assorted chemical compounds - some of interest for their medicinal properties.

See the complete COA news story at:

photo of Joe Chappell (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Professor Elected Chair of National Advisory Council

LEXINGTON, KY (December 8th, 2011) - PSS Faculty, professor Paul Bertsch, and director of UK’s Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, was elected chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents at its recent semi-annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The council is the leading organization for science and science education leadership development, association advancement and science and science education policy. The council’s associations and affiliate members represent close to 1.5 million scientists and science educators across the United States.

The complete College of Agriculture news story is available at:

photo of Paul Bertsch (Click on image to enlarge)


2011 S.H. Phillips Distinguished Lecture in No-Till Agriculture

LEXINGTON, KY (November 18th, 2011) - Frank Lessiter, editor of No-Till Farmer, was selected by the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences University of Kentucky to deliver the 2011 S.H. Phillips Distinguished Lecture in No-Till Agriculture.
Lessiter delivered his address entitled, "No-Tillage: From 7/10 of an Acre in 1962 to 232 Million Acres Worldwide" at the November 18 program in Lexington.

The award is named for the late Shirley Phillips, a University of Kentucky agronomist, and was established to honor pioneers of the no-till movement. Phillips served as an extension agronomist and then as Associate Dean for Extension. Phillips worked with Harry Young Jr. of Herndon, Ky., in getting the no-till movement started. Young planted the first no-till commercial plot in the U.S. in 1962 near Herndon, Ky. Today, approximately 90 million acres in the U.S. is under no-till production.

"I'm extremely humbled to receive this award after being involved with no-till for 40 years," says Lessiter, who started the newsletter in 1972. "I worked closely with Shirley Phillips in the early days of no-till. He played a critical role in both the introduction and growth of no-till around the world."

Lessiter serves as chairman and editorial director of Lessiter Publications, a company he founded 30 years ago and the parent company of No-Till Farmer. He also is editor and publisher of American Farriers Journal and serves in advisory capacities with the company's other titles.

"The timing of this honor is certainly appropriate, since we're celebrating the 40th anniversary of No-Till Farmer and the 50th anniversary of no-till coming on the scene in the U.S.," says Darrell Bruggink, executive editor and publisher of No-Till Farmer.
The Fall edition of No-Till Farmer's Conservation Tillage Guide will revisit the origins of no-till on Young's farm through the eyes of his son, John, and grandson, Alexander. This special anniversary issue will also look at the top innovations, techniques, products and practices in no-till, as well as the top individuals who influenced no-till's growth, over the last 50 years.

You can learn more about No-Till Farmer by visiting

(Coverage sourced from:


Taylor Clover Collection Donated to USDA

LEXINGTON, KY (November 15th, 2011) - The late PSS Professor Norman Taylor's substantial clover seed collection, the results of almost sixty years work, was donated in February to the USDA to maintain and preserve. The collection was recognized as one the most diverse in the world.

"The UK Department of Plant and Soil Sciences donated Taylor’s collection to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February 2011. The Norman L. Taylor University of Kentucky Clover Collection was designated a special collection by the USDA’s National Plant Germplasm System. The USDA Agricultural Research Service keeps the collection of annual species at the Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit in Griffin, Ga."

To read more:

photo of Norman Taylor (Click on image to enlarge)


2011 KY Grazing Conference Honors Gene Olson

BOWLING GREEN, KY (October 13th, 2011) - The Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council held their annual conference in Bowling Green KY this month. Four individuals were honored for “Excellent in Forages” during the Awards Ceremony at the 12th Kentucky Grazing Conference. Recipients were: KFGC Grassroots Award - Buddy Smith, KFGC Industry - Scott Cooper, KFGC Public Service – County -Lyndall Harned, KFGC Public Service – State - Gene Olson. Congratulations Buddy, Scott, Lyndall and Gene!

photo of Gene Olson photo of Gene Olson receiving award (Click on images to enlarge)


PSS Wheat Scientist Receives Fellow from CSSA and ASA

LEXINGTON, KY (September 15th, 2011) - David Van Sanford, a wheat breeder and professor in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, has been selected a Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.

Fellows are nominated by colleagues to receive these honors. Only 0.3 percent of the members in each society receive this recognition. He will be recognized along with other honorees during the national societies’ annual meetings Oct. 16-19 in San Antonio.

In his breeding program, VanSanford has focused on developing high yielding, scab resistant soft red winter wheat varieties.

“Through his wheat breeding work and his service to the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, Dave Van Sanford is a national leader in the effort to improve wheat’s resistance to Fusarium head blight,” said Todd Pfeiffer, chair of the UK Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. “Being named a fellow of both ASA and CSSA is worthy recognition of his research and administrative talents.”

Read the complete story at:

photo of David Van Sanford (Click on image to enlarge)


College Honors Jack and Weinberger During Staff Appreciation Day

LEXINGTON, KY (September 7th, 2011) - Two PSS departmental staff members, Anne Jack and Glen Weinberger, were presented Outstanding Staff Awards by  the College of Agriculture at the September 7, 2011 Staff Appreciation Day.  The awards are sponsored by Gamma Sigma Delta Agriculture Honorary Society.

Anne Jack, recognized with the Outstanding Staff Award in the Non-faculty Professional category, contributes to the department’s tobacco program coordinating field studies regarding the inheritance of nornicotine formation in burley tobacco and the reduction of tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines in cured leaf.  She is also responsible for many cooperative studies among university researchers from Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky. Her supporting work on the molecular biology of nicotine demethylase is certainly accelerating the progress and ultimate acceptance of GMOs by the tobacco industry.  Anne has an extremely positive attitude and her interactions with visitors, other faculty, staff and student workers are exemplary. On the farm, she often will run between plots or experiments to help others or to do her tasks. To complete many of these tasks requires early morning, after-hour and weekend activity and all these are done with a smile and positive attitude to complete the task well. Anne contributes her talents to CORESTA, an international tobacco organization. In 2010 she was elected to the Scientific Commission, a 20 person board governing the science activities of CORESTA and President of the Phytopathology working group.  CORESTA awarded her the Bronze Medal in 2002 and the Silver Medal in 2008 for her contribution to the organization.

Glen Weinberger, recognized with the Outstanding Staff Award in the Technician category, has been a faithful, dedicated employee of the department working with the tobacco breeding program since 1983. Since 1999 Glen has worked as a Research Analyst with the Kentucky-Tennessee Tobacco Improvement Initiative (KTTII) breeding program.  In addition to supporting the Principal Investigator Tobacco Breeder, he also assists a Scientist II Molecular Geneticist, a Scientist I Plant Pathologist, and a Scientist I Agronomist that are part of the KTTII tobacco breeding team; so his job duties include a broad array of support functions for KTTII.  These duties include both greenhouse and field responsibilities. Glen’s job requires considerable overtime for greenhouse plant management.  He is very organized and does an exceptional job of overseeing the greenhouses. Although it is not part of his job responsibility, Glen often offers to assist other tobacco researchers in management of greenhouse grown plants for their research projects. Glen also handles field seed production managing the seed nurseries and coordinating seed production with the Kentucky Foundation Seed Project, which maintains breeder seed for the program and produces larger amounts of seed for elite advanced hybrid lines.  Glen is recognized for his tremendous work ethic, and he always attempts to exceed expectations in his job assignments. 

photo of Anne Jack photo of Glenn Weinberger (Click on images to enlarge)


2011 Turf Field Day and the A.J. Powell Jr. Turfgrass Science Center

LEXINGTON, KY (July 7th, 2011) - This year's Turf Field Day was a well attended and successful event! See the web gallery to view some of what went on.

The big news of the day was the dedication of the A.J. Powell Jr. Turfgrass Science Center - named after Professor Emeritius A.J. Powell. During his thirty plus year career as a professor wtih UK Powell defined what the current Turfgrass program has grown into. For more on this story see the College's news story:

photo of A.J. Powell powell turf center dedication (Click on images to enlarge)


2011 Distinguished Alumni Awarded To Dale Blevins

LEXINGTON, KY (March 17th, 2011) - We are pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences graduate programs Distinguished Alumni Award is Dr. Dale Blevins. In 1972 Dr. Blevins received his PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Kentucky for his dissertation “The influence of nitrate metabolism on iron uptake and ionic balance in barley seedlings” under the guidance of Dr. A.J. Hiatt.  Dr. Blevins is currently Professor, Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri.  His research has focused on physiological and agronomic aspects of mineral nutrition. Dr. Blevins is a Fellow in the Crop Science Society of America and the Agronomy Society of America.  In 2010 he received the Crop Science Teaching Award from CSSA. Dr. Blevins has advised 10 MS students and 11 PhD students (including Dr. Larry Grabau), and in 2006 he was named the Outstanding Graduate Advisor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri. Dr. Blevins will present at the Distinguished Alumni seminar March 25 in Cameron Williams Auditorium. Link to PSS Seminar calendar :

photo of Dale Blevins (Click on image to enlarge)


Turf Professor Honored for Role as Undergrad Advisor

LEXINGTON, KY (February 25th, 2011) - On February 25th David Williams was honored with the 2011 Ken Freedman Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award.  This award recognizes excellence in advising undergraduate students, and consideration for the award begins with a student nomination of the advisor. David spends considerable time advising turfgrass science students regarding course work, internships (PLS 399), and special problems research (PLS 395). David is one of the multiple faculty members in our department who advise students in all the undergraduate programs in which we participate: HPLS, ABT, NRES, SAG. Previous Ken Freedman award recipients from Plant and Soil Sciences include Glenn Collins and Larry Grabau

photo of David Williams (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Professor Awarded Fellow of the AAAS

LEXINGTON, KY (January 7th, 2011) - Paul Bertsch, a Professor of soil and environmental chemistry in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, UK College of Agriculture and Director of the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment was recently elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific organization. Bertsch was nominated by three sitting fellows and was cited for “Distinguished contributions and scientific leadership to the soil and environmental science disciplines, particularly for work elucidating mechanisms underlying the fate and transport of contaminants.” Being awarded fellow of the AAAS is among the most prestigious honors bestowed on a scientist by his or her peers. “It is a great honor to be elected fellow of AAAS”, Bertsch said. “Recognition of my accomplishments at this level is testimony to the quality students, post docs, and colleagues that I have had the pleasure to work with over my career”. With his election, Bertsch becomes only the 17th AAAS fellow in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and joins two other colleagues in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences to have received this honor, Dr. Dennis Egli and Dr. Joseph Chappell.

photo of Paul Bertsch (Click on image to enlarge)


Switchgrass Research Project

AUGUSTA, KY (January 6th, 2011) - Tom Keene, a forage specialist in the Departmant of Plant and Soil Sciences has been leading a four year study of switchgrass as an alternative fuel source. As this study wrapped up in late 2010 many of the 20 switchgrass growers involved in the project are left wondering what the next chapter will be? Keene believes that switchgrass is a viable option for woodburning heating applications in shops and greenhouses and hopes that the positive progress from the past four years can continue forward.

For complete story:

photo of Tom Keene (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Graduate Student Wins Contest at ASA-CSSA-SSSA 2010 International Meeting

LONGBEACH, CA (November 9th, 2010) - Graduate student Lindsey Slaughter was awarded 1st place in the Students of Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Sciences (SASES) oral research symposium contest at the ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting, held November 1-4, 2010 in Long Beach, CA.  Lindsey is a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master's in Plant and Soil Science at the University of Kentucky. She received her B.S. in Natural Resource Management at the University of Tennessee at Martin. During the meetings, she presented her undergraduate research, entitled "Composting to mitigate institutional waste streams." Her research, with advisor Dr. Paula Gale, Professor of Soil Science, was a two-year study that focused on feasibly establishing a compost operation at the UT-Martin campus, utilizing food waste from the cafeteria and manure/shaving waste from the agricultural pavilion deposited in open windrows on the UT-Martin research farm. Feasibility analysis included studies to examine compost maturity, potential pollution, nutrient content and application methods. Her research concluded that the successfully established composting operation was a viable waste management solution on campus.

photo of graduate student, Lindsey Slaughter (Click on image to enlarge)


Professor Emeritus Norman Taylor

LEXINGTON, KY (October 27th, 2010) - Dr Norman L. Taylor passed away recently, here is his obiturary as it apperared in the Lexington Herald Leader.

TAYLOR Dr. Norman L, 84, of Lexington, husband of Evelyn Osborne Taylor for 59 years, passed away Oct 25, 2010. Dr. Taylor was born July 18, 1926 in Augusta, KY; he was the son of Norman B. and Mabel Taylor. At the age of 18, Dr. Taylor joined the U.S. Merchant Marines and served his country for three years during WW II. After his service he returned to Kentucky to attend the University of Kentucky, where he was able to complete his degree in Marine Engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of Kentucky. He then completed a Master of Science degree at the University of Kentucky in 1951. Dr. Taylor completed his education at Cornell University, where he obtained a PhD. in Agriculture. The University of Kentucky hired Dr. Taylor in 1953. He served his entire 48-year career in the Agronomy Dept. until his retirement in 2001. After his retirement he served in a post-retirement position, and was still actively involved with his research even in 2010. His work was devoted to red clover breeding and genetics. He has extensive publications, including three books, in this area and was curator of the Clover Germplasm Center. The Center is an accumulation of 2,000 accessions and 206 species of clover and is the result of Dr. Taylor collecting clover in many different countries and three diversity centers. He was elected as a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy and was a career long member of the society. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sister, Betty Morrison (Lexington, KY), his brother, David Taylor (Augusta, KY), five children, Sharon Taylor Kester (Lexington, KY), Norman Allen Taylor (Tucson, AZ), Clayton Dean Taylor (Ft. Myers, FL), Steven Glenn Taylor (Kunia, HI) and Kathy Taylor Cseledy (Lexington, KY.) and their spouses, Robert W. Kester, Claudia Taylor, Missy Taylor and David Cseledy, and nine grandchildren; Robert B. Kester, Mary Evelyn Kester, Ashley Taylor Dougherty, Amanda Taylor, Samantha Taylor, Mason Taylor, Ryan Taylor, Jennifer Taylor, and Theo Cseledy. In addition to his career and family related activities, Dr. Taylor was a member of Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church for over 50 years, worked in the Maxwell Street Wood Shop and was a volunteer and member of Friends of the Arboretum. A memorial service will be held on Fri, 1pm at Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church officiated by Rev. Woody Berry, Rev. Kyle Brown, and Rev. Diana Baldwin. Honorary casket bearers will be from the Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church Men's Sunday School Class. Visitation Thu, 5-8pm at Milward-Southland. There will be a private interment at Lexington Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Friends of the Arboretum Children's Garden or Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church.

Read more:

photo of Dr. Norman L. Taylor (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Staff Recognized During 2010 College of Ag Program

LEXINGTON, KY (September 28th, 2010) - We are proud to announce that seven staff members of the Department of Plant and Soil Science were nominated for the 2010 College of Agriculture Outstanding Staff Awards. Bobby Hill (10 years of service) and Anne Jack (8 years of service) were nominated in the Non-faculty Professional category and John Connelley (9 years of service), Laura Harris (24 years of service), Scott Kinison (7 years of service), James Roberts (22 years of service), and Riley Walton (8 years of service) were nominated in the Technician category. We congratulate these individuals on this recognition and thank them for their numerous years of dedicated service to their programs, the department and the college.


PSS Faculty and Students Help Preserve Kentucky History

LEXINGTON, KY (September 2nd, 2010) - Lexington continues with preparations to host the 2010 World Equestrian Games. PSS Soil Science Faculty Mark Coyne with the help of concerned College of Agriculture students is doing his part as well. Their efforts to preserve a neglected historical cemetery will help shed some light on the pioneers of Kentucky's early horse racing industry. Watch the video for more information:


PSS Faculty/Staff Lead International Consortium

LEXINGTON, KY (July 23rd, 2010) - Five Plant and Soil Science Department scientists are part of a newly established consortium that will investigate the environmental and human health implications of nanotechnology. The four-year, $4 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United Kingdom's Environmental Nanoscience Initiative will fund the consortium known as the Transatlantic Initiative for Nanotechnology and the Environment. The consortium will conduct research to determine the environmental behavior, bioavailability and effects of manufactured nanomaterials in ecosystems on land. 

The Kentucky scientists working on the project are Paul Bertsch, Nadine Kabengi, David McNear, Olga Tsyusko and Jason Unrine. In addition, the consortium includes 11 scientists from the United Kingdom, two from Carnegie Mellon University and two from Duke University. Bertsch is the project leader of the consortium.

"Manufactured nanomaterials are increasingly used in consumer products and significant quantities of certain nanomaterials are being released to the environment as a result of this increased usage, eventually ending up in the wastewater stream," Bertsch said.  "Accumulating evidence suggests that sewage sludge or biosolids generated from wastewater treatment will be a major source of manufactured nanomatierals to terrestrial ecosystems."

About 60 percent of the 8 million tons of biosolids annually produced in the United States and the United Kingdom are applied to agricultural lands, and these applications are often made to the same fields year after year. Research has shown more than 90 to 95 percent of certain nanomaterials, such as nanosilver, end up in biosolids. Thus, land-applied biosolids can become an important source of nanomaterials in soil where they can be taken up by microorganisms, nematodes, earthworms or plants, with the potential for transfer up the food chain to animals and humans. Runoff and erosion from agricultural lands receiving biosolid applications can also introduce nanomaterials directly into streams and rivers which could have an adverse effect on aquatic organisms and potentially introduce nanomaterials to drinking water supplies. 

"Our consortium has assembled some of the world's top scientists working on the fate, transport, bioavailability and toxicity of nanomaterials in terrestrial systems, as well as those working in the area of assessing the risks associated with the release of nanomaterials to the environment," Bertsch said.

For complete story:

photo of Paul Bertsch photo of Nadine Kabengi photo of Davdi McNear photo of Olga Tsyusko photo of Jason Unrine image of gold nanoparticles(Click on images to enlarge)

PSS Grad Student Awarded Top Emerging Scientist From Forage Group

LEXINGTON, KY (July 10th, 2010) - Three University of Kentucky College of Agriculture graduate students that are researching forage were awarded the top three spots in the Emerging Scientist competition during the American Forage and Grassland Council’s (AFGC)annual conference in Springfield, Mo., in June. Laura Schwer, graduate student in the College of Agriculture’s Plant and Soil Sciences department and assistant coordinator for UK’s Pasture Evaluation Program, was awarded top honors. Jennifer Johnson, graduate student within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, placed second. Third went to Christin Herbst, graduate student in Animal and Food Sciences. Each participant had to be nominated by an AFGC member to be eligible to attend the conference and contest. The annual conference is attended by forage and livestock producers, agribusinesses, and research, extension, and teaching faculty in crop and animal sciences, agricultural engineering, and other affiliated disciplines. More information about AFGC can be found by visiting

Text for this story sourced from UK's Bluegrass Equine Digest, July 10th, 2010 edition:

photo of Laura Schwer (Click on image to enlarge)


PSS Grad Students Organize Science Saturday

LEXINGTON, KY (June 2nd, 2010) - Science Saturday was held on May 22nd on the University of Kentucky Campus in the E.S. Good Barn. The Plant and Soil Sciences Graduate Student Association (PSSGSA) organized this event in collaboration with the Association of Plant Pathologist Scholars (APPS). Science Saturday showcased the graduate students’ diverse areas of study, bringing to the forefront for the visiting students the many different aspects of our science. The event was very successful with 169 middle and high school student participants from Fayette and Boyle Counties. Visit the photo gallery here. View an online video of the event here.

Dr. Donald Frazier, Department of Physiology, discussed DNA science related to aspects of human physiology. Dr. Frazier invited all students and parents to his class room at the University of Kentucky Science Outreach Center where he interacts with approximately 4,000 student each year. He encouraged the PSSGSA to create a display for the Science Outreach Center illustrating the degree opportunities offered within the College of Agriculture.

The participating teachers and organization leaders stated they would like to see Science Saturday continue as a more frequent event. The following people and organizations helped to make this inaugural event successful: UK staff member Cathy Bowers, Anne Jack, Colin Fisher, the PSSGSA graduate students (Yumei Zheng, Daniela Sarti, Xun Zhuang, Stephen Bell, Bobby Gaffney, Bin Cai, Keith Allen, Tom Niehaus), the APPS graduate students, the Fayette County Board of Education, GEMS (Growth Education Motivates Success), Try-it (Translating Research to Youth through Information Technology), and BMW (Black Males Working Academy).

The Science Saturday organizers hope to make this an annual or semi-annual event to continue to promote science research and educational opportunities at the University of Kentucky. For more information regarding PSSGSA or this event, contact Keith Allen, Ph.D. candidate for Plant Biology in the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences.

photo of Don Frazier with students (Click on image to enlarge)


Professor Emeritus Morris Bitzer

LEXINGTON, KY (MAY 24th, 2010) - Morris J. Bitzer, 74, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, died March 28, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky. He was born in Huntington, Indiana on March 3rd, 1936. He received his B.S. degree from Purdue University in 1958. After teaching vocational agriculture for several years he returned to Purdue to receive his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Genetics and Breeding working with Dr. F. L. Patterson.

His first academic position was at the University of Georgia as a small grains breeder. In 1971 Morris joined the faculty in the Department of Agronomy at the University of Kentucky as a grain crops extension specialist, serving for 38 years. He demonstrated the techniques of no-till agriculture to farmers in eastern Kentucky, and the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences recognized him for those efforts in 2003 when he presented the S.H Phillips Distinguished Lecture in No-Till Agriculture. Morris played a major role, through his research and extension activities, in the development and support of the sweet sorghum industry in Kentucky and throughout the US. He greatly enjoyed serving farmer organizations: he was Executive Secretary of the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association, President of the American Kenaf Society, on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, and advisor to the Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association. After retiring, Morris continued his work with sweet sorghum and was honored for his enthusiasm and dedication by having a sweet sorghum variety, KN Morris, named after him.

He is survived by Mabel Bitzer, his wife; his children Jay, Melanie, and Craig; and grandchildren Lindsey Novakova and Jennifer Bitzer. He was preceded in death by his parents Homer and Edna Bitzer.

photo of Morris Bitzer (Click on image to enlarge)


Professor Emeritus Tim Taylor

LEXINGTON, KY (MAY 7th, 2010) - Timothy H. Taylor, 91 Professor Emeritus of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky died at his home in McCreary County Kentucky on April 4th, 2010. He was born in McCreary County Kentucky at Good Spring Farm on July 4th, 1918. He received his B.S. and M. S. degrees in Soil Science from the University of Kentucky and the PhD from Pennsylvania State University. He served in the U.S. Army and after returning from the war, he joined the University of Kentucky faculty in 1955 where he taught courses and conducted research on forage production and grassland ecology. He demonstrated to farmers the techniques of pasture renovation and developed a prototype drill for this purpose. At one time, pasture renovation techniques that he helped foster were demonstrated in 100 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. He was a visiting scientist for the American Society of Agronomy during a sabbatical at the University of Wales in 1966-67. He was a Fellow of both the CSSA and ASA. After retiring in 1986, he returned to Good Spring Farm. His passion in later years was to restore Good Spring Farm’s pasture and forest. For many years, he served on the Soil Conservation District Board for McCreary County.

He is survived by Peg Taylor, his wife; his son Richard and daughter, Kathryn; and grandchildren Todd and Jennifer Taylor. He was preceded in death by his parents Grant and Allen Darr Taylor and by his first wife Andree Errera whom he married in Paris, France in 1945.

photo of Tim Taylor (Click on image to enlarge)


American Association for the Advancement of Science Elects Chappell as a AAAS Fellow

LEXINGTON, KY (DECEMBER 7th, 2009) - The American Association for the Advancement of Science has elected Dr. Joe Chappell to the rank of AAAS Fellow. The honor of being elected a Fellow of AAAS began in 1874. “Each year the Council elects members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.” Dr. Chappell is being “honored for distinguished contributions to our understanding of the regulation of biosynthetic pathways and structure-function relationships of the enzymes of terpenoid biosynthesis in plants.” The fellowship will be presented in San Diego on February 20, 2010 during the AAAS Fellows Forum at the AAAS annual meeting.

photo of Joe Chappell (Click on image to enlarge)


Seed Vigor Online Course Offers Continuing Education Credits

LEXINGTON, KY (DECEMBER 3rd, 2009) - Plant and Soil Science Professor Dennis TeKrony will be teaching an online course: PLS 557, Seed Vigor, in the Spring 2010 Semester. This course will be offered through the Distance Learning Program. This course has proven to be very popular among working professionals with busy schedules. Students interested in taking the course must be admitted to UK and can contact Jackie Briscoe in the Distance Learning Programs office toll-free at 800-828-0439, option six; 859-257-3010 or for more information.

Deadline to apply for entry into this class is January 6th, 2010.

Here is a link to the flier for the class with complete details.


Department of Plant and Soil Sciences Graduate Student Honored with Award at ASA Meeting

PITTSBURGH, PA (November 5th, 2009) - Graduate student Abdul Aqeel was honored with the 3rd place award in the graduate student poster competition during the ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting, November 1-5 in Pittsburgh, PA,

Abdul Aqeel is a graduate student working toward his Ph.D in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Kentucky. His research focuses on developing a model of soybean yield loss due to soybean rust.  In his poster, entitled " Can we simulate the impact of soybean rust in the southern soybean production regions of the United States?" he presented a two year, multi-state, proof of concept study for a newly developed yield loss algorithm for soybean rust. He used manual defoliations imposed on a healthy soybean canopy to simulate changes in effective leaf area observed in diseased canopies, and was able to successfully simulate the impact of the disease on the yield of a healthy soybean canopy. His poster was part of an international research project led by Dr. Saratha Kumudini.

For more information about the project see:

photo of Abdul Aqeel in front of his SSSA presentation(Click on image to enlarge)


CSSA & SSSA Honor PSS Professors With 2009 Fellows

PITTSBURGH, PA (November 6th, 2009) - The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) has presented a 2009 CSSA Fellow to Dr. Glen E. Aiken. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) has presented a 2009 SSSA Fellow to Dr. Ole Wendroth. Both received these honors at the special Awards Ceremony during the combined ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting on November 1-5 in Pittsburgh, PA,

It is worth noting that members of the Society nominate worthy colleagues based on their professional achievements and meritorious service. Only 0.3% of the Society’s active and emeritus members may be elected Fellow.

Glen E. Aiken is a research agronomist and animal scientist with USDA-ARS Forage-Animal Production Research Unit, Lexington, KY. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Aiken received a B.S. and M.S. from Texas A&M University and Ph.D. from University of Florida. His research focuses on forage and grazing management. He served as a technical editor for Crop Science, and is active in ASA and CSSA.

Ole Wendroth is associate professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at University of Kentucky. He received a Ph.D. from University of Goettingen and a Habilitation degree from Technical University of Berlin, Germany. He works in soil landscape research with respect to water and solute transport and biomass development. Dr. Wendroth served as associate editor for Journal of Environmental Quality and Agronomy Journal and technical editor for Agronomy Journal. He currently serves as associate editor for Soil Science Society of America Journal and Vadose Zone Journal.


Two Plant and Soil Science Department Members Are Recognized at 2009 Staff Appreciaton Day

LEXINGTON, KY (October 21st, 2009) - We are proud to announce that Gene Olson and Yvonne Thompson both received College of Agriculture Outstanding Staff Awards this during Roundup week this fall. Our congratualitions on this recognition and our thanks for their many years of dedicated service go out to Gene and Yvonne!

Gene Olson, Executive category Outstanding Staff Award winner, represents the College and University nationally and internationally by managing one of the most extensive forage variety testing programs in the Southeastern United States.  Gene is the lead contact with company plant breeders and research personnel for procurement of seed for testing.  He maintains, collects data, analyzes and writes reports from well over 5,000 variety plots.  The University of Kentucky is one of only a few places in the country that conducts extensive grazing tests on new varieties, in part due to the efforts of Gene Olson.  His new techniques have increased efficiency and saved time for researchers in his own, and in other departments. 

Yvonne Thompson, Technical category Outstanding Staff Award winner, is primarily responsible for research.  However, a major aspect of her position is service oriented, consisting of soil characterization analyses.  For more than 20 years, Yvonne has provided reliable and timely physical, chemical, and mineralogical data to scientists working on National Soil Survey projects throughout Kentucky.  Yvonne has been instrumental in establishing her program as one of the best in the national by providing reliable analytical and technical support in laboratory and field research activities and is an outstanding manager in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.  She exhibits great versatility and competence in the laboratory, the field, and with computer software. 

A link to the college announcement is here:

photo of Dean Smith presenting presenting outstanding staff award to Gene Olson photo of Staff Appreciation Day 2009 photo of Dean Smith presenting outstanding staff award to Yvonne Thompson

(Click on images to enlarge)


Plant Genetics Professor Honored With Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award

CHARLSTEON, SC (June 26th, 2009) - Dr. Glenn Collins was honored with a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for In Vitro Biology during the opening ceremony of the 2009 In Vitro Biology Meeting in Charleston, S.C.

From the Society's website: " The Society of In Vitro Biology established the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989 to recognize those who have achieved academic excellence in their field of study and to honor those who have made significant and contributions to the field of in vitro biology and/or in the development of novel technologies that have advanced in vitro biology."

For more information see UK AG News story:


PSS Turf Science Alumnus Honored as Golf Grounds Manager Of The Year

ORLANDO, FL (June 19th, 2009) - Scott Bender, a 2000 UK graduate of the Plant and Soil Sciences Bachelors Degree program (with an emphasis in Turf Science) has received national recognition in his field.

"Marriott Golf, one of the world's premier golf operators, recently announced Scott Bender, Director of Grounds for Griffin Gate Golf Club, located in Lexington, Ky., was named Golf Grounds Manager of the Year. The award is based on performance excellence for current and previous years in various categories, including maintaining turfgrass conditions, successful large scale renovation or construction projects, loss prevention efforts, active pursuit of industry-wide certifications and education, and more."

"Under Bender's direction, Griffin Gate Golf Club earned certification through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program in 2008. A highlight of this effort, and as part of the property's commitment to environmental stewardship, Bender spearheaded a community project with a local Boy Scouts Troop to build bat boxes on property." Read more here: complete news release from Marriott Golf.


ASMR Presents its Highest Honor to PSS Soil Science Professor Emeritus

BILLINGS, MT (June 5th, 2009) - At the 26th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation (ASMR) held in Billings, MT May 30-June 5, Dr. Richard I. Barnhisel was the recipient of the William T. Plass Award, the most prestigious award of ASMR, in recognition of his service to the Society and his dedication to the reclamation of disturbed lands.

As a Professor in the Agronomy Department at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Barnhisel began his research in 1972 to determine the most effective means and methods of reclaiming mined land in western Kentucky.  To fund the field and lab research as well as the numerous graduate students who completed their degree work in reclamation under “Dr. B’s” supervision, grants were secured from coal companies and the Office of Surface Mining, as well as a coveted Prime Farmland Grant awarded jointly to U.K. and the University of Illinois due to efforts of the late U.S. Congressman William T. Natcher.

Richard served as President of the American Council for Reclamation Research, a forerunner of ASMR, in 1980 and 1981, and has served as Executive Secretary of ASMR since 1999 with the duties of maintaining the membership records and the ASMR Webpage as well as assisting with the annual meetings.  He has also co-edited a book, Reclamation of Drastically Disturbed Soils.  In July 2002 he was invited to represent ASMR at the China Reclamation Society in Beijing, where he spoke at their meeting and also visited several of their reclamation sites.

Dr. Richard Barnhisel receiving the William T. Plass Award at the 2009 annual meeting of ASMR in Billings, MT (Click on image to enlarge)

Larry Grabau Receives 2009 Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Award

LEXINGTON KY (May 4th, 2009) – Among the recipients for this year’s Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Awards was our own Dr. Larry Grabau, winning in the Tenured Faculty category. Four professors and three teaching assistants at UK received the 2009 Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Awards at a recognition ceremony on April 24. The award recognizes faculty and graduate teaching assistants who demonstrate special dedication and success in their teaching; and to encourage awareness of the importance of excellence in teaching. Recipients are selected via nomination and review by a selection committee based in the Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs. Winners receive cash prizes of $5,000 for tenured faculty, $3,500 for non-tenured faculty and $1,000 for teaching assistants.

Text taken from UK News story:

PSS Professor Grabau Honored by UK with 2009 Ken Freedman Outstanding Advisor Award

LEXINGTON KY (April 5th, 2009)) - Larry Grabau was honored as a recipient of the 2009 Ken Freedman Outstanding Advisor Award. Grabau have been described by his students and colleagues as an adviser who “goes beyond expectation” and “gives renewed energy” to help students reach their goals.

Grabau, a faculty member of the University of Kentucky since 1984, received the award for outstanding faculty adviser. He currently serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Natural Resource Conservation and Management program in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture. Grabau is described as committed, as he continually enhances his own abilities to connect with students.

The awards are sponsored by the UK Advising Network and the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and are named in honor of Ken Freedman, who served as a professional adviser at UK for 15 years prior to his death in 2001.

Text taken from UK News story:

PSS Chair Recognized as 2009 WSSA Fellow and Elected Vice President

LAWRENCE, KS (February 10th, 2009) - Nearly two dozen individuals from academia, government and private industry were honored Monday by the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) for their outstanding contributions to the field of weed science. The annual awards were presented during WSSA’s 49th Annual Meeting, in Orlando, Florida. “Our annual WSSA awards program honors individuals from around the globe who are all-stars in their profession,” said Jeffrey Derr, Ph.D., of Virginia Tech, president of WSSA. “They conduct breakthrough research, promote weed science education, or devote their time and energy to the profession in other significant ways.” Dr. Michael Barrett, PSS Chair, was awarded Fellow (link) status. WSSA Fellow is the highest honor bestowed upon WSSA members. Only 0.25 percent of the membership may be selected for Fellowship in any given year. These members have been part of the organization for at least a decade and have made substantial contributions to the field of weed science.

The University of Kentucky News website covered this story (link) and also announced that Dr. Barrett had been elected vice president of the WSSA this year while assuming the role of president in 2011.


Switchgrass Tested as Biofuel at Kentucky Power Plant 

Maysville, KY (December 17, 2008) - In mid-December switchgrass was used for the first time in Kentucky as fuel for a power plant. East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) burned about 70 tons of switchgrass mixed with coal at the cooperative's Spurlock Station Plant in Maysville. A major media event was staged December 17 to announce the success of the trial burn. The power plant demonstration was part of an innovative four-year pilot project conducted by University of Kentucky Plant and Soil Sciences Department to determine if switchgrass can be grown sustainably and economically in Kentucky. The project is being funded through a grant to the Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board. UK forage extension specialists (Tom Keene and Ray Smith) are working with 20 farmers and county agents in northeastern Kentucky to evaluate options for planting, growing, harvesting, transporting and processing switchgrass. Switchgrass was chosen because it is well adapted to Kentucky and will grow on marginal, low fertility soils and has excellent drought tolerance and high yield potential.

This KFGC sponsored project has also allowed collaboration with the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering on the development of efficient techniques for ethanol production from switchgrass. If this project is successful, switchgrass could provide a great opportunity for producers in this area and throughout the state to be on the forefront of the emerging biomass market. Ideally, switchgrass and similar grasses may even become important dual use crops for KY forage producers. For example, during drought years it could be cut at a leafy stage to provide quality hay, and then allowed to regrow and harvested in the fall as biomass. For the current project, the switchgrass was allowed to grow for the entire season and then harvested in early November. For more information about switchgrass, go online to the KY Forage website (, and look under the Forage Publications section for “Biofuels and Forages".



Anne Jack Honored by CORESTA

Shanghai, China  (November 2008) CORESTA (Cooperation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco) is an international organization dealing with tobacco research. It holds a conference every year in different parts of the world, and also has study groups and taskforces with specific responsibilities. These groups produce documents and recommended methods, or arrange specific experiments to answer specific questions.

Silver and bronze medals are awarded every two years for services to CORESTA. Anne Jack in the Plant and Soil Sciences Department was awarded a bronze medal in 2002 and a silver medal last month in China. She was elected to the Scientific Commission in 2000 and served the maximum permissible 6 years in the Phytopathology study group, with 2 years as vice-president. She coordinated the bacterial wilt subgroup for six years, achieving all the stated objectives (resolve the conflicting reports of dominant and recessive genetic control of resistance, investigate reports of resistance breakdown, test a resistant cultivar set worldwide, document disease pressure in participating countries). She currently coordinates the IPM taskforce, which is compiling an international field guide to integrated pest management in tobacco. This covers all aspects of plant protection – diseases, nematodes, insects, weeds and also specific strategies such as rotation, barrier crops, biological control etc. There are 96 members in this taskforce.

Anne Jack receiving the Silver Medal at the Shanghai China CORESTA Conference (Click on image to enlarge)

Ole Wendroth Becomes ASA Fellow

Houston, TX (October 2008) Ole Wendroth is an associate professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Kentucky. He received a Diploma and Ph.D. degree from the University of Goettingen, and his Habilitation degree from Technical University of Berlin, Germany. He works in soil landscape research with respect to water and solute transport, and biomass development. Dr. Wendroth served as an associate editor for Journal of Environmental Quality, and Agronomy Journal, and is currently technical editor for Agronomy Journal, and associate editor for Soil Science Society of America Journal and Vadose Zone Journal. - See this link for details.


USAID and PSS Faculty: No-Till Farming Techniques Dramatically Increase Production in Belarus

WASHINGTON, DC (April 10th, 2008) - A Soil Science Professor in Plant and Soil Sciences, Dr Greg Schwab, was recently recognized for his volunteer work with Belarus farmers in a nationally distributed story from USAID (United States Agency International Development). The story explains: "In the summer of 2006, Dr. Greg Schwab, who is an extension [specialist] at the University of Kentucky with expertise in soil, traveled to Belarus as a volunteer through USAID's Farmer-to-Farmer (FtF) Program to introduce the concept of no-till crop production."

Dr Schwab was followed by another FtF volunteer, Mr. Jerry Grigar to provide additional training on no-till farming techniques. These visits proved very beneficial, again quoting the story: "Greg Schwab and Jerry Grigar produced tangible results that have the potential to greatly impact Belarus' agricultural economy." "When Dr. Schwab revisited Kholodon-Agro Farm in February of 2008 he discovered that in the past two years the new drill had planted more than 2,500 acres and produced excellent results for wheat and oats. No-till oat yield was double that of conventionally planted oats. He was also very pleased to learn that the no-till crops planted in the spring of 2006 got 10-15% higher yields than their conventionally planted counterparts. The increased yield was attributed to moisture conservation enabled by the no-till system. In addition to higher yields, Kholodon is spending less on fuel and labor while dramatically reducing soil erosion and the associated environmental impacts. Kholodon plans on planting more than 70% of their crops using no-till this year, which will lead to a highly profitable and more environmentally friendly production in the future."

Dr. Schwab’s work to help spread the latest farming techniques to those in need no matter where they might live is a source of pride for all of us who know and work with him here in the department.

Greg Schwab and Vladimir Lukonin owner of Kholodon-Agro (Click on image to enlarge)


Second Distinguished Alumnus Award

LEXINGTON, KY (March 21st, 2008) - Dr. Dwight Tomes, Research Fellow of the Agronomic Traits Gene Expression and Agronomic Lead Evaluation, Trait and Technology Development sectors of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., was awarded the second Distinguished Alumnus Award for the Plant and Soil Sciences Department here at the University of Kentucky. The award program was designed to recognize the achievements of past students and to promote graduate-student alumni interactions. Dr. Tomes, a native of western Kentucky, was one of the first graduates from the UK Crop Science Ph.D. program (under the direction of Dr. Glenn Collins), receiving his degree in 1975. He began his career as a faculty member at the University of Guelph, where he established a strong research and undergraduate/graduate training program and taught a Plant Breeding course that was later published as a book and received wide professional recognition. After seven years in this faculty position, Dr. Tomes moved to industry with the Pioneer Hi-Bred International. He has worked with many different crops and programs at Pioneer over the years, and he was recently awarded the Peterson Medal for his work – the highest research recognition at Dupont. He has numerous publications and 24 issued patents. He has also been the recipient of several Inventor and Revolution awards. Dr. Tomes developed several of the pivotal techniques needed to facilitate the application of biotechnology to many crop species. He was recognized for his achievements on March 21st, 2008, following his presentation of a seminar entitled ‘Reflections of a Career in Science.’ PSS Department Chair, Dr. Mike Barrett, presented Dr. Tomes with a commemorative plaque and modest honorarium. The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given annually and a large plaque containing the names of the honored recipients is on permanent display in the Plant Science Building.

Dwight Tomes receiving PSS Distinguished Alumnis Award from Chair Dr. Michael Barrett (Click on image to enlarge)


2008 Joint American Forage Grassland Council/Society of Range Management Annual Meeting

LOUISVILLE, KY (January 27th, 2008) - A number of faculty and students from our PSS Department attended and presented research at the Joint AFGC/SRM Conference held January 26-31, 2008 in Louisville, KY. Over 1500 people attended making this the largest Forage Conference in Kentucky since the 1980 International Grassland Congress. Attendees represented 46 states and 8 countries with 7 people traveling all the way from China. Kentucky was fortunate to take home a number of awards at this event. The Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council received the Affiliate Council Award for the top Forage Council in the USA for 2007. Two PSS graduate students, Adam Probst and Jesse Morrison competed in the AFGC Young Scientist Competition. Jesse Morrison placed 3rd for his presentation "Using Microhistological Techniques to Predict Botanical Composition of Horse Diets on Cool-Season Grass Pasture." Congratulations, Jesse (Photo 1). Dr. Ray Smith co-chaired the meeting and received a commendation award for his efforts from AFGC and a specially engraved Louisville Slugger bat from the conference, and several PSS faculty members contributed to the meeting by organizing symposium or giving talks (Drs. Glenn Aiken, Garry Lacefield, Rebecca McCulley, Lowell Bush, and Tim Phillips).


2007 National Soybean Rust Symposium

LOUSIVILLE, KY (December 15th, 2007) - From December 12 to 14 the SBR Yield Loss Predictor Project team from the our PSS Department was in Louisville attending the 2007 National Soybean Rust Symposium.  This included Dr. Saratha Kumudini, Dr. Donald Hershman and Brenda Kennedy from UK Plant Pathology, Dr.Joseph Omielan, and Elena Prior (photo 1). The symposium provided an opportunity for the PIs (Dr. Claudia Godoy, Dr. Saratha Kumudini, and Dr.James Board) to discuss the project face to face (photo 2). For more information read the December 2007 UK project update on the SBR web site.

photo of SBR Yield Loss Project team from UK at 2007 National Soybean Sypmposium photo of Principal Investigators for the SBR Yield Loss Project (Click on images to enlarge)


Staff Appreciation Day 2007

LEXINGTON, KY (September 26th, 2007) - Congratulations to Ted Hicks who received one of the College Staff Awards in the Technical category yesterday. Also, congratulations to Scott Kinison, Toni Kroumova, Sandy Swanson, Yvonne Thompson, Jason Walton and Glen Weinberger who were all nominated in this category. Anne Jack, Brenda Kennedy, Gene Olson and Charles Tutt were nominated from the department in the Executive category. Special thanks go out to those who worked to put together these nominations. While the competition for these awards is intense and not everyone deserving can be recognized, it is an honor to be nominated and reflects the excellent staff in the department.


REAP Tour Visits UK SBR Project

LEXINGTON, KY (August 2nd, 2007) - The Southern Regional Exchange and Awareness Program (REAP) tour sponsored by the American Soybean Association (ASA) and EMD Crop BioScience visited our plots at Spindletop Farm on August 2.  The group included growers from 11 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Ohio.  Dr. Saratha Kumudini presented the objectives and methodology of the SBR Yield Loss Model Project and then answered numerous questions (see photo below).  Hopefully, new partnerships may result from this exchange of information and ideas.

The group also visited soybean population studies managed by Dr. Chad Lee and toured the rest of the research farm.

(Click on image to enlarge)


Turfgrass Science Field Day 2007

LEXINGTON, KY (July 12th, 2007) - Turfgrass Science put on it's annual Field Day Thursday, July 12th at Spindletop Farm. It was a well attended and fun event! Here are some photos to prove it.

photo of Letha Tomes Drury receiving GSD award (Click on images to enlarge)


First Distinguished Alumnus Award

LEXINGTON, KY (May 17, 2007) - Dr. Donald Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Soil and Environmental Chemistry, Francis Alison Professor, and Chairperson of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware, was awarded the first Distinguished Alumnus Award for the Plant and Soil Sciences Department here at the University of Kentucky. The award program was designed to recognize the achievements of past graduate students and to promote graduate-student alumni interactions. Dr. Sparks, a native Kentuckian having grown up just north of Lexington in Paris, received both his Bachelor's (Agronomy, 1975) and Master's (Soil Science, 1976) degrees from UK before completing his education with a PhD (Soil Science, 1979) at Virginia Tech. He has been on the faculty at the University of Delaware since 1979 and has developed a world-recognized environmental soil chemistry research program. He has trained more than forty-five graduate students (including Drs. McNear and Matocha currently in our Department) and published two textbooks, forty book chapters, and in excess of 160 refereed journal articles covering a wide range of topics within the soil chemistry discipline. During his visit to Lexington, Dr. Sparks gave an informative seminar entitled "Frontiers in Exploration of Biogeochemical Processes at Critical Zone Interfaces" in the Cameron Williams Auditorium on Friday, April 27th, and was presented with a commemorative plaque by PSS Department Chair, Dr. Mike Barrett, immediately afterwards. The Distinguished Alumnus Award will be given annually and those honored recipients commemorated with a large plaque containing their names to be permanently hung on the wall outside the Williams Auditorium in the Plant Science Building.


Gamma Sigma Delta Honors KFSP Manager

LEXINGTON, KY (May 7, 2007) - Letha Tomes Drury was recently recognized for her contributions to the Kentucky seed industry and was presented with the Outstanding Alumnus Award at the annual University of Kentucky Gamma Sigma Delta banquet in March. Letha is a 1984 Master's graduate in Seed Biology from the Department of Agronomy in UK's College of Agriculture. She is a native of Edmonson County and received her B.S. degree from Western Kentucky University. Her M.S. research under the direction of Dr. Dennis TeKrony, focused on the identification of important variables in seed vigor testing. As the Manager for Kentucky Foundation Seed Project (KFSP), Letha has helped introduce improved cultivars of foundation seed for soybean, winter wheat, tobacco and grasses, which led to the production of thousands of acres of certified seed to the benefit of Kentucky farmers. For the past 20 years Letha has enthusiastically cooperated with many groups, including the Kentucky Seedsman’s Association, Kentucky Seed Improvement Association and university plant breeders on regulations, administrative procedures and production for certified classes of seed. She has helped with development of standards and policies to facilitate movement of high quality seed. Perhaps her greatest contribution to the seed industry has been bridging the gap between the university breeding programs and the producer. Although now semi-retired, the KFSP continues to thrive under her leadership and she will directly assist with release of new tobacco, hybrid sweet sorghum, white clover and wheat varieties in 2007.

photo of Letha Tomes Drury receiving GSD award(Click on image to enlarge)


ASA Recognizes PSS Undergraduate Student

MADISON, WI (April 16, 2007) - The American Society of Agronomy announced the winners of their annual Student Recognition Program for outstanding college seniors enrolled in agronomy, soils, or environmental sciences departments that have active clubs affiliated with the Students of Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Science (SASES), an undergraduate Student program of ASA, CSA, and SSSA. Each year top seniors are selected for the award based on their scholarship, leadership and participation. The students receive a plaque as part of their recognition and are also eligible to apply for the Frank D. Keim Fellowship if they are pursuing a graduate degree. Richard Medley from the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture has been so honored for 2007. The entire Plant and Soil Science Department as well as Richard's advisor Dr. Tim Phillips send our congratulations to him.



National Soybean Association Awards Conservation Efforts of Kentucky Farmer

ST. LOUIS, MO (March 15, 2007) - Sam Hancock, a resident of Fulton County Kentucky and an alumnus of the University of Kentucky, received the 2007 Northeast Regional Conservation Legacy Award.  The Conservation Legacy Awards program is designed to recognize a U.S. soybean farmer from each of the four geographic growing regions for outstanding environmental and conservation achievement.  Judges look for dedication to the land through cropland management practices, farmstead protection, and conservation and environmental management.  The award is given by the American Soybean Association and sponsored by Monsanto and The Corn and Soybean Digest.
When he received the award, Mr. Hancock said that “Conservation is not our hobby.  It’s not a cause, it’s our lifestyle.”  More information about the award can be found at:


KASEP Recognizes Two UK PSS Extension Professors

LEXINGTON, KY (February 6, 2007) - Doug McLaren, KASEP (Kentucky Association of State Extension Professionals) Awards Chairperson, announced the 2006 Award Winners at their winter meeting (preceding the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Professional Development Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Lexington, Kentucky). The awards given to UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department faculty were: the Outstanding New Extension Faculty Award, presented to William (Andy) Bailey and the M.D. Whiteker Award for Excellence in Extension, presented to David Ditsch. Our congratulations and thanks to these members for their continuing excellence!



Taylor Made Farm and Local High School Team Up With UK PSS

LEXINGTON, KY (December 13, 2006) - Members of PSS recently wrapped up a semester long pasture evaluation project partnership with West Jessamine High School and Taylor Made Farm, one of the area’s top Thoroughbred horse farms. By all accounts the project was a successful one and a beneficial learning experience for both students and farm management. Spearheaded by Dr. Ray Smith and coordinated by Smith and Tom Keene, Joy Lourie and Chengjun Huo, the project mirrored the highly regarded Pasture Management Program completed on more than 30 local horse farms over the past two years. The Pasture Management Project works to help Central Kentucky horse farms determine if cool season tall fescue grass could be problematic for their broodmare herds (a common and potentially harmful fungus is often found in tall fescue and can cause foal loss in mares); help farms increase productivity of their pastures; and foster stronger relationships with the equine industry and Central Bluegrass communities.For more information about this partnership with West Jessamine High School, please visit (

Photo of UK’s Pasture Management team presenting representatives from Taylor Made Farm with a program notebook Photo of West Jessamine High School principal Bart Flener and students (Click on images to enlarge)


UK PSS Weed Science Extension Professor Presented With Fellow Award

MILWAUKEE, WI (December 13, 2006) - The North Central Weed Science Society presented the Fellow Award to Dr. James R. Martin during its annual meeting. Recipients of this award are recognized for their significant contributions to the North Central Weed Science Society and the Weed Science discipline. Dr. Martin has been a member of the North Central Weed Science Society for 30 years whereby he has served on numerous committees and elected to serve on the NCWSS Board of Directors as a state director, extension representative, and as the society's representative to CAST (Council of Agricultural Science and Technology). After representing the NCWSS on the CAST board, he was elected to serve another 3-year term (2004-2006) on the CAST Executive Board to represent the Plant Protection Science Workgroup. Jim also contributes to the Southern Weed Science Society and the Weed Science Society of America serving on committees and as an associate editor for Weed Technology. Dr. Martin has had a productive career evaluating and discussing weed mangement problems that impact crop producers in Kentucky and surrounding states. His research has focused on troublesome weed problems in no-till crop production systems for corn, soybean, and wheat.



UK College of Agriculture Recognizes PSS Research Staff

LEXINGTON, KY (November 15, 2006) - Congratulations are in order for Dr. Neil Fannin who received a 2006 College of Agriculture Outstanding Staff Award for technical/paraprofessional/skilled staff.  Neil was nominated by Lowell P. Bush for his outstanding work, commitment, and dedication.  He has developed original research projects and has presented his work at national and international meetings.  In the past 3 years, he was senior co-author of 3 papers on mass spectroscopy and alkaloid biosynthesis plus a book chapter on 'Formation of tobacco-specific nitrosamines'.  Neil has a Ph.D. in pharmacology and has contributed tremendously to the tall fescue toxicosis research efforts within the Department.  He is not only academically talented but also has the intellectual curiosity of wanting to know how and why things function the way they do.


UK College of Agriculture Award Received by PSS Extension Staff

LEXINGTON, KY (November 15, 2006) - We congratulate Ron Curd who received a 2006 College of Agriculture Outstanding Staff Award for technical/paraprofessional/skilled staff and this year's University of Kentucky Nestor Award for innovation and cost saving by a staff member. Ron was nominated by Bill Pearce and Todd Pfeiffer for these awards because of his professionalism, problem solving skills, and dedication during his 24 years at UK. Ron always displays a positive attitude. He understands the needs of the variety testing program and adjusts his personal life to achieve work tasks, such as the extensive travel and routine overnight trips associated with statewide extension. Ron has demonstrated leadership in his ability to train and teach student workers about agricultural research and mechanical processes. The quality that makes his leadership outstanding is his respect for diversity, patience, and natural ability to communicate with students, co-workers, faculty and scholars from diverse nations.



UK PSS Undergraduate Student Wins National Student Research Symposium Contest at Tri Societies Annual National Conference

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (November 14, 2006) - We congratulate George Clements, a junior in the Horticulture, Plant and Soil Science degree program for winning the National Student Research Symposium Contest awarded by "Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences" - an undergraduate student organization of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America. George presented a paper entitled "Use of vegetation index to determine potential yield loss: A risk management tool for Asian Soybean rust."  His presentation was based on his undergraduate research project (PLS 395) which is part of an international, multidisciplinary study on Asian Soybean Rust being lead by his mentor, Dr. Saratha Kumudini, of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.


UK PSS Crop Physiology Professor Recognized at Tri Societies Annual National Conference

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (November 14, 2006) - We congratulate Dr. Dennis B. Egli, Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, for receiving the Crop Science Research Award from the Crop Science Society of America. The criteria for this award are significance and originality of basic and applied research contributions to crop science; excellence in creative reasoning, skill in obtaining significant data, and total impact of contributions on crop science and other fields, nationally and internationally. Dennis's research interests include seed growth and development, the relationship between seed growth characteristics and yield, environmental effects on seed quality, evaluation of seed vigor, and the relationship between seed quality and field performance. He has served as associate editor and technical editor for the Agronomy Journal and Crop Science Journal. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.



UK PSS Agronomist Recognized at Tri Societies Annual National Conference

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (November 14, 2006) - Congratulations go out to Dr. Glen Aiken for becoming a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy in 2006. Glen is a research animal scientist and agronomist with the USDA-ARS Forage Animal Production Research Unit and is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. He has been recognized for his outstanding service to the society including his research program that focuses on the plant-animal interface. He serves as a technical editor for the Crop Science Journal.


New Faculty Member Joins UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department

LEXINGTON, KY (November 11, 2006) - The Plant and Soil Sciences department welcomes our new Rhizosphere Scientist, Dr. David McNear, to our faculty.  He received his doctoral degree from the University of Delaware in 2005 under the guidance of Dr. Donald Sparks in Environmental Soil Chemistry.  David has expertise in using high energy synchrotron x-ray microprobes to analyze heavy metals at the soil root interface and within plants.  David will be joining the department January 1, 2007 and will be assuming responsibility for teaching one semester per year of PLS 366, Fundamentals of Soil Science.  Accompanying David will be his wife, Dr. Maria Labreveux, their new baby, Isabelle, Chloe (black lab mix), and Lila (beagle).


UK Soil Judging Team Takes First Place in the Southeast Regional Soil Judging Contest

BOWLING GREEN, KY (October 20, 2006) -Congratulations to the UK Soil Judging Team for taking first place in the Southeast Regional Soil Judging Contest hosted by Western Kentucky University . The team of Paul Blanche, Bryan Jacobs, Vincent Madigan and Marie Pelton was led by coach Dr. Tasios Karathanasis, a Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. Paul Blanche also received the 1st place individual award and Bryan Jacobs placed 4th in the individual awards.


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