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Texas Airport Environmental Affairs Executive Named UF Distinguished Alumnus

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – At the helm of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s (DFW Airport) sustainability, future mobility and disruptive technology initiatives is Robert Horton. On Dec. 14, Horton was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Florida during a commencement ceremony.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a graduate of the university and recognizes recipients who have excelled in their chosen field or have performed outstanding service for the university.

The UF alumnus graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural and biological engineering, a department in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Graduate students in this department can earn their degree from the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) or the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.

“Robert is truly an outstanding alumnus of the University of Florida. Not only has he used his knowledge and skills to implement practices for a more sustainable world, he is humble and genuine in his interest to help others,” said Kati Migliaccio, professor and chair of the UF/IFAS Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department. “Through Robert’s work with various entities, he has turned vision into reality by seeking unique opportunities to aggregate information into more useful on-the-ground products.”

In Horton’s current role as DFW Airport’s vice president of environmental affairs, he has led the airport to become the first carbon neutral airport in North America, and the largest airport in the world to achieve carbon neutrality to date. His efforts helped the airport become the 2019 Global Airport of the Year by Air Transport World.

Through regular collaborations with local and federal agencies, Horton creates strategic goals that foster environmental stewardship and sustainable development. In 2018, Horton was named commissioner for the U.S. Commission on Transportation Sector Efficiency where he leads the development of policy recommendations to transform the U.S. transportation system.

Horton played an instrumental role in the creation of a partnership between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to conduct a study that led to a $5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Technology Integration. The award supports the Advancing Transportation Hubs’ Efficiency using Novel Analytics (ATHENA) program at the DFW Airport. This project will be used by DOE to improve transportation hubs across the U.S. by identifying new technology to improve energy use, convenience and affordability.

In Horton’s drive to create lasting impact on sustainability efforts in the transportation sector, DFW Airport was awarded the 2017 EPA Climate Leadership Award for Organizational Leadership. Horton has also been named a distinguished alumnus of the UF/IFAS Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department.

Prior to his time as a UF student, Horton served in Saudi Arabia with the U.S. Marines during Desert Storm. After graduating with his master’s degree in 1997, Horton worked as an environmental engineer on a variety of emerging environmental issues in the Orlando area.

“Robert Horton is a very complete systems thinker, who thrived on the challenges he faced as a student, and has parlayed his skills into making significant contributions nationally,” said Horton’s former professor Pierce Jones, director of the UF/IFAS Program for Resource Efficient Communities.

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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. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution. Visit the CALS website at cals.ufl.edu, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.

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