UF/IFAS administrator selected as prestigious Leshner Fellow by AAAS
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Now that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has selected Roger Kjelgren as a Leshner Fellow, he hopes to increase participation in urban food and water security.
Kjelgren, the director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, is one of 15 experts selected as Leshner fellows this year, according to the AAAS. Among other areas, Leshner fellows focus on communicating science.
“I was quite honored to receive the award, and my gut reaction was excitement at jumping into the unknown again,” Kjelgren said.
Kjelgren said he’s excited about the new perspectives he’ll glean on how to connect food and water — this year’s topic — in the minds of the public and policy makers. As a Florida-based scientist, Kjelgren said he brings the rapidly evolving perspectives of the intersection of urban food and water in Florida.
“I also bring my experience as an analyst in the U.S. State Department in communicating agricultural issues to policy makers,” he said. “The other angle is bringing new perspectives and insights from the Leshner program back to UF/IFAS and Florida. UF/IFAS effectively engages the public regarding water and food separately, but I’m aiming for engagement and involvement at the intersection of urban food and water security.”
As a fellow, Kjelgren and the other fellows will meet in June at AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., for a week of intensive public engagement and science communication training, networking and public engagement plan development.
After the training, the fellows return to their institutions with resources and connections to develop and implement public engagement activities, opportunities for training other scientists in their communities and increased capacity for public engagement leadership, according to AAAS.
The fellows demonstrate clear commitment from scientists and researchers within the food and water security research community to engage the public on many critical issues. The program, now in its third year, builds on the long-standing commitment of AAAS to science communication and public engagement.
This year’s fellows come from anthropology, civil engineering, biological and environmental sciences, geography, hydrology, political science and economics, plant genetics and horticulture.
Kjelgren, who began as director of the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida REC in 2016, focuses his research on water conservation and irrigation. Specifically, he studies how much water plants need to create a water wise landscape.
After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in soil science from the Washington State and Oregon State universities, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in forestry and worked at Southern Illinois University and a few more years at Utah State University before joining UF/IFAS.
By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, firstname.lastname@example.org
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.