D.W. Brooks Lecture to focus on ending hunger through technology

Published on 10/13/20

By Josh Paine for CAES News

Julie Borlaug is continuing the legacy of her late grandfather, agronomist and Nobel laureate Norman E. Borlaug, and inspiring the next generation by advocating for innovation and technology in agricultural production to end world hunger.

She will deliver the D.W. Brooks guest lecture, "Using Innovation and Technology to End Hunger and Poverty," as part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) annual faculty awards celebration.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held on Zoom at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 2020, with a short Q&A session to follow.

“Now is the time for us to demonstrate how our passion and dedication have found solutions to the major threats we face as a collective human species: food and nutrition security, environmental stability and sustainability,” Borlaug wrote in an Agri-Pulse column earlier this year, an example of her thought leadership and public communication about agriculture.

Borlaug is vice president of external relations for Inari Agriculture, a seed company using data and biological science to transform plant breeding using approaches that significantly reduce inputs like land and water required to produce food and feed. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the company was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum last year.

“Julie is the epitome of who we call an ‘agvocate’ — an agricultural advocate — who is using her skills and passion to solve and communicate global agricultural and environmental challenges,” said Joe West, interim dean and director of CAES. “We are delighted to have her speak to our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.”

Borlaug has developed agricultural partnerships between public, private and philanthropic groups to expand the mission to feed the world’s hungry. She previously served as director of strategic initiatives for Texas A&M Agrilife Research, associate director of external relations for the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, and director of development for the American Cancer Society. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies from Texas A&M University and her master’s in business administration from the University of Dallas.

Faculty awards announced

The 2020 D.W. Brooks Faculty Awards of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the college, will be given to five faculty members for outstanding work across the college’s mission areas. 

The 2020 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching goes to Gregory Colson, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, who has developed hands-on experiments and games for his classes to reinforce the material and give students a tangible experience to complement the theory lesson.

The 2020 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Research goes to Esther van der Knaap, a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, who has spent much of her career working to understand the genetic shifts that have occurred between ancestral, wild tomato varieties and modern, cultivated tomatoes.

The 2020 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension goes to Tim Coolong, a professor in the Department of Horticulture, who primarily conducts vegetable field research but has worked on a broad variety of topics, from germplasm evaluation to food safety in vegetables to hemp production.

The 2020 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension goes to Phillip Edwards, a UGA Cooperative Extension county coordinator and Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Irwin County, who has conducted 139 applied research trials resulting in more than 50 state and/or national presentations and posters. 

The 2020 D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Global Programs goes to Bob Kemerait, a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, who has been a leader in USAID-funded projects to improve peanut production among small-scale farmers in Guyana, Haiti and the Philippines and recently received a Fulbright award to work with faculty and farmers in the northern Philippines. 

“Although we can’t celebrate them together in person, we are delighted to honor these exceptional faculty members,” said West. “Each of them brings unique skills that strengthen our discoveries and dissemination of scholarly work through education and outreach programs. They exemplify the quality we strive for as a land-grant college.”

The D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards is named in memory of the late D.W. Brooks, founder of Gold Kist Inc. Brooks started Cotton States Mutual Insurance Companies in 1941. An alumnus and faculty member of CAES, Brooks advised seven U.S. presidents on farm and trade issues.

For more information about this year’s event and to tune in to the D.W. Brooks Lecture on Nov. 10, visit

Josh Paine is a marketing specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Source: UGA CAES Newswire