University of Florida

UF/IFAS environmental horticulture faculty and CALS students win awards at international conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) students and UF/IFAS faculty recently took home several awards at the 41st International Plant Propagators’ Society (IPPS) southern region conference. IPPS is a global network of plant production professionals involved in horticulture research and education.

“It’s important for our students to attend and participate in professional conferences, such as IPPS, because they learn from top experts in the horticulture fields,” said Sandra Wilson, UF/IFAS environmental horticulture professor. “Our students engage in important experiential learning opportunities such as conversing with professors and other experts who have written these students’ college textbooks.”

The following students, faculty and staff received awards at the conference:

Sidney B. Meadows Award of Merit

  • Mack Thetford, environmental horticulture associate professor at UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.


The award recognizes an outstanding individual for his or her contributions to the nursery industry and plant propagation in the Southern region of North America; it is the highest honor bestowed upon a member.

Second Place Oral Presentation

Topic: Impacts of pre-emergence herbicide formulation on cost and weed control efficacy for container nursery crop producers

  • Nathan S. Boyd, horticultural sciences assistant professor at UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center;
  • Chris Marble, environmental horticulture assistant professor at UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center;
  • Debalina Saha, CALS environmental horticulture doctoral student;
  • Shawn Steed, environmental horticulture UF/IFAS Extension agent for Hillsborough and Polk counties at UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center.


Poster Presentation Award

Topic: In-vitro propagation of grapes via somatic embryogenesis

  • Annette Chandler, biological scientist at UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center;
  • Crystal Conner, CALS fourth-year plant science major;
  • Trudi Grant, post-doctoral associate at UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center;
  • Dennis Gray, horticultural sciences professor at UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center.

Vivian Munday Scholarship Recipients

  • Crystal Conner, CALS fourth-year plant science major;
  • Shea Keene, CALS environmental horticulture master’s student;
  • Debalina Saha, CALS environmental horticulture doctoral student;
  • Cody Stewart, CALS environmental horticulture master’s student.

According to Debalina Saha, a CALS doctoral student who received an oral presentation award and scholarship at the IPPS conference, the theoretical courses, practical applications and knowledge-sharing among students and instructors have contributed to her success.

“Such experiences have helped me to gain confidence and prepare for my first oral presentation at the IPPS-Southern Region 2016 student competition,” Saha said. “The entire CALS education system has led to an overall development of my character and personality that helped me to achieve this award.”

Three CALS courses have had particular impact on her ability to critically analyze the research of others as well as present her own research, Saha said. Propagation of Horticultural Crops included a presentation component with peer reviews. Advanced Horticultural Physiology taught how to critically analyze a manuscript in a group setting. Introduction to Applied Statistics for Agricultural and Life Sciences stressed the importance of explaining difficult concepts in simple ways through daily life examples.


The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. Visit the CALS website at cals.ufl.edu, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.

By: Dana Edwards, 352-392-1963, dana.edwards@ufl.edu

Sources: Sandra Wilson, 352-273-4576, sbwilson@ufl.edu

Debalina Saha, 407-969-3587, debalina@ufl.edu

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